Sunday, 18 March 2012

Bob DiPiero and Bill Anderson CMR Nashville Interviews

Bob DiPiero and Bill Anderson CMR Nashville Interviews

Lee Williams from CMR Nashville was in London recently for the CMA Songwriters Series in partnership with BMI and Gibson Guitar.

He took the opportunity to speak to Country Music Hall of Fame Member Bill Anderson and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Member Bob DiPiero before their show at the newly renovated Islington Assembly Hall on Wednesday February 22nd.

Bob DiPiero Interview

Bob Dipiero-Clint Black-Bill Anderson
Gibson Bus-Feb 2012 Tour


Lee Williams –  Well I’m on this wonderful bus The Gibson Bus here in London, it’s the evening of the CMA Songwriters show,  “3 in a round” , and one of the  songwriters is Bob DiPiero

Bob DiPiero – Lee Thank you for having me come speak to your audience.

Lee Williams – Bob, just give some of those songs you’ve written

Bob DiPiero – Well for the country music listeners out there, golly, ‘Blue Clear Sky’ for George Strait, ‘Take Me As I Am’ for Faith Hill, Tim McGraw ‘Southern Voice’, ‘American Made’ The Oak Ridge Boys’, ‘Gone’ Montgomery Gentry, Scotty McCreery sang ‘Gone’ the list goes on and on

Lee Williams – So how long have you been having these hits?

Bob DiPiero – Well you know the first song I ever had recorded was in 1982 , I was 4 at the time (not really) but my first song , my #1 song was The Oak Ridge Boys in 1983. Its an ongoing thing, I just found out yesterday I’ve got Darius Rucker recording a song that he and I wrote together. It appears to be continuing ha ha

Lee Williams – I know you’re here doing the songwriter thing in the UK but do you sing a lot and do lots of gigs yourself?

Bob DiPiero – You know it seems like I’m doing more as time is going on. I’m on the board of the CMA and when we were bringing the CMA show to New York City to Madison Square Garden we wanted to make sure the songwriters were represented. So we put on one of these songwriters in the round shows in a great little club called Joe’s Pub (YouTube) who have hosted everyone from Dolly Parton to U2. We did a show that week, it was a wonderful place they invited us to come back again and how we’re in our eighth year of doing these songwriter shows. That happens about 5 or 6 times a year and I’m doing a lot of shows (laughs)   

Lee Williams – You do The Bluebird and all the other song writing venues in Nashville  

Bob DiPiero – I do, I came from a background of playing in bands. My background was not country it was rock ‘n’ roll. I come from the Midwest, Youngstown Ohio, the steel belt. As they call it now the rust belt and I grew up listening to rock ’n’ roll, saw The Beatles on TV and I wanted to be John Lennon. So John Lennon wrote songs, so I was going to write songs just because it looks like what you do. That’s where I’m coming from. If I brought anything to Nashville it would be a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll   

Bill Anderson (left) - Bob DiPiero (right)
   

Lee Williams – So did the song writing come easy to you? Some people have got it and some people haven’t. When you talk to songwriters who’ve had the hits like you’ve had, it seems like, it’s there.  

Bob DiPiero – Well I wish it was there all the time. If it was I’d only work 2 days a week but I think that I’ve been blessed with a gift and I’ve really tried to respect that gift and work as hard and give it as much respect as the gift that’s been given to me. So yes, there’s something there that’s very natural to me to do and I love to do it and I get inspired to do it every time I write something so I continue to do it. It’s just what I’m here to be doing I’m firmly convinced.

Lee Williams – Are the songs make believe or real currencies or friends happenings?

Bob DiPiero – I think its all the above. Of course there are songs that are real. Vince Gill and I wrote ‘Worlds Apart’ and it was a #1 record in the US. At the time Vince and I were going through painful break-ups and we friends and just talking through it and the song Worlds Apart just kind of appeared. So that was a real piece of life, a snapshot, as there could be. Some things are made up and some things are stories of friends. Some are bits of conversation that grew into a song. Some things like ‘Blue Clear Sky’ come from the movie Forrest Gump and the movie it talks about his girlfriend Jenny [played by Robin Wright] and out of the clear blue sky Jenny came back. Well everywhere in the world I believe its clear blue sky (laughs) but I thought it was interesting, out of blue, out of nowhere you never think your going to fall in love again and BANG and you are and that’s what the song is about  

Lee Williams – Have you had to write to order?

