One of the most formative artists in the past few decades, Billy Crain takes his musicianship to a whole new level. The Nashville native has been garnering waves with a few new pieces from his latest endeavor due out later this month. Throughout his lengthy career he has played with the likes of The Allman Brothers and the Stones, to newer artists such as the Dixie Chicks. Taking on his solo work, we have the pleasure of chatting with Crain about his music and upcoming release, here at Ethnocloud.
When you are writing music, what comes first, the music or the lyrics?
It used to ALWAYS be music, melody, title, then lyrics but I have changed it up over the years. I keep a constantly flowing list of titles (nothing harder than trying to write a song with no title!) I also write poetry and bits of lyrics and store melodies and chord changes on my iPhone. I rarely just sit down and write a song anymore. I just look at my pile of ideas and put something together.
There really is no set formula that you have to use to write a song...
What is the inspiration and aspirations behind the latest single releases?
The first single was called "Cold Feet" and it was about all the times I wanted to go out there and grab my wife hard at work in the garden and move it to hard at work in the bedroom!!! I have a very beautiful wife and man she can turn me on. I will tell you a funny story. When it went Top 40, the preacher at my church made a really big deal about it after the Sunday service. A few months later we were in Honduras together. I was noodling on an acoustic guitar and started singing "Cold Feet" Father Ray got this horrified look on his face and said '93Billy, you should have TOLD me that that song was about wanting to get lucky with your wife, and I said 'well you should've listened to the song first before plugging it. At least it was about my wife!!!' "Hard Places" is about our two adopted children. We were foster parents and ended up adopting them. One of their families blew up the garage making methamphetamine and the other little one was born addicted to heroin. They call them children from Hard Places. The song is about how the world looks to them through their eyes. 100% of the proceeds from this CD have gone to funding the Papillion Center for FASD.
What is the meaning behind the title of the tracks and what does it signify?
Well we KNOW what Cold Feet is about and Hard Places is about children born into this world through difficult birth, adoption, abuse, Fetal Alcohol Spectral disorder, Neo Natal Abstinance Syndrome, etc. These kids come with a myriad of problems. They may look normal and act normal but they have so much confusion inside. John Q Public doesn't always get to see what my wife and I see. These kids from Hard Places need to be loved and helped. It's just heart breaking what they and the families have to go through...
What is the ultimate inspiration when penning the tracks, especially on the new record?
God, of course for me. I ask for HIS guidance and I usually get it!! I like true life stuff. I spent 20 years as a staff songwriter on Music Row and I got so tired of writing what I THOUGHT everyone else wanted to hear on the radio. How many times can you rhyme with the word 'love'? Now I get to write what I would like to hear on the radio. Also each new CD has a concept and that concept is usually about helping some part of mankind. We give away the proceeds each record. Do I make any money? No, but I sure have a good time giving it away!!!
Do you produce and record your own records, or do you head into the studio?
I have a studio here at the house. I record, write, and produce all my CD's. I'm NOT the best guy at telling other musicians what I hear in my head. I DO know how to get it on CD so I'm a lone wolf when it comes to my projects.
We hear you have a new record in the works! What can you tell us about the theme of the upcoming piece, if you can spill any details of course.
Sure I can!! It "Broken Things," and 100% of the proceeds are going to an orphanage that we help support in Honduras. We are all from the Island of Misfit Toys (Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer,) but God doesn't see us that way. I have learned that you don't have to have big houses and shiny new cars to be happy. I still dress like I did in high school (jeans, jean shirts, and boots.) I drive a 2006 Cadillac that I love and I'm about as broken as they come and God STILL loves me. I wrote it with my wife, Sandy, by the way. There's a song called "Shark Heart" which is about sexual predators on the internet. "Under the Rainbow" is about a midwestern girl that goes to Broadway to pursue her dreams. Orphan is about exactly that including myself as in 2013, both my parents died within a month of each other. There's a lot of good stuff on there and of course there are plenty of guitars!!!!
What are your key musical goals for the end of the year?
Man Jeremy, I've already hit them. I have a song "Hard Places" sitting at #13 on the Top 200 AC Charts right now. "Cold Feet" made it to #38 starting falling off the charts and slowly dropped to #109 and THEN miraculously revived itself and is now at #55 and will have charted for a year straight in 2 weeks!!! Right now my goal is to get Broken Things mixed and mastered and that's about all that.
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