In 1965, when Don Gibson was on Knoxville’s WNOX Tennessee Barn Dance, the venerable announcer and emcee Lowell Blanchard used to introduce him by saying, “Here’s the young man with the fine voice and fantastic phrasing. He came to the Barn Dance four years ago to see if he could find his niche in life. He’s still looking—and still singing. He adds the modern touch to our music here.”
Surrounding Gibson on the show were fiddlers, bluegrass banjo pickers, old-time duet singers, and mandolin pickers, and though it was the age of Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold, Gibson was beginning to feel out of place with his smooth singing and sophisticated guitar playing.
“I was amazed that they even hired me,” Gibson recalls. “When I went in there, singing like I sing, smooth sound and everything, I thought, ‘I’ll never go over in there.’ And sure enough, when we tried playing out—playing schoolhouses and auditoriums and such, like the old-time and bluegrass groups did—nobody would ever show up.”
Don Gibson was twenty-three years old in 1955, and he had been in the music business for six years. During that time, he had always assumed that if he was going to make it, he would do it as a singer or, at worst, a rhythm guitar player.
“A lot of people at WNOX remembered Don best for his unusual rhythm guitar work,” recalls Archie Campbell. But in the summer of 1965 neither talent seemed to be doing much for the man. That was the summer that WNOX radio moved from its longtime location on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville out to the new digs at Willow Springs. The new place had a big empty basement with interesting acoustics.
“One day I had to do the noonday show, and after it was over I started walking down the steps and found myself humming a tune,” Gibson recalled. “About a year before I had written, sort of by accident, a song called ‘I’m Glad I Got to See You Again,’ and Hank Snow had picked it