Bob DiPiero – Write to order, to me is more like writing with the artist or write to order you know what. I would guess the song I wrote ‘Coming Home’ [from “Country Strong” soundtrack, music & lyrics by Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey and Troy Verges] which was nominated for an Oscar for best Song of the Year last year and a Tony Award. My co-writer Tom Douglas and myself were approached to write for the movie Coming Home and we were allowed to see the script and we choose the spot in the movie and we wrote that song. Two other writers were brought in and that song went through many life’s but that was written because of somebody said - We need this song. There are 10,000 song writers in Nashville and writing that song for that movie it’s not like it was a lock.   

Lee Williams – Who had a hit with that one?

Bob DiPiero – Believe it or not Gwyneth Paltrow. It was very exciting to see her sing that on the Oscars

Lee Williams – Have you ever done any theme tunes for movies, TV series that type of thing because they must be good earners?

Bob DiPiero – I would love to

Lee Williams –  A friend of mine Jace Everett wrote ‘Bad Things’ for The True Blood series and he loves it.

Bob DiPiero – I bet he loves that to pieces! I have not, I’ve had my share of songs in movies but I’ve never had
The theme. That’s something I haven’t done and I want to do

Lee Williams – So how many times have you been to the UK? Is this your first time over?

Bob DiPiero – No, every time I’ve come, I’ve come because of music. The first time I came there was an artist called Mark Germino, he was a Nashville writer who was really more like a Dylan-esque kind of singer songwriter. He was recording an album here and he invited me to come over and sing on his album. I got to come over it was a lovely studio south of London in the country and we had a great time. Paul Samwell-Smith was producing it, that was my first trip to the UK. After that I was invited to do a songwriters retreat with writers and artists from the US, UK and Europe and once again it was in the country and it was very nice. 

Lee Williams – Have you recorded your own stuff? Have you got CD’s out of your own material that you’ve done?  As it should be sung

Bob DiPiero – As it should be sung, absolutely! I have 3 CD’s and your listeners can go to my Facebook page or my webpage and you can buy them there and I’ve brought some with me. So sure I’ve done that but mostly for me, it’s a labour of love. I love to do anything that has to do with music. I’m a guitar player I love to work with great musicians and anybody whose is as serious about the craft as I am. Getting to do a CD for me is pure pleasure. We did our first show last night here in London for the BBC TV taping and the audience were just FANTASTIC.  They were appreciative; the applause after each song, the length of the applause really just knocked me back. It was very wonderful, it made all three of us very relaxed and at home and these beautiful halls that were playing in is the perfect venue for it. An acoustic show just 3 guitars, 3 voices and that’s music. It’s country music and if it’s stripped down far enough its just good music.        

Lee Williams – Have you a favourite song that you’ve written or 2 or 3, it must be very difficult?

Bob DiPiero – That’s the most difficult question to ask. The honest answer is the song I’m going to write tomorrow, that’s my favourite song. As a commercial songwriter you do not exist on what has happened you exist on what is about to happen or what is going to happen or what you are going to make happen but with a new song, a new idea. But my first #1 was American Made by the Oakridge Boys so I’ve got a soft spot for that!
‘World’s Apart’ was a favourite of mine because it was so real to me and to Vince. That’s what I personally feel, that real, that’s a real piece of story telling and music.
I’ve written one recently in the US, you know I’m sure it’s the same in the UK but there is a big difference between the north and the south and it’s still there you know. I moved to the south and fell in love with the south. My co-writer Tom Douglas and I were writing and we wrote a song called ‘Southern Voice’ and in it we just did shout outs to all the great voices all the great people that had come from the south who had put their imprint on the world. Chuck Berry, Hank Williams, Tom Petty, Martin Luther King, Billy Graham we all these shot outs to the greats, like a love letter to the south. Those are some of my favourites how that you’re asking me. Tomorrow could be different!  

Bill Anderson Interview       
Bill Anderson stood by the Gibson Tour Bus -Feb 2012

Lee Williams – Another legend in country music not just as a singer but as a songwriter is Bill Anderson

Bill Anderson – Lee, how are you?

Lee Williams – I’m great and your looking exceeding well

Bill Anderson – Well, you probably need to get your glasses cleaned off but thank you

Lee Williams – Ever since I’ve been in country music there is always Bill Anderson, my goodness you look really well and your sounding like you just started up there. 

Bill Anderson – Thank you, this is a lot of fun. I’ve kind of reached the point in my career where if it’s not fun I don’t want to be involved with it. I like to do things that I enjoy being with Bob Dipiero and Clint Black and doing this for the CMA and BMI and coming back to see you guys again. It’s fun.

