Bankrate: How was your quality of life?
Braddock: I rented two or three places, but by the time I signed with Tree, with some help from my folks, my bride and I bought a pretty nice little house. In fact, when "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" came along about two years after that, I went totally hillbilly and built my own swimming pool.
Bankrate: How did you come to write that Tammy Wynette classic?
Braddock: I had written a song called "I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U, Do I Have to Spell It Out for You?" That spawned "D-I-V-O-R-C-E." I went in to do a demo of it with a band to pitch it to the artists and record labels, and nobody would cut the song. I asked Curly Putman why nobody would cut it and he said, "In just certain spots, the melody is too happy for such a sad song." I said, what would you do? He picked up a guitar and he changed basically around the title line, it wasn't that much but it just made all the difference in the world. And I said well, you need to take half the song, and he said no, so we compromised and he took a fourth of it. He played it for Billy Sherrill and in just a week or two he cut it with Tammy. That was it. Looking back on it, it was a pretty corny song, but they cut a great record on it.
Bankrate: Did your life change after having a No. 1 hit?
Yeah, it did. If I was earning $10,000 a year,
we would live on $15,000. If I was earning $20,000
a year, we were living on $30,000 to 35,000 a
year. Over the years, I just got deeply, deeply,
deeply in debt. It was just awful. I can't blame
it on my wife because I let it happen. It was
the classic mismatch marriage of all time, with
one exception: We got a wonderful daughter out
of it. I wouldn't change a thing.
Bankrate: Were you just not tracking on your bills?
Braddock: Yeah. She had come from not much money and she was just spending through the roof and I let her do it. Fortunately, I had a successful songwriting career and when it came time to sign a contract, instead of trying to get part of the publishing for my songs, I was so needy that when it came re-sign time, I always wanted money up front and I just continued to get much, much deeper in debt.
Bankrate: What did you think would happen?
I hoped it would go away, having an economics
IQ of about 50 [laughs]. After that marriage,
I remarried, and I had learned a lot of lessons
and I was just trying to climb out. My second
wife was fine; she wasn't spending all the money.
I eventually just got very deeply in debt and
ended up owing the IRS a lot of money. I actually
never got out of debt until the late 1990s. I'm
in decent shape now, and have been investing my
money. I'm doing OK. I'm doing now like I should
have been doing when I was 30 or 35.