Interview: Bill Anderson Wants to Inspire With New Autobiography
Bill Anderson is a singer, songwriter, TV personality, entrepreneur ... and, now, three-time author. The 78-year-old has penned a new autobiography, Whisperin' Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music, giving readers an intimate look into the highs and lows of his life and career.
"I thought maybe some other people could draw inspiration from the fact that I didn’t give up," Anderson shares with The Boot of his motives for writing his third autobiography, out now. "I didn’t just go crawl in a hole somewhere and hide when I thought it was over and when I thought I had run out of anything that mattered to anybody. I refer to Yogi Berra the baseball player, who said, ‘It ain’t over until it’s over,’ and I’ve kind of found out that that’s kind of been my life; it wasn’t as over as I thought it was. I thought maybe I could share that with other people."
In Whisperin' Bill Anderson, the country icon shares his numerous successes -- writing hits for Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss, among others; his role as an artist in his own right; his stint as an actor on One Life to Live and game show host; and various other endeavors -- but he also delves into some of the trials in his life, including his two divorces.
"How do you expect people to believe the good parts if you don’t share the bad parts?" Anderson explains. "Nobody gets through life without being scathed. We’ve all got bumps and bruises, cuts and scars. I certainly did not do everything right, by a long shot, but I’m not ashamed, and I’m not trying to hide anything, and hopefully they'll accept it, warts and all."
And the tunesmith has no regrets or reservations about sharing, either.
"If you’re going to write an autobiography, you can’t rewrite history. You've got to tell it like it happened," Anderson admits. "I guess I could have started it off the day I came to Nashville, got caught in a snowstorm and didn’t think I was going to get here. I just felt like that’s part of the story: To understand where you are, you have to understand where you came from."
How do you expect people to believe the good parts if you don’t share the bad parts? Nobody gets through life without being scathed. We’ve all got bumps and bruises, cuts and scars ... I’m not ashamed, and I’m not trying to hide anything.
As a country singer, Anderson has earned No. 1 hits with songs such as "Mama Sang a Song," "Still" and "I Get the Fever," among others. However, Anderson says that his favorite part of his career has been writing songs -- and it wasn't until later in his career that he discovered his love of songwriting, especially co-writing.
"I used to think you had to pull down the shades and turn down the lights and write sad songs at 3 in the morning by yourself," Anderson reveals. "Here I am, working with these people in the daytime. At 10 in the morning, we’re drinking coffee, and we’re writing songs, and we’re laughing, and we’re having fun. I wanted to get that across to people [in my book], because that was such a revelation to me."
Ultimately, Anderson wants his fans to know how well his life has turned out, but also allow them to see the challenges and adversity he overcame.
"I had written an autobiography in 1989. I thought, in 1989, that I had done everything that I was going to do, that I had climbed all the mountains, been through all the valleys, and let’s just put it all down on paper and go on and see where life takes us from here," he recalls, referencing his first book, Whisperin' Bill. "And then, about four or five years later, there came the beginning of a whole new career for me, a second career, particularly in the songwriting career. And I ended up probably being more successful in the second career than I did in the first one."
Anderson insists that Whisperin' Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music has something for everyone, from the new country music fan to those who have been with him since early in his career.
"The book is not a 'one size fits all' kind of thing," he notes. "It’s not aimed strictly at the fans. It’s not aimed strictly at the songwriters and the other artists. But I hope that all of those people, different groups of people, can get something from the book that will inspire them, perhaps educate them a little bit, and hopefully tickle their funny bone along the way."
Whisperin' Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music is available for purchase on Amazon.
Bill Anderson Discusses Whisperin' Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music