Catching Up with Bill Abernathy
Bill Abernathy has been on quite a ride for the past several years. After disappearing from music for the better part of 2 decades, Bill came roaring back in 2017 with his “Find A Way” album. The Top 5 folk chart album also included a #1 Roots Music single. He followed that with 2018’s “Crossing Willow Creek,” which included a Top 5 country radio chart hit, “Cry Wolf.” Now, Abernathy has released his “Who Are You, Who Am I?” EP, which includes his cover of Gary Burr’s “A Thousand Wild Horses.” We caught up with Bill as he prepares for his next musical move...
Hi Bill! Tell us about your latest single, "A Thousand Wild Horses." What is the baggage holding YOU back?
Gary Burr, the writer of A Thousand Wild Horses drew a fantastic analogy between the emotional baggage we all have in our lives, and a herd of horses trying to run us over. I love that. Just the other day I got a text from someone in my past that sent my mind down a rabbit trail of bad memories and brutal emotions. After a short trip down that trail, I thought to myself, it’s just another one of your damn horses Bill. Are you going to let it run over you or are you going to tame it and ride it into the future? I think some songs really meet you in a place in your life, and A Thousand Wild Horses has met me many times. Ride them, don’t let them run you down. I think about that all the time. Thanks, Gary, for a great song! You are a terrific guitar player! Who are your guitar influences? If you could take a lesson from one guitarist, (alive or dead) who would that be?
That’s really a great question. I’ve been influenced by so many players from folk, blues, country, and rock. The players that really interest me are the ones who use the guitar to accentuate the story of the song. To create a sonic atmosphere that helps the song deliver its message. As George Carlin once said, “There are lots of players who can play the notes, but very few who know why the notes need to be played.” When I listen to Steven Stills, Dan Fogelberg, Jim Messina, Jimmy Spheeris, Kenny Loggins, and John Mayer I hear their examples using the guitar to emphasize the message of the song. They know why the notes need to be played. I would love to sit in with any of those players and learn from them. You have been recognized as an amazing storyteller. What is the key to telling a great story in song form?
I think it’s all about having something to say and finding an interesting way to say it. Telling stories is natural for me, and the best stories are ones that are intriguing, challenging, inspirational, humorous, and informative. Being full of it certainly helps. Ha-ha All of us have inspirational and interesting stories to tell about our lives and our experiences. Being able to clarify and translate that inspiration to share with others as a song is a fun and challenging thing to do.
Would you ever consider writing a book of your stories? If it was made into a movie, who would play the protagonist(s)?
I’ve been asked that by many people. I think because they get tired of hearing me talk. Lol. Regarding the movie? I have always been a big Jeff Bridges fan, starting with the movie Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. Of course, “The Dude”, his character in The Big Lebowski is legendary. One of my Guild 12 strings is named “The Dude”. I think Jeff Bridges could have some fun playing me in the movie. “That rug really tied the room together.” “The Dude abides”
Now that COVID is lifting, what can you say is the biggest lesson that you've learned over the past year, related to the pandemic?
When Covid hit I had just gotten off the road from my Living the Dream tour. I was happy with the tour and was looking forward to doing more live shows. And then of course, we all get locked in for a year. Rather than get frustrated about the situation, I chose to find a way to keep playing. I did dozens of live stream shows for fans all over the world, and had a ball doing it. I even did a request thing where I would play and record cover songs for folks that were supporting local businesses. It was fun to figure out the technology, as well as learning how to engage with folks online. What did I learn? I saw so many live stream shows and saw how creative musicians were being with their music. I also was so impressed by businesses that found a way to stay viable during those strangest of times. I learned that there is always as way to make things happen, and with some thought, some work, and some want to, anything can be accomplished. 6Any touring plans?
Yes! I am working on a tour through Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. I am a bit hesitant due to the Covid situations but will certainly be out playing live when the time is right. What is the next single going to be?
I am not sure, but I think we will land on a tune called “The World’s Foremost Authority on Everything”. This tune is a bit tongue in cheek relating to a few folks I have met over the years. We all have that weird uncle at Thanksgiving dinner that claims to be an expert on everything going on in the world today. If you don’t think you have an uncle like that, maybe he’s you. LOL. This is a pure country song, I even played banjo on it, produced in a way to sound like we are playing on the front porch. I think it will be relatable to many folks, and like I said, we have all met this guy at one time or another.
“Whether Politics, Religion, Rocket Science or Brain Surgery
He’s the Worlds Foremost Authority on Everything” You've been nominated and awarded many times over the past several years. Are awards important to you? Why or why not?
Yeah, it’s really cool to be recognized by peers and folks in the industry for your work. It’s an honor and I am humbled each time.
Are they important to me? Not hugely important. What is most important to me is when folks really get what I am saying and enjoy the music I produce. When a fan tells me that one of my tunes really hit home with them, that is worth more that any award. Now if I win a Grammy, hmmm haha Thank you for your time, Bill. It's been a pleasure!