Oklahoma-born Vince Gill broke into the music biz when he was 18-years old when he made his first bluegrass album. Now with 22-million albums sold to date, 15 Grammys Awards and 18 Country Music Association Awards — he is truly a superstar in the country music world.
This interview was originanlly conducted in August, 2002, with all the questions coming from members of the Vince Fan Club.
I always enjoy seeing and hearing you share your musical talents, singing and playing so many different instruments. Do you know how many guitars, mandolins, dobros, etc. you have in your collection? — Tricia
Vince: Gosh, an exact number of what I have in my collection, no I don’t. I kind of have a few just favorites that I know I need and love. Those are the ones that end up getting the most use.
I would like to know what Jenny has been doing lately. I got to meet her at your Belmont Celebrity Basketball Game and Concert in 2000 and I was so excited to meet her. — Rachel
Vince: My daughter Jenny is twenty years old, has started school. Again! (laughs) She’s going to be a freshman in college this fall at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She has her first apartment so she’s kinda out on her own… gonna watch life unfold for that kid-she’s doing great.
All your fans love watching you on CMT. With the new album coming out soon, will you be doing any new videos in the near future? — Ronni
Vince: As far as new videos for me, I’m sure the record company, MCA, will make me do a video. (laughs) That’s probably one of my least favorite things in the world to do, is do videos and be in front of the camera like that. It always has felt awkward to me. I understand their necessity in our culture and our music, and they do great things for a lot of artists. Some of them are fun, some of them are kind of tedious and hard work, but I’m sure there will be a video or two off the new album.
Click here to listen to Vince Gill answer questions from fans, relayed to him by MSNBC.com chat producer Will Femia.
How has life changed since the birth of Corrina? Has having a baby changed the way you look at your career? — Patty
ince: I don’t know that my life has changed. If it’s changed, it’s certainly changed for the better. Having a baby at this age is quite a different set of circumstances almost. I feel like that at age 45 now… Corrina is 17 months old, and I have an awful lot of my hard work behind me. So with that comes a great deal of peace and I have a lot of patience with Corrina. She doesn’t need much because she’s such a good kid. As far as the way I look at my career, you know, it’s the same as it’s ever been. I love playing the guitar, I love singing, I love writing songs. Kids or no kids that’s still what moves me as much as anything, but it sure is great having a great big family to lean on.
Will there be any songs about or for Corrina on your new album? — Kacee
Vince: On this new one, not really. As it’s turned out, there’s kind of been one song that’s turned up as her favorite. It’s a song that I wrote, let’s see if I can think of the name of it… oh, it’s called “We Had It All.” It kind of has a Spanish feel to it, and there’s something about it that really turns Corrina on because she dances like crazy. Every time we put that in, she goes to the stereo, points to the stereo and says “Daddy? Daddy?” At some point I’m sure they’ll be a Corrina song. There’s already a great Corrina song, “Corrina, Corrina,” … been done a bunch, … but maybe someday.
From what I understand, you have written many songs over the years that you’ve never recorded. What is the process of deciding which songs to record on an album, and which songs not to record? — Sherrie
Vince: Well, it’s pretty simple… you try not to record the bad ones! (laughs) That’s the interesting thing about writing a lot of songs over the years-hopefully the process of deciding what to record is really more about what you think is a better song. For the last 13 years Tony and I have just put all the songs together and said, we like this one, don’t like this one quite so much, this one feels good, this one doesn’t feel good. To make an album you need a lot of different things. I don’t anticipate someday making a record of all the songs I didn’t record ‘cause deep down there’s probably a good reason why they didn’t end up on the records. (laughing)
I’m wondering if you can cook? If so, what is you favorite dish to make? — Kerri
Vince: I am not much of a cook. I like the kitchen, obviously! (laughs) That’s a no-brainer, just look at me. I can cook a little bit… I kind of get in there and help Amy in the kitchen every now and then. I’m the “Grill Master,” you know, all men think they can grill meat, it’s their job and all. I have utensils and all the stuff. I can do a pretty good steak and those kinds of stuff on the grill, make breakfast fairly regular, you know, sausage and eggs, bacon and eggs, that kind of stuff. And just burgers and stuff, simple stuff, I can do okay. Obviously, I’ve made it this far.
Would you ever consider releasing a live album for us fans? We fans think your albums are great but seeing you in concert just takes the cake! I personally would request “Nothing Like a Woman” on this album. — Joanne
Vince: You know, the days of live recording are probably way past. The great thing about live music is just that, that it’s live, it’s spontaneous, and it’s that moment. To capture it and have it to play back, play back, and play back, it gives you the opportunity to critique it, critique it, critique it. I think that to me, what makes the beauty of playing live so appealing is the fact that it’s just that moment. It’s interesting because if you knew that the recorders were going, taping what you were doing, you would probably not wind up doing the same thing that you would do… it’s just an odd mindset when you know that the red light’s on and what you’re doing is being captured. To me the purity of music is to experience it in the moment. But you know, you never know. I have such a great band that I would enjoy some of the stuff we do live that doesn’t sound like the records all the time-it makes it fun and stretches it out, and everybody gets to play. Me being a musician that’s real appealing, so I would never rule it out.
