Camden native and professional songwriter/singer Patrick Davis who now lives in Nashville, spoke with staff writer Sammy Fretwell recently about his passion for USC sports and why he writes songs about the Gamecocks exploits. In the interview, Davis mentioned his respect for football coach Steve Spurrier, athletics director Ray Tanner and baseball coach Chad Holbrook. Davis said he’d like to think Carolina can win the national title in football, but it’s too early to talk much about that. Davis said he’s been a Gamecock fan since he can remember.
You’re an accomplished singer in Nashville, so what makes you want to write songs about Carolina sports?
I grew up in South Carolina and graduated from the University of South Carolina. I guess it runs in my blood. I’m a diehard supporter of Gamecock athletics. It has really been kind of a fun experience to take what I do in my professional life and be able to use that to bring some happiness to the Gamecock faithful everywhere.
Being in Nashville, do people understand your passion for Carolina sports? Do they know you are a big fan?
Nashville is one of those towns that is kind of smorgasbord of people from all over the country. We all kind of wear our team affiliations on our sleeve so to speak. It’s kind of a fun thing to do. I have a lot of buddies that are from Georgia, a lot of friends from Tennessee, from Florida. Sports is one of those things that kind of brings people closer together, I think, even though we cheer for different teams. It’s kind of a common bond.
What is your first memory of Gamecock sports and what drew you to Carolina as a fan?
I remember growing up as a kid, as a real young kid, I guess it was 1984, and how the Gamecocks were very highly ranked and had a really wonderful season. The Morrison years I remember those years, as a child, Gamecock football being just a really big deal for the entire state. I guess my first memory I can actually put together with where I was, was when Brad Edwards ran back an interception against Clemson. I want to say it was 1987. I remember that. I was watching at my granddad’s house, sitting on the couch, and just going crazy, a little kid in a Gamecock tee shirt. I was probably 8 or 9 years old. I was a young buck.’
What is your favorite team sport to root for? Baseball or football? Basketball? Which one really gets you revved up?
Most of us, we love the action and the excitement of football. But the past few years with coach Tanner and coach Holbrook and the baseball team really amping it up, I think a lot of Gamecock fans are getting more and more excited for baseball. And with coach Martin coming (to coach basketball), I think it really is just a wonderful time to be a South Carolina fan. Growing up, it wasn’t always that way. Right now, I feel like year-round you can pretty much find a reason to get excited about Gamecock athletics.
Is there a line in one of your songs that best exemplifies your feelings about Gamecock sports?
Basically, the gist of the line says “One day, I will not have to say ‘Wait until Next Year.’” I think that is kind of the way we felt for a long time. But with Spurrier and coach Tanner and coach Holbrook and those guys, we don’t really have to wait until next year. We really are capable of winning a national championship or an SEC championship at any time.
How did the album come about?
I write songs in Nashville for a living for myself and I’ve written songs for numerous country artists. I really did “Big Old Gamecock” as kind of a joke. It was just kind of fun, it was really just fun. It was something I did on my couch one afternoon and kind of got a kick out of it. I played it for my wife, who also is a USC alumnus. And she died laughing and loved it. I played it for a couple of buddies.
Then the next thing I knew, it kind of took on this life of itself when I recorded it. Then I recorded on a flip camera, on my iPhone, a song I wrote during the second national championship for the baseball team. I think I started writing it in the second inning of the game. By the 7th inning, I’d recorded it and put it on YouTube at the end of the game.
The response from that was so great and it was so kind. I guess I knew from that there was a demand for those types of songs.’’
What would you say to people who don’t attend Carolina sporting events? Should they go?
I don’t think there’s anything quite like a Saturday at Williams-Brice or the Ray, the baseball field. It’s one of the top facilities in the nation. I’ve been to a couple of basketball games in the new Colonial Life Arena. I think there is something beautiful and very American about going to a sporting event like that. I would just tell anyone if they can find a way to get there, to go. The thing about South Carolina football is, even if you just hang out in the Farmers Market (parking lot) the whole game, it’s still so exciting. You feel this camaraderie and you feel this excitement and there is a pulse to the atmosphere. It’s something you kind of have to do, at least once or twice.
What is the best thing about a Carolina football game?
The tailgate and all that is wonderful. Seeing all those people that you haven’t seen in forever. But I really believe there is absolutely nothing quite possibly in all of sports that compares to “2001.” That intro. A night game especially. Oh my gosh. It’s this fever pitch. The excitement. You can cut it with a knife. It’s hanging in the air. When you see that smoke and Cocky appears, it really is something special.
Who is your favorite Gamecock athlete and why?
Growing up, I guess there was kind of a long list of guys you wanted to be when you were out on the playground. Sterling Sharpe. Robert Brooks. Brandon Bennett. Harold Green. I think right now, across the country, the amount of respect the University of South Carolina gained from Marcus Lattimore is kind of hard to describe. I have friends from Texas, I have friends from Georgia, I have friends from farther out west. They all respect and were in awe of the talent of Marcus Lattimore. And I think they all were in awe of the fact that he was such a nice humble young man on the field. I see that with Clowney right now, with people so in awe of his talents.
What do you think about coach Steve Spurrier?
Oh, I love Spurrier. He’s got great sound bites. He’s very funny. Holtz was a good starting point for us and I think that Spurrier has taken us closer to the finish line. We ain’t far, that’s how I think all of us feel. I don’t know this, but I bet it was tougher here than he thought it would be. The winning ways Spurrier has helped to bring to the school, a lot of that has to do with the coaches he has brought in.
What college team do you root most heavily against and why?
The game that you want to win for your state pride every year the most is of course Clemson. But I don’t really root against any college teams. I guess it’s because I realize they are kids. There are some coaches out there I don’t like. But it’s hard for me to say. I would prefer for Clemson to be 11-0 when they play South Carolina and are ranked No. 3 and we’re ranked No. 2, and we beat them. That’s better for us. The same thing goes for Alabama, or Florida or Georgia. Well, I really do really do dislike Georgia. I’m not going to lie to you. I think that has a lot to do with how much smack talk happens between me and some of my Georgia friends in Nashville.
If Carolina wins the SEC title, or even wins the national title in football, what is the first thing you are going to do?
I’ll probably cry. Who knows? I think we’ve had so many close calls over the years that, even though we are really close, you don’t really want to think about it too much. You don’t want to set yourself up for anything. It sounds like a stock answer but it’s true. I really do want to go one game at a time and win them all.
But it would be one heck of a party I can promise you that much if we did pull that off. Right now, I’m worried about North Carolina, making sure we come out and do what we’re supposed to do in that game. And the biggest game of the year is that second game (Georgia). So for me, I’m not looking past Sept. 7.