He Stopped Loving Her Today, D-I-V-O-R-C-E, Golden Ring and People Are Crazy all sat at the top of country music hit lists, and all were written by Braddock. Although Braddock, a graduate of Auburndale High School, "still has a lot of Florida inside,'' he has lived for the last five decades in Tennessee, where he has been immersed in the music industry. Along with his storied songwriting career, Braddock, 75, is an author. His new book, Bobby Braddock: A Life on Nashville's Music Row, is "a historical journey, a history of both modern America and Southern culture,'' he said. "The characters included are both infamous ones and the unknown.''
What's on your nightstand?
I have an insatiable appetite to read. I'm embarrassed to say that I do have my new book. I also have David McCullough's The Wright Brothers. I loved it because there's so much I did not know about them. The whole miraculous thing of basing a vehicle of travel on fundamentally what a bird does is amazing. I also have a political biography, Being Nixon: A Man Divided by Evan Thomas. I'm sort of a political junkie.
Did anything surprise you about Nixon?
There was a human side of Nixon, a strong affection. Of course you'd think that of any father and husband, but that's not a side of Nixon that we read a lot about. I think it was a balanced book, which means you are going to read some very bad things, but he was obviously a very bright man. I also have one from the University Press of Mississippi, Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement by Devery Anderson. He spent years and years researching Till, who was murdered for saying something flirtatious to a woman. His mama was from the Delta, but he was raised in Chicago, and he did not understand etiquette in 1955 in the Deep South and how he violated a code. It's not just about crime. It's a pretty amazing historical document. I also have another big favorite: Rick Bragg. All Over But the Shoutin' was one of the most amazing things I've ever read.
Is the reason you've stayed in Nashville the same reason you first moved there?
Music brought me here, and I do still feel so much at home here. It's a very different city, though. It's got a crazy growth, in a good way and in a not so good way. With big condos, it's losing a lot of its character, like Polk County.
Is it still Southern minded?
It's still Southern but not as Southern.
How old were you when you wrote your first song?
I'd say 4 years old. When I was small, I had a knack for taking songs on the radio and writing my own words to the tune. I thought it was a normal thing to do.
And how old were you when you wrote your last song?
75. My last number one was 2009, People Are Crazy. I am still very active in writing songs, although this book has diverted me a little bit. It was an innate thing for me to write songs, but I've had to learn how to write the books. John Egerton, a writer and editor, was a mentor who taught me how to write. I asked him for help. He loved my character dialogue but he felt my transitions were jerky, so he taught me about that. He lived a few years in Tampa.
What do you miss most about Florida?
I love Florida and I love Polk County and I miss the way it used to be, although I'm glad there are some things that are gone, like the blatant prejudice. I do miss driving through Polk County. I miss the orange trees and the palm trees.
Contact Piper Castillo at email@example.com. Follow @Florida_PBJC.