• lead vocal and piano: Doug Koempel
  • acoustic guitar: Steve Logan
  • electric guitar: Jimmy Bryant
  • steel guitar: Buddy Emmons
  • bass: Bud Logan (Jim Reeve's original bass player and John Conlee's producer)
  • drums: D.J. Fontana (Elvis's original drummer)
  • strings: The Wire Choir (arranged by Kris Wilkinson)
  • background vocals: Sound Seventy Singers (including Janie Fricke)
  • recorded at: Music City Recorders / Nashville, TN
  • engineered by: Jack Logan

Doug's notes:

"Grant Me The Serenity" is a song written by John "Big Jack" Rodamaker based on the familiar Serenity Prayer written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:

        God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
        Courage to change the things I can,
        And wisdom to know the difference.

In the early '70s, Mr. Rodamaker contacted me regarding recording a demo of this song - at the time titled "Poor Man's Prayer." He had the lyrics pretty much composed, but the melody and arrangement were not fixed at that time. So I decided to do an Everly Brothers' treatment for the demo, and I recruited Larry Crandall and Kevin Conner to help me with the recording.

The session was held at Johnny Durham's Cherrywood Studios in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Doing our best Everly Brothers' impersonation, Larry and I sang close harmony with Kevin laying down a guitar track. Studio owner Johnny thought that we could use a little bass on the track, so he contacted Dave Christopherson to add some bottom end to the recording. (Little did I know that both Kevin and Dave would many years later become official Memory Brothers - Kevin in 1977 and Dave in 1998.)

Several years passed, and by 1977 "Big Jack" was the owner of Chart Records out of Nashville. (Click here for a brief history of Chart Records.) He recruited me as one of the new artists for the label, and one of our first recordings was a revamped version of "Poor Man's Prayer" which was now entitled "Grant Me The Serenity."

My version of the song could be best described as a medium-tempo, two step - kind of a country shuffle - quite different from the original, slow ballad version that Larry and I had demoed. Another Chart Records' artist, Steve Bledsoe, also released this song around 1977. Steve did a completely different take on this song - doing a slow waltz.

I recently came across the original, "Poor Man's Prayer" demo that Larry and I had done. In those days reference demos were put on "acetates." An acetate disc was like a phonograph record but not nearly as durable and was very susceptible to scratches. Nevertheless using some studio tools, I cleaned the recording up as much as possible so you can hear that original recording. To listen to the original demo of "Poor Man's Prayer" and the two, subsequent record releases of "Grant Me The Serenity," click on the players at the top of this page.

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Doug Koempel © 2016
SONG #58

(writer: John "Big Jack" Rodamaker)
artist: Doug Koempel
album title: SAYIN' GOOD-BYE (1980)
label: JAROCO Records
publishing: Jaroco Music, BMI / Blue Baker Music BMI
play "Grant Me The Serenity"
Steve Bledsoe release
play "Poor Man's Prayer" demo
Doug & Larry
play "Grant Me The Serenity"
Doug Koempel release