- Have you ever thought of recording with Gene Watson or doing some sort of collaboration? You two are two of the greats!
Thank you. I think every singer in the world would like to team up with Gene and why not? His is one of the best voices ever. I’ve never spoken with him about it, but if the right song were to come along at the right time, I’d bring it up. I’ll bet, though, that he’d much rather look across the microphone and see Rhonda Vincent!
- Who decides who is going to join the Grand Ole Opry? I would love to see Elizabeth Cook become a member.
Nobody knows 100% for sure who makes those decisions, but I suspect it’s a combination of people within the Opry hierarchy that would include Pete Fisher, Steve Buchanan, and Colin Reed. Maybe others are involved. I honestly don’t know. Elizabeth is a great country singer as well as being a lovely and talented lady. She makes guest appearances on the Opry quite frequently, so the folks in charge are obviously aware of her talents.
- It’s easy to see in the Country’s Family Reunion shows that country performers are a close group of people. Does sharing the stage and being friends with all the big stars over the years take away some of the celebrity magic among you that the rest of us get to feel? I assume you don’t ask one another for autographs or faint in each other’s presence.
If we fainted in each other’s presence, then who would do the shows? We’d all be laying out on the floor! Seriously, we are a close group, and we each admire and respect the others’ talent, but we can’t afford to become star-struck. I do know some artists who collect autographs and keep photo scrapbooks to remind them of the good friends and good days in this business. Sometimes I wish I had done that over the years. Can you imagine what a collection I would now have? I’ll have to remember to do that in my next life!
1) One of my all-time favorite albums is your duet album with Jan Howard called “Bill And Jan Or Jan And Bill.” The album is filled with such a terrific mix of country songs. Do you have any special memories of recording this particular album?
Oh boy, I sure do! Jan and I had done so many serious songs on our first two records together, that we decided from the get-go that this record was going to be FUN. It started with the title. I wanted to call it “Bill & Jan,” naturally, and she wanted to call it “Jan & Bill.” So we settled on using both names, and the liner notes were a series of letters we wrote to one another about the concept. We laughed our heads off coming up with those. Then so many of the songs were light-hearted and fun….including “Dis-Satisfied,” “Beautiful People,” “We,” and “Someday We’ll Be Together.” We cut the original version of “Satin Sheets” here, too, before Jeanne Pruitt had her big hit with it. Jan and I took our music seriously, but we didn’t take ourselves seriously, and this album was certainly proof of that. I’m glad you like it. We both liked it too.
2) A little while back my brother heard you sing a song, “Someday It Will All Make Sense.” Did you write this song and record it? He loved it and wanted to know if it was available.
I co-wrote that song with Bobby Tomberlin and Ryan Larkins, and I’ve sung it a couple of times on the Grand Ole Opry. I have not recorded it yet, but I hope to and plan to as soon as I can get back into the recording studio. I would like very much for it to be part of my next album. Tell your brother I’m glad he likes it.
3) I have a question for you. You have done so much – written and sung thousands of hit songs, acted on a soap opera, appeared many times on TV and, of course, the Grand Ole Opry. You have traveled around the world and much more. Everyone seems to have their own Bucket List. What are a couple of items still on your B.L.??
Professionally, I can’t think of a thing. I have been blessed far beyond my wildest imagination. Personally, at the top of my list is living to see my grandson, Gabe, become cancer-free and able to pursue his life and his dreams. That, along with health and happiness for all my children and grandchildren. My list is actually a pretty short one.