I’d just love to hear you describe your new album. — Debbie
Vince: I love the fact that you call it an album, Debbie. (laughs) That’s what I still call them… everybody calls them CDs now, but they’re still albums and records to me. Guess that’s ‘cause I’m such an old guy. You know, the fun part about this record is I can feel as the years have gone I find myself at 45 years old and having been a country artist for 20 years, I don’t feel the pressure quite so strongly to have hit records, you know be on the radio all the time. I find that the records I record I want them to be successful, I want to have hit records, I wanna still do all the things I’ve always done, but the pressure’s not quite so great. I think that gives me a little bit more freedom. And this record I think that hopefully for me I’ve made some strides as a songwriter and written some better songs than the previous record. That’s all I’ve ever really tried to do is improve from the last record I made. I have a few songs on here that I just couldn’t be prouder of. But from the aspect of writing some songs that kind of make me feel like I’m acting my age or something, I don’t know what it is. I’m just proud of it. And the fact that I did this myself in the production and all that… so it’s kind of like starting over, and there were times when it was really exhilarating in the studio and coming up with stuff, and times where it was really lonely in the fact that Tony wasn’t there to bounce things off of. I just really missed him a lot. But I’m proud of it, wouldn’t change a note of it, and we’ll see if anybody thinks it’s any good about two years after it’s been out. (laughs)
Being a new dad at any age is for sure a wonderful thing, but what have you found to be the biggest positive in being a new dad in your 40’s? — Trudy
Vince: You know, nothing’s changed. You can’t love your kids more, you can’t love your kids less. Just being a parent is an amazing responsibility, and the pride I think is the biggest positive. For me and Amy to see that creation of our bloodlines is something we’re both really inspired by. I think the biggest positive of being a new dad is who the momma is for this baby.
Do you have a title for a song in mind before you start to write it? Or do you give the song its title after you have written it? — Brenda
Vince: It goes both ways. There’s a song on this new record that was a title that I had in mind-it’s called “Young Man’s Town.” A lot of times you do write songs based on a title, but I think to do that all the time is probably not wise. I think sometimes you finish a song and say “well this might be a better title for it,” so no rules.
I’m eight years old and in third grade. I really want to meet you when I come to Nashville for my 9th birthday this summer. I also want to meet baby Corrina. She is really, really cute. Is she a good baby? I also wanted to tell you that I saw you when I was 4 in Essex Jct., VT in the POURING rain. I still sang every song word with you. — Michelle
Vince: Well, Michelle, by the time I’ve gotten this you may already be nine, and we may have met, you never know. I met a kid on the street this summer and it might have been you. Corrina is a great baby. She’s amazing, she doesn’t fuss much, she’s just getting ready to start walking, and she’s a great kid. And thanks for coming to see me in Vermont. See ya.
I know your Dad played music. Did you ever have the chance to perform on stage with him? If so, when and where? — Cathy
Vince: We just played mostly when we were young and we did perform some together when I was young, still a kid in school-nine, 10, 11 years old. And then for a long time, no, we didn’t get a chance to ever play together, but in Dayton, Ohio about seven, eight years ago… he came out and sang a song with us and we had a big crowd, sold out, and I just wanted him to get to hear that roar and he did. Pretty sweet.
I would like to know where you got your daughter’s name from? I have a daughter also named Corinna (our spelling) and she was named after a song — Corinna, Corinna. — Sheila
Vince: Yea, same song. I first heard this song by Bob Wills and was just thumbing through some names in one of those books that has a million names in it, and was kind of struggling to find a name and I told Amy about this name, Corrina. Amy looked at me like I was crazy, but then I told her “this baby has got some pretty neat sass to her”-she’s got black hair and lots of it and she kind of looked like a party waiting to happen. (laughs) And so she called her Dad and Dad asked her what we were thinking about naming the baby, and she told him “Oh, we’re thinking about Corrina,” and he started singing (sings) “Corrina, Corrina,” and she was hooked.
Vince, “When I Call Your Name” is my absolute favorite country song. I think it is the epitome of a country music song, both vocally and instrumentally. It brings tears to my eyes. Do you have a favorite country song that you feel the same way about? —Linda
Vince: Gosh, thank you for the compliment of “When I Call Your Name.” I’m extremely proud of that song, just because of a lot of reasons-what it did for my career, the fact it had Patty Loveless on it… I wrote it with an old friend, Tim DuBois, and all the other stuff it did was good stuff. My favorite country song I think is probably “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Either that one or any Hank Williams song will work, you know, “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” or what’s the really pretty slow one (hums)… “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”… might be one of the greatest songs ever. You know, there’s been so many I don’t know if I could pick a favorite. “Together Again” is about as good a country song as ever, and I think that the record has a lot to do with it too.
