Robert Duvall's movie The Apostle twice features one of the compositions of Nashville songwriter Terry Smith. The song, "Far-Side Banks of Jordan," is sung early in the movie by June Carter Cash, who plays the mother of main character Euliss "Sonny" Dewey, a flawed evangelical preacher who is able to reclaim himself because he maintains his religious faith. Later in the production an instrumental version of the song is used as background music. In the movie Dewey hails from Ft. Worth, Texas (about forty miles from Smith's hometown of Denton), and is portrayed by Duvall, who also wrote and directed the film. Besides Duvall and June Carter Cash, The Apostle stars Farrah Fawcett, Billy Bob Thornton, and Miranda Richardson.
In addition to its appearing in the movie, "Far-Side Banks of Jordan" is included on The Apostle's soundtrack, which also features songs by a variety of artists, among them Patty Loveless, Steven Curtis Chapman, Lyle Lovett, Johnny Cash, Wynonna, the Gaither Vocal Band, Galy Chapman, and Emmylou Harris (in a duet with Duvall). For the soundtrack, the Smith composition is performed by the Carter Family.
Terry Smith wrote one of Roy Acuff's last singles, "I Can't Find a Train." The Oak Ridge Boys recorded his rousing gospel number, "Lord, I've Been Ready For Years." And Johnny and June Cash cut Terry's "Far-Side Banks of Jordan," a song you may have heard them do on television (June recorded it also with Mother Maybelle and the Carters). Anyone who intends to keep loving someone beyond this mortal life can relate to that song.
Kitty Wells recorded "It Doesn't Say" of Terry's, a song whose lyric narrates all that cannot be fitted into a tombstone's inscription. (It was inspired by a marble monument works on the left-hand side of Gallatin Road north of Nashville, right before the Opryland turnoff.) There's a man's version of the song, just crying to be recorded and to become a hit.
There have been dozens of Terry Smith songs recorded. They turned up on records by acts as diverse as Lonnie Lynne LaCour -- The Lewis Family -- or Smoky Dawson, an RCA artist from Australia.
Terry's "Ten Seconds in the Saddle" is in the Billboard chart book; recorded by rodeo champ Chris LeDoux, it received air play in such markets as Wyoming and Germany. Sometimes overseas seems closer than Music Row, just four miles away.
Terry has been on Ralph Emery's TV show from Nashville - and at Lonzo & Oscar's Singing Hills Park in Cave City, Kentucky. But like the character in the Statler Brother's classic "Class of '57," Terry Smith teaches school "and probably always will." The classrooms gain, however, is not Country music's loss. All those blackboards perhaps impose Terry a precision and care with words that make up for all those hours grading papers.
Many a "full-time" songwriter has a smaller catalogue than Terry Smith, whose file cabinet holds probably a thousand songs, "the good, the bad, and the ugly" as Terry sums them all up. His songwriting method assures there will be all three kinds written - and his formula might give pause to those would be bards waiting for "inspiration" to strike, while they order another beer and try to think of words to write on the paper napkin. Terry writes one song each Saturday morning. Over the years his subconscious has obediently trained itself to hold back, if possible, during the week, then break out on Saturday. Some of Terry's songs are written for nobody but Terry. As he says without exaggeration, "I've pitched songs to the Texas Rangers and to Captain Kangaroo." Terry has been around for a while, and will be for a long time to come. Terry Smith will definitely give you a "double dose of Country" anytime you let him!