Quickies: Wasn’t there some talk awhile back about Bear Family issuing a boxed set to follow up on “The First Ten Years?” Has there been any movement on that? There was some talk, but it seems to have died out. I don’t think those folks are putting out as much music today as they once were. What is your road schedule for this year? I would love to see you again and hear you sing. You don’t know how much I’d like to be out there pickin’ and singin’ for you, but due to COVID and my current family situation, I am taking the entire year of 2021 off the road. Will I go back on tour in 2022? Stay tuned. When someone does a parody of a song, does the original writer get credit? Is the writer asked if the song can be used? I’m thinking of Sheb Wooley and the parody he did as Ben Colder on “Still.” Yes, the writer gets co-writing credit on the parody. The writer doesn’t have to give permission for the parody to be released, but the publisher, who owns the copyright, has to grant a license. I always took parodies of my songs as great compliments. They meant my original song had been successful enough to warrant someone’s making fun of it. You’ve always had a love for baseball. What is your favorite position? Being left-handed, my options were limited because lefties don’t play second base, shortstop, third base, or catcher. I loved pitching, and then playing first base on the days I wasn’t on the mound. Will there be any more Country’s Family Reunion shows in the near future? This continues to be my most asked question which tells me that many of you really enjoyed those shows. I enjoyed them,too, but the decision as to whether any more shows will be recorded is out of my hands. Larry Black owns the copyright to that name and that series. The decision rests with him and his sons who now run his company.
Thanks as always for your questions. I’ll do it again in June if you’ll send me the material I need. Address your questions to me at AskBill@billanderson.com or at P.O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076. See you back here next month.
span>1) I just came across the song “Double S” on my playlist. What was your inspiration for writing that song?
I was on the bus killing time between a matinee and a nighttime show when the idea struck me. I was making the band laugh by seeing how many words I could come up with that started with the letter “S,” and the more they laughed the crazier I became. Finally, I went to the rear of the bus and began to construct a story out of all these words. I never intended for it to be a song…it was a joke as much as anything else. But when I got back to Nashville and showed what I had written to my producer, Buddy Killen, he began putting a melody behind it and a song was born. It was one of those love/hate records in my career. People either loved it or they hated it. I’ll be nice and not ask which side you fall on!
2) I have seen a lot of your appearances on different game shows. Which was your favorite to be on? And did you pattern your great hosting style on Fandango after any one game show host?
I think I enjoyed being on “Password Plus” more than any other game show, probably because I did better there than on some of the others. I like words and word games, and it was fun to help my contestant partners win lots of money. I have never tried patterning myself…either as a singer or as a game show host…after anyone else. I just tried to be myself and hoped that somebody somewhere liked what I attempted to do.
3) How are you able to perform a song that you have literally sung for decades and still sing it with energy for your audience?
I’m sure different artists handle this in different ways, but to me a song is new every time I sing it. Somebody in that audience may be hearing it for the first time. Somebody else bought a ticket just to hear that song. Either way, it’s up to me to deliver it as best as I can. Before I go onstage every night I tell myself that the show I’m about to do is the most important one I have ever done. I’ve never done a perfect show and I never will, but it won’t be because I didn’t try.
Quickies: Is there any chance the Country’s Family Reunion Road Shows will return to Branson? I never say never, but I doubt we’ll be bringing those back anytime soon. I have looked and looked for the sheet music to “Walk Out Backwards.” Is it available anywhere? That song came out in 1960, and back then they didn’t publish a lot of sheet music for country songs. I can’t find where any was ever printed. Have you ever co-written songs with Skip Ewing and Paul Overstreet? They are among my favorite songwriters. Mine too, and I have written with both of them. Skip and I had a #1 hit (along with Debbie Moore) on Mark Wills’ “Wish You Were Here.” Paul and I haven’t been quite that lucky….yet! One of my favorite female singers was Penny DeHaven. Did you ever do any shows with her? I helped Penny get her first recording contract with Imperial Records, and she recorded several of my songs. I’m sure we must have toured together, but I can’t recall any particular instances. Have you ever thought of doing a duets album? I’ve only done six of them…four with Jan Howard and two with Mary Lou Turner. Plus I’ve recorded duets with Roy Acuff, David Allen Coe, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and others. Where have you been??
Thanks as always for your questions. My mailbox is open 24/7 at email@example.com or in care of P. O. Box 888, Hermitage, TN. 37076 if you’ve got one you’d like to send me. See you back here next time.