The words in one of Don Williams’ most well-known songs perhaps ring truer today than when they were first written back in 1980.
“I don’t believe . . . that gasoline’s in short supply, the rising cost of getting by . . . But I believe in love. I believe in old folks. I believe in children. I believe in you.”
Williams also believes in love, music, and magic and the crowd at Medina still believes in Don Williams.
The almost-sold-out show Nov. 4 was Williams’ first at the Medina Entertainment Center in more than four years.
Country music’s “Gentle Giant” retired back in 2006, and it was announced earlier this fall that the Medina would be a stop on a limited tour that has coincided with his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year.
Though his website calls it “the best chance ever to see Don in concert one more time,” Williams, 71, told the crowd at the Medina he hopes to “come back and see you again.”
His tour began at the end of September, with Williams performing in Oklahoma City to a sellout crowd.
“He was in great voice. No one would have guessed he had been off the road for four years,” according to his website.
Fighting off a chest cold that forced the cancellation of several shows a week before his Medina appearance, Williams still showed some physical symptoms of the cold as he sat on stage on his elevated stool, but his voice certainly did not.
Williams is known for simply sitting on that famous stool, picking his guitar, and gently coasting through hit after hit.
Country star Keith Urban recently admitted hopping onto that stool at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville the day after Williams had performed and strumming a few of Williams’ songs to himself.
“I just grabbed my guitar and jumped up on that stool and no one was around. [Don] had [left] the set list from the night before, and I just got my guitar and, to myself, picked just a little of every song on the set list like a total geeky fan,” Urban told Country Weekly.
Despite the stark contrast in their live performances Urban uses giant screens behind him, is all over the stage, in the audience, and full of energy, while a Williams show finds little audience interaction or chatter in between songs, and certainly no frills or jumps into the audience Urban cites Williams as a major influence on his music.
A request to speak with Williams about his influence on younger artists like Urban was politely declined by Williams’ management, noting, “Mr. Williams does not do interviews.”
During a moment between songs at the Medina, a fan shouted out “Congrats on the Country Music Hall of Fame it’s long overdue.”
Williams simply said “thank you” and moved into the next song.
During another brief break, another fan shouted the name of one of Williams’ more obscure songs from his almost-40-year solo career, and Williams quipped back “I ain’t singin’ that” with a quick chuckle and a quick move into the next tune on the set list.
With the exception of a brief break to introduce his band, Williams did his two biggest hits back-to-back, enticing his fans with “I Believe In You” and “Tulsa Time.”
After enthusiastic clapping and cheering, Williams simply gave his traditional response of “mercy” and moved onward.
Another highlight included Williams’ original version of “It Must Be Love,” a song Alan Jackson re-recorded in 2000. The song made it to the number-one spot on the charts for both artists.
Another jewel was the simplistic “Stay Young,” which is a good reminder of something all of us should try to do.
The few who left the Medina before Williams left the stage missed another gem when Williams and his five-piece band did a laid-back, but very country version of “Louisiana Saturday Night” for the finale.
He then hopped off his stool, walked off the stage, put on his coat, and headed out the door.
From the 1983 number-one hit “Stay Young”
“Stay young keep your wheels in motion
“You’ve got everything that you need
“Stay young with your rock-n-rollin’
“All the best things in life are free”
“Good Ole Boys Like Me”
“Heartbeat in the Darkness”
“Some Broken Hearts Never Mend”
“Back in My Younger Days”
“In the Family”
“She Never Knew Me”
“If Hollywood Don’t Need You (Honey, I Still Do)”
“Rake and Ramblin’ Man”
“Til The River’s All Run Dry”
“It Must Be Love”
“I Believe In You”
“You’re My Best Friend”
“Lord, I Hope This Day is Good”
“Louisiana Saturday Night”
• In 1978, Don Williams was the Country Music Association’s male vocalist of the year, and his “Tulsa Time” was named single of the year.
• Williams is a native of Floydada, TX.
• Williams began his solo career in 1971, and earned 17 number-one hits over the years. Only four of his 46 singles didn’t make it to the top ten.