Birch Bay man a Nashville music sensation

Published on Thu, Aug 21, 2008 by Jack Kintner

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Birch Bay man a Nashville music sensation

By Jack Kintner

Rod Stone is intent on being competitive. That’s the only way he’ll get on the radio and charts, he said.

The long-time Birch Bay resident is headed back to Nashville, a place where he spent 20 years toiling in the trenches of country music as a song writer.

That all came to an end the day Lee Greenwood called him and told him that his song “USA Today” was going to be the focal point of Greenwood’s new country album as well as being released on its own as a single.

A musician from a musical family, Stone has made his living and supported his family by doing other things; in his case everything from building houses to diving for Geoducks. “Now I’m trying to switch from seeing myself as a carpenter who likes to write songs to a song-writer. That’s my job now,” he said.

“We’ve come close before to having a major star pick up one of Rod’s songs,” said his wife Carrie, a singer of some regional note in her native Delaware but who also supported herself doing other things such as selling houses.

George Straight twice had Stone’s songs “sitting on the table as one of just a few finalists to choose from,” she said, “but it just never quite happened.” In the competitive world of professional music there are hundreds of also-rans for every one singer or songwriter who gets a break.

Making a breakthrough in having a well-known performer pick your song is not entirely random, however. Stone himself described the process as “It’s not who you know, it’s what you know. That is, until you know it. Then it’s who you know.”

In other words, the product has to meet a certain base level of professional quality, something that is almost hard-wired into Stone’s genes.

His grandfather Howard Dye owned a music store and directed bands at Whitman College and at the Pendleton Round-Up, a major stop on the professional rodeo tour.

Dye and his wife Ruth made it possible for Stone’s parents to move to Orcas Island after his father Willard, a xylophone player, retired from work with the Methodist Church. Stone’s mother Barbara, a concert violinist of some note, worked at Rosario. Stone, 52, graduated from Orcas Island high school in 1974, where his senior project was based on a body of songs he’d already been working on for some years.
Stone said that his inspiration comes as much from folk and classical music as from country. “Don McLean, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell’s ability to write lyrics, Leo Kottke’s instrumental abilities, plus I’ve played a fair amount of classical guitar,” he said.

Greenwood was already well known in 2001, having been picked as the country music male vocalist of the year in 1983, when his “God Bless the USA” articulated this country’s unity and resolve right after the 911 attacks.

Greenwood’s website says that he’s working on a new country album that’s seen as a key to his late career. “This is more than a come back album,” he said, “this will be an album for all generations.

“I’m hoping to discover a new legion of fans that buy the music that Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Brooks & Dunn and Martina McBride are recording. I intend on being competitive. That’s the only way you’ll get on radio and the charts.”

Four weeks ago after his song was shown to Greenwood, his manager Jerry Bentley e-mailed Stone back almost immediately. “The words ‘loved it’ were in capital letters,” Stone said. Not long after that Greenwood called to add his comments and thanks.

Stone said that the whole family, including son Newell, 8, and daughter Olivia, 5, will miss Birch Bay and plans to come back often, “especially in the summer,” he added.

Greenwood will perform Stone’s song this Saturday, August 23, at the Grand Ol’ Opry, which will be telecast at 6 p.m. on the Nashville-based Great American Country television network, available as a premium on Comcast channel 484. The song can also be heard at

USA Today
The bad news is inflation’s on the rise
Cost of gas has hit an all-time high
The Dow-Jones is falling again
Seems like the bad news never ends
But Then again
Good news is a soldier’s coming home
And the heart that cries for freedom is still beating strong
Someone voted for president, a child just learned how to pray
And that’s good news in the US Today

When I read about the war across the sea
And the people who died to live like me
I thank the lord for the good things we have
Maybe the bad news ain’t so bad

And we should be glad
The good news is a soldier’s coming home
And the heart that cries for freedom is still beating strong
Someone voted for president, a child just learned how to pray
And that’s good news in the US Today