Lee Williams – It’s been a while because probably the last time you came over was for one of the Wembley Festivals many years ago?

Bill Anderson – Well I was on the first Wembley Festival back in 1969 and I did several of them after that. I asked a fan of mine inside a while ago who has followed my career very closely, I asked when was the last time I was here? He said he thought it was in the early to mid 90’s. So I haven’t been here for almost 20 years. 

Lee Williams – I think that’s it, the last Wembley was 20 years ago. They have just started it again this weekend. What came first the song writing or the singer?

Bill Anderson – Song writing, that’s what got me the recording contract and that’s what opened all the doors. I had no illusions of being a great singer. I knew I had a style that was a little different. I didn’t sound like anybody else. It was the great producer Owen Bradley that gave me the opportunity but he didn’t sign me because he thought I was a great singer but he signed me because he liked the songs I wrote and with his help we could make some good records, and we did.  

Lee Williams – What was the first hit?

Bill Anderson – Well if you go back to the first hit it was ‘City Lights’ [It twice became a No. 1 hit — in 1958 and again in 1975] which Ray Price recorded that I wrote in the late 50’s. The first album I had out that was on a major label which was Ray’s follow-up to that. I had the original of a record called ‘That’s What It’s Like To Be Lonesome’ but it wasn’t until a few years after that that songs like ‘Po Folks’ [1961] and ‘Mamma Sang a Song’ [his first No. 1, from 1962] and ‘Tips Of My Fingers’ and things like that came along and that I began to establish a little bit of an identity an artist as well as a writer.

Bill Anderson
Bear Family Records
Box Set Artwork

Lee Williams – I see that you have your first Box Set out on Bear Family Records [link] from Germany. It’s called the first 10 years, 1956 – 1966 and there is a bunch on there. 

Bill Anderson – Well I listened to that and I have very mixed feelings. I am very honoured that Bear Family wanted to put it out, I hope it does well. I think so far that it’s selling pretty well.
People are enjoying it and I’m glad of that. Sometimes I listen to some of those old records and I think “Oh golly, that’s terrible I wish it wasn’t out there” But that’s really part of the story. Those were the songs that started it all way back there and so if you’re going to tell the story you might as well tell it honestly.   


Lee Williams – That was the style the recording techniques were simple in those days compared to what it is now.

Bill Anderson – Oh yes, its much different, we made records live in the studio with the band, with the background singers. We had an orchestra with strings, it was all done live. These days you sometimes don’t even see the person you’re singing a duet with. It’s all done in a whole different way. It was fun and from that aspect it was fun to go back and listen to them.   

Lee Williams – When did you first go onto The Opry because obviously that’s somewhere that you still perform regularly?

Bill Anderson – 1961, I became a member last year I celebrated my 50th Anniversary there 

Lee Williams – My goodness, that must a really treat and to see how things have changed?

Bill Anderson – Well they have changed and I think I’ve changed along with them. I’m sure I’m not the same person or the same artist that I was in 1961. But I love being a part of The Opry family and I hope I can stay there forever. Photo 

Lee Williams – There was a time that the artists that were members had to appear a certain amount of times each year. It’s not quite so stringent these days?

Bill Anderson – Well there is not as many weeks. We used to be required to be there 26 weeks a year and I think that’s been cut back to about 10. So it’s much easier to do that and keep your career going on all the other levels.

Lee Williams – Now as another thing as a songwriter you had some big hits that happened in the UK.

Bill Anderson – Well I did and a couple of them were very unlikely. Probably my best known song in the UK is a song called ‘Happiness’ that Ken Dodd had out and he kind of uses it as his signature and everything and yet in the United States nobody has even heard that song, nobody ever recorded it but me and it was only an album cut or the “B” side of a single. But it’s done very well over here. They’ve used it in commercials over the years and various things so that’s a fun part of it too seeing something happen in another part of the world that didn’t happen at home. 

Lee Williams – You’ve obviously met Ken?

Bill Anderson – Oh yeah, I met him in Liverpool on one of my tours over here and what a delightful man and I really just enjoyed being around him and the more I’ve learned about him over the years the more I respect him. I read the other day that he’s like 84 years old and he’s still performing and I think that is just incredible.  

Lee Williams – And there still scared when he does a gig because he won’t stop. They have to have a curfew and nearly pull him off with a hook. He won’t stop even at his age.