Outside of the United States, what other country do you most enjoy playing in and why? — Pamela
Vince: Well, I don’t know where you’re from Pam, but I’ve traveled a bunch of different places-I’ve been to Australia a couple times, been to Europe several times, been to Canada a bunch. Canada is great. I think Ireland might be the most intense crowd I’ve ever played music for. They just seem to be more in love with music than maybe anywhere I’ve ever been. They know all the words to the songs, and you can just tell that they really do love their music so that would probably be one of my favorite places. I think that’s because also it’s where our music came from… Scotland, Ireland and those old folk songs, so everything we learned to do probably came from there.
Do you have any plans to put “A River Like You” on your next album? Those of us who have heard you sing it on the Opry have been patiently waiting for you to record it. — Valerie
(Laughs) Sounds like you’re a little mad that I haven’t! I don’t blame you. It’s an old song… the song is nearly twenty years old and I’ve always enjoyed singing it and we’ve talked about it for years; Tony and I have talked about it for years, putting it on a record. You know, I have several songs that have been around for a long time-”Jenny Dreamed Of Trains” was around 15, 16 years before I ever put it on a record. A lot of times it depends on the album I’m making, if that song would fit. Amy just recorded a song of mine called “The River’s Gonna Keep On Rolling” on her new record so I was a little gun shy about having two river songs come out back to back (laughs). But you know at some point it will turn up on a record, I’m sure.
I know you have your family, music and friends in Nashville, but you’ve been all over the country when touring. Is there any place that would tempt you to leave Nashville to live? — Trish
Vince: Gosh, I’ve lived in Nashville longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my life, more than Oklahoma where I grew up for 18 years. So I’ve been here for nearly 20. I just think this is an amazing place; it’s a great city, it’s a great melting pot. I love where it’s located, I love the terrain here, I like the people here, and the golf is fabulous (laughs)! So I don’t know, especially being married to Amy-her family grew up here-she has a huge family… so I would think this will be my home.
I wanted to know if you would share with us your experience working in the studio with your wife and what it was like working with Brown? And also, what did you think of the promotional tour for this album and the fans you encountered with regard to CCM since it is not a genre you are typically affiliated with? — Rhema
Vince: Well, let me start with working with Amy… in making this record it was, I think, a spiritual journey for all of us first and foremost, which made it even more special. The songs that Amy chose to sing were her choice, hers and Brown’s and Mike Blanton. So they kind of picked all the songs and asked me if I would take them musically in maybe a totally different place than they would ever think about taking them because they have known these songs for 40 years. I know some of them; I don’t know all of them. Just from that experience, not having the pressure of going into the studio and saying “Let’s record a hit record”… we just got to do this music totally spontaneous. If we wanted to put four hymns together we put four hymns together. I just had all these totally “out there” ideas, you know, the one instrumental we did Richard Bennett wrote and played. As he was playing it I had this idea of Amy reading some of her favorite scripture, as opposed to a song. Having that, having her father’s prayer, we were getting ready to record “Marching To Zion,” and she had all her oldest friends that she’s known her whole life all the in studio getting ready to sing and she asked her Dad to say a prayer before we started to record this. I just said, “Steve, Steve, quick, record this.” I think the neatest part of that was that Brown and I both have lost our fathers and for Amy to have the opportunity to hear her father’s voice would be very precious to her. I never told her that we’d recorded it. I didn’t show it to her and play it for her until the album was all finished and it was really a sweet moment. So for all those reasons it was great fun to work with Amy… just what the project was all about. It was not a project to try to generate a hit record or anything like that so it made it real special.
And working with Brown was a treat. He’s one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met in my life. We got along great. We both a couple of emotional basket cases and I just couldn’t have had a better partner.
As far as the tour that I did with Amy, I love that. I got to see first hand the impact that she has made with her music over these 25 years and it’s pretty staggering, you know, to see how many lives that she’s touched, how many people she’s led out of some dark places into finding faith. It was really spectacular to get out there and see that firsthand. And the people, you know, people are the same all over the world. Regardless of whether they love rock and roll or Christian music or country music or the blues, the music’s all kind of the same to me, and I’ve found that through traveling the world these last 30 years that people are pretty much the same everywhere so I enjoyed getting to meet a lot of them very, very much.
I had the pleasure of seeing you and Amy during her concert tour to promote her new CD. Do you anticipate that you will record more music with the two of you singing together? — Patty
Vince: You know we’re just kind of taking it as it comes. When we got married I don’t think either one of us anticipated the fact that I might have the opportunity to produce this record with Brown. It’s kind of all unfolding, you know, as time goes on and I don’t think we’ll do a lot of it, but we’re certainly going to do some of it, and just ‘no plans.’ I’d hate to make a plan because then I’d have to follow through on it (laughing)! So I just like kind of reacting to life and we’ll see what happens as life unfolds.
Used courtesy of the official Vince Gill Fan Club at VinceGill.com.