“Praise the Lord, praise the Lord!” Vince Gill declares, collapsing into the couch in mock exhaustion and relief. The reporter sitting across the coffee table at his Belle Meade home has just informed Gill that over the four CDs, 43 new songs and two hours and 45 minutes of music on his new album, These Days, there appears to be no filler. “I’ve gotta be honest,” he admits, turning his baseball cap to the back. “That’s my greatest fear with this whole thing.”
Gill can put his fears to rest—ranging across traditional country, bluegrass, rock and pop, These Days demonstrates not only its creator’s catholic tastes, but his plentiful skills as a singer, songwriter and guitarist. Thus unburdened, the native Oklahoman settles in to discuss why he elected to take on such an ambitious project.
Scene: Did you always intend to make These Days such a huge undertaking?
Gill: At the start of this record, we had no intention at all of doing four discs. We were gonna do 10, 12 songs and be done with it. But I thought, “I’ve got this song I want to do, I’ve got that song I want to do, and that song, and that song …. Aww, screw it, I’m just gonna stay in here and see what happens.” And then what it turned into, it turned into.
Scene: You cover a lot of stylistic ground on the album. How did you develop such broad tastes?
Gill: It goes back to my very beginning. I was the youngest kid of my family. Before I ever got to go buy my own records, I was at the mercy of whatever everyone else in my family was listening to. My brother was a blues hound, my mom and dad loved great country music, my sister loved folk music and rock ’n’ roll. There was a wide variety of music that I heard. I had an open mind; it’s as simple as that. I can’t fathom why somebody would only like one thing.
Scene: One of the surprises on These Days is that there are some slightly risqué lyrics here and there.
Gill: I know. People are gonna see these lyrics and say, “What’s up with this guy? Isn’t he married to Amy Grant?” (laughs) I am married to Amy, and we’re in a great place. She’s a beautiful woman. She’s earthy, she’s not…how do you say this? I’ve gotta be careful. She’s a lot closer to the earth than anyone would ever imagine, and I love that about her. So yeah, a lot of these songs are about the bedroom. Some of them are meant humorously, but it’s still a pretty good place to wind up.
Scene: Amy sings on the album, as well as a host of big-name guests—Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark and a lot of others. But you seem especially thrilled to have Phil Everly singing harmony on “Sweet Little Corrina.”
Gill: To get to record with Phil Everly was maybe the neatest moment on the record for me, from a historical perspective. I totally admire the records the Everly Brothers made. They’re just the greatest records of all time. He came in and couldn’t have been any sweeter.
Scene: It’s always a relief to meet someone you’ve idolized, and they turn out to be a nice person.
Gill: Yeah, boy. It’s the greatest. The most gifted people always are [nice], hands down. Across the board, it’s been that way. It’s always been a turnoff to me to be around arrogance, or people who need to be pampered. That stuff always made me cringe. Most people that I completely adore couldn’t be more humble and kind, all the things you wish they could be.
Scene: You have a reputation as a fairly nice fellow yourself.
Gill: I see myself as a musician. I think God blessed me with amazing gifts that are special, but I knew from day one that the gift is what’s special. I’m not. If you think you’re special, then you’ve missed the point of getting the gift.
Scene: Speaking of “Sweet Little Corrina,” that song is named after your 5-year-old daughter. What does she think of being immortalized that way?
Gill: She makes me play it over and over, and acts out all the words. There’s a line that says, “Put your pretty little hand in mine,” and the first time she listened to it, she took her hand and put it in mine. I said, “You’re such a pro.” (laughs)
Scene: Now that you’ve had this outpouring of music, what next?
Gill: I don’t know. I don’t think the next one will be eight CDs, or anything like that. (laughs) But I’m already itching to record some more.