Bill Anderson – (laughs) well you know that’s because he loves it. You can tell when it’s someone who loves what they are doing and someone when they’re just doing a job and he loves it and that’s one of the things I admire and respect him.

Lee Williams – You’ve been writing for so many years but you’ve also been writing a lot of the new hits with some of the contemporary artist haven’t you?

Bill Anderson – That’s been fun too. A song called ‘Whiskey Lullaby’ in 2005 that Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss did and a number one Song of the Year and another in 2007 George Strait recorded ‘Give It Away’. So I’ve been very blessed with it. I love writing with the new writers, I learn something every time

Lee Williams – Would you think you’d still be picking up awards after all this time?

Bill Anderson – (laughs) No of course I didn’t,  but I never got in the business to pick up awards that’s not important to me , that’s just the icing on the cake. The fun is making the music and writing the songs and performing. If they give you an award that’s very nice but that’s not why I do it.

Lee Williams – Do you do much performing, touring?

Bill Anderson – I do a pretty good bit. I’m involved with several different things at home right now. I host a television series called Country's Family Reunion [seen in the UK on digital channel 280, Horse & Country. It airs regularly in the United States on RFD-TV] which for a brief time was on Rural TV here. It’s all over television in The States and we tour with the Country's Family Reunion Road Show. I still do a certain amount of Auditorium dates and festivals with my full band and I’ve also formed an acoustical trio that I take out on the road like. We do more like were doing here but with a little more instrumentation where it’s called an “Intimate Evening with Bill Anderson” and we just go out onto the stage in small venues and do the singer-songwriter. Halve of the show is devoted to the songs I’ve written for other people and I tell people about them and then the other halve is Bill Andersons records. So I really have a multi-faceted career right now, after all these years and I enjoy every bit of it.     

Lee Williams – Have you written any songs for TV series or films?

Bill Anderson – No not really, I’ve written some they’ve just never used them (laughs). Way back it must have been the late 60’s I co-wrote a theme song for a movie for of the week on television called ‘Stranger On The Run’. But other than that I’ve never really aimed towards that, it’s never and it’s never fallen in my lap. I wish someday it would.

Lee Williams – Are there any new songs that are coming on with the new artists?

Bill Anderson – I’ve got a new record out myself actually that I recorded with The Oakridge Boys and if you’ve got a minute I’ll give you a copy of it. The Oaks have been friends of mine for years. In fact on their early Wembley Festivals I really got to know The Oaks flying over here and flying back and this was right at the end of their gospel days. They had just started making country records and the audience at Wembley didn’t quite know how to take them. But I just saw so much there and loved the guys personally and finally after all these years we’ve made a record together called ‘Goin’ Away’. It’s about all the things in our life’s that we’ve seen come and go. Everything from old cars to old ball teams to The Beatles. Umm, Beatles, we say “collectively known away” and then it pays tribute to a lot of people in country music who are no longer with us   

Lee Williams – Is there anything left that you haven’t done that you want to do?

Bill Anderson – (laughs) oh probably so, but I can’t really think of anything if something comes along and waves something in front of me – Well yeah, I’ve never done that let’s try that. I’ve always been one who loves a challenge. I love an opportunity to do new things and if something comes along I really wanted to do then Lord willing, my health willing, then I’d love to do it. If not I’m perfectly content to rest on the career that I’ve had because it’s been a wonderful life, I’ve been very blessed  and I’ve had a lot of fun. 

Lee Williams – Well it’s been a real treat for you to come over to us to the UK to do these shows and I’m really looking forward to seeing you. I’ve seen the sound check and I really want to see the show. So I’m looking forward to that tonight Bill.

Bill Anderson – Thank you, so are we, nice of you Lee to visit with us.

Bill Anderson "Gone Away" snippet
http://soundcloud.com/billanderson/gone-away-mp3

SOURCES - Thanks to CMR Nashville broadcast (10 March)

PHOTO
With Bob DiPiero, Clint Black and Bill Anderson at Islington Assembly Hall.

Bob DiPiero on Facebook:
We had a great crowd at Islington Assembly Hall in London last night. Bill Anderson, Bob Dipiero and I played for about two and a half hours. Here's my set list to the best of my recollection..., in no particular order;
Killin Time, A Better Man, Like the Rain, Something That We Do, Code of the West, Better and Worse(new song), and One More Payment! There were stories to go along with each of the ...songs, as is the tradition with the "songwriter in the round" shows.

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