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Charlie Daniels Entertains the Troops

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 20, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Country music legend Charlie Daniels (search) has been touring for more than three decades. But he may have played his biggest gig just a few weeks ago. The Charlie Daniels Band (search) logged 16,000 miles performing three times a day for American troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Germany.

And joining us now from Nashville, the legendary Charlie Daniels. Look at that the outfit. Love it.

Those are some great gigs. I mean, I'm sure the appreciation must have been enormous, Charlie.

CHARLIE DANIELS, COUNTRY MUSIC ARTIST: It was incredible, Alan. It was a great thing to experience. And we got some fine, fine troops over there. And I made a promise when I left that I was going to come back and tell their story.

And they're a little confused as to why all the bad things get reported and not the good things. And a lot of good things really are going on over there. There is headway being made in this war. And I sure want to see us give the guys and gals some credit for it.

COLMES: You had some wonderful crowds. And I understand that at one point, instead of the "Devil Went Down to Georgia," the lyrics got changed a little bit in that song, is that right?

DANIELS: The devil went down to Iraq, yes. And I think he probably did, too, more than likely.

COLMES: Was that your change that you made when you did that song?

DANIELS: Yes, that was my change. I do that once in a while. When I was down at Gitmo (search), down there at Guantanamo Bay (search), I did the "Devil Went Down to Gitmo," you know. So when you are in certain places, you change the lyrics a little bit to suit the situation.

COLMES: How was the morale? I know I spent a lot of time not only performing for the troops, but talking to them, spending time with them, as we're seeing here in some of these pictures. Tell us about how they're doing, how they're feeling.

DANIELS: Alan, the morale was great. We visited five countries. We hit a lot of bases. And I found the morale to be good in every place we went to. And a lot of the bases are very, very isolated. You can't go off the base. They are isolated on the base. There's no town to go to. There's nothing except — they watch you guys over there, by the way.

And they have, of course, they have, I guess, the movies and the different things. But the only entertainment you get is when somebody actually flies in there and does it. And they're such a grateful crowd.

And we are deeply honored. They kept coming up, thanking us for coming over there. And I just want to say, you know, we don't deserve the thanks. You guys deserve the thanks for being here. What a great bunch.

COLMES: How secure were you? And what kind of — I would guess lots of safety measures are taken. Did you ever feel any threats to your well- being while you were traveling and performing?

DANIELS: Well, yes. We were coming back into Baghdad one night, and they shot at our helicopter. We had some searchlights, some little searchlights come on, and pointed up in the air. And we were flying in a helicopter, and our pilot just jinked the helicopter off to the left.

And what they do, they shoot at you in such a populated part of the city that you can't shoot back. We had three gunners on the helicopter. One here, one here, and one in the tail. But they couldn't shoot back. So they just avoided the attack and shot off some flares, and we just kept on going.

And the good Lord was looking out for us, so we're here to tell the story.

HANNITY: Well, Charlie, we're glad you're back. As always, you are a great American, buddy.

And look, you've got to admit, though, "The Devil Went Down to Iraq" is certainly a lot better than the version of the "Devil Went Down to Georgia" that I helped sing with you that one day, which was the worst version in the history of your career.

DANIELS: I don't know about that. Now, Sean, we might do that again one of these days, you know?

HANNITY: Well, I'm looking forward to it actually.

Now, you were telling me a story that one of — your drummer, they couldn't get all the equipment at some of the events, because you were doing so many in the day that he actually was playing drums on garbage cans?

DANIELS: Oh, he played on everything. The thing about it — one night, we set up — we had all our instruments except the drums. They didn't make it. And Pat was sitting back there, beating on mike stands. And I don't know what all. And I heard a sudden change, and turned around and looked. He has got a garbage can back there with a base peddle hooked up to it.

HANNITY: That's how I play drums, Charlie.

DANIELS: I thought it was kind of apropos, you know, for him to be doing it on a garbage can. But it was a great, great trip. It was like nothing that you could ever imagine.

And I'll tell you, it's a life-changing thing. I wish everybody could go over. I wish that the people who wonder about the war could go over and see what's happened and see what's going on.

The guys tell me — these are the guys that fight the war — that the people of Iraq are glad that we're there. When you fly over in a helicopter, they wave at the helicopters. There's all kinds of good signs.

There's a lot of — I'm not trying to paint a picture of a bed of roses by any means, because it's still bad, but we are making headway. The election has taken place, and — yes?

HANNITY: Yes, but you mentioned that the guys feel that the real story is not being told by the mainstream media. And that is key.

DANIELS: Well, it's not been. Yes. It's not being told.

I mean, all the bad things are reported, but the good things are not reported. I mean, it's — the things have calmed way down. And you know the thing that gets me — we were up in edge of Kurd country the other day in one of the bases. Anybody who says that Saddam didn't have weapons of mass destruction should go ask the Kurds, because they — I mean, they experienced it.

And we know that they were there. And I believe they're either still there or buried in the Syrian Desert or somewhere.

The thing about it was is this guy was a terrible, terrible person. And the world is much better off with him in captivity and his two sons dead. And we have accomplished that. And I have never been more convinced in my life that's what's going on in Afghanistan and what's going on in Iraq are one in the same thing. I honestly believe that.

HANNITY: No, I believe that, too, Charlie, and I wish — I hate the fact that we have had a president who basically have had every step of war he was undermined by a political party. And how do they respond to that?

DANIELS: You have to say that again. You went off your...

HANNITY: How do they respond to all the attacks against their commander-in-chief by the left?

DANIELS: Oh, they're not happy with Ted Kennedy (search) at all, if that's what you are asking.

HANNITY: That's what I'm asking.

DANIELS: They keep up with what's going — they watch you guys over there. They get the same thing that we do in the states on a limited basis. They don't get all the channels. But they are able to keep up with what's going on.

COLMES: Hey, Charlie, thanks for being with us. Thank you very much.

HANNITY: Thanks, Charlie. Good to see you.

DANIELS: My pleasure, guys. Thank you.

COLMES: Good to see you.

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