LOM's dad loves to tell a story about being at the Petroleum Club in London in 1978 when Darrell McCall's "Lily Dale" came on the sound system. Some wiry little guy stood up on a chair and hollered, "Shut up, you Limey sons of bitches, they're playing the Texas National Anthem." "I thought surely someone is just going to throw him through the window, but nothing happened. And the place got quiet and people listened." Boorish? Sure. A caricature of the overbearing ugly Texan? Obviously. True? In many ways.
McCall came to Nashville with Donny Young before Young began calling himself Johnny Paycheck. McCall and Young had considerable success as a harmony duo on many of the major sessions in Nashville, but McCall finally struck eternal country gold in 1977 with "Lily Dale."
It didn't hurt that the second male voice was Willie Nelson. "Lily Dale" was the first duet Nelson ever sang with a male, and he nailed his part. Willie wasn't yet the icon he became, although his popularity in Texas was already huge. But it was McCall's visibility that blossomed significantly with this Texas dance-hall classic that made it into the Billboard Top 40.
McCall had a large if below-the-radar career, playing bass with Nashville hall-of-famers like Faron Young, Ray Price and Carl Smith. He also worked early on with Hank Jr. and wrote Bocephus's first huge hit, "Eleven Roses."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Today, McCall is living quietly in Brady, where he still makes music with his wife, daughter and son.
Here's some homemade video of McCall at home and onstage from what must be at least 20 years ago. Warning: if you don't like killer hardcore honky tonk, don't click the link.
The first line is Play that song again about the loser." Don't say you weren't warned.