I grew up with singers. My father's mother sang opera. My dad was a big band singer. I can't remember a time there wasn't music in the house, so I grew up listening to great songwriters - George Gershwin, Cole Porter - and my grandma was playing opera for me before I was 3.
I think I've been influenced by everything I've ever heard. The first thing I ever heard was my grandma, who was an opera singer. The first song I ever learned was the 'Nessun Dorma' from Puccini's 'Turandot.' My father was a big band singer, so I used to hear him walking around the house singing standards all the time.
My dad was a huge big band and jazz fan, and we both sort of enjoyed be-bop, but man, it required so much skill to play it. And then there was cool jazz, the era that Miles, Coltrane, and Ornette ushered in, and that found a home in me. It turns out that that music was just really where I breathed.
I'm always writing something. There's always some structure sitting around someplace. There's always things on the computer, things scratched on score paper, legal tablets full of lyrics. It's never not buzzing around me all the time. I'm always doing it.
I had no idea what those cords were in the bridge of 'Prisoner In Disguise' when I wrote them. I had to go over to Don Gorman, the piano player, and ask what in the world I was playing.
A song of mine called 'I'll Take Care of You' was on that 'Wide Open Spaces' Dixie Chicks album.
Dixie Chicks surprised me with a beautiful three-part harmony version of 'I'll Take Care of You.' And Don Henley's performance of 'The Heart of the Matter' still just slays me every time I hear it.
I have a wonderful piano that I really love: a handmade Yamaha grand. Sometimes I'm sitting there, and it sounds so good that I find some little melody or a phrase that leads me into a song, but probably more often than not, I actually grab a notebook.
There's no musical landscape to poetry. It has somewhat of a higher standard than songs, I think.
If it hadn't worked out professionally, I would be teaching music theory and composition in a small college somewhere and playing drums in a jazz trio at the Holiday Inn on weekends, and I'd be happy there, too.
I don't want to think that anything is off limits for me to write about, but I also don't want to intrude on anybody's life, which is why there's very little specificity or names in the songs I write.
I didn't even respect singers until I heard Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong.
I don't have any particular methodology, to tell you the truth. 'Silver Blue' took exactly the amount of time to write that it takes to sing it, and 'Prisoner in Disguise' took about a year and a half. So you just never know.
The power of network television is amazing. I've been performing for years but have been seen on only a few episodes of this show, and people spot me in public now all the time. They say, 'Hey, aren't you on 'Nashville'?' Most locals seem to really appreciate how authentic the show is.
In the '80s, I got tired of the rat race. It was a terrible time for music. I wasn't part of that whole MTV craze. I did 'Go Ahead and Rain,' which was Madeleine Stowe's first bit, but felt no connection to it. I went many years where I didn't have to work.
I had given myself a sort of early retirement when I left the scene in 1985. All of the people in my family worked until they dropped, including my father. I decided to take a little time to enjoy life. I traveled, built my dream house, rescued a few dogs. My return to music, and acting, was deliberate, part of my musical arc.
I had a jazz trio, a rock n' roll band, and I played drums in junior high, high school, college, big bands, and I played timpani in the symphony. I am a drummer. It's the one instrument I actually play pretty well. It's just hard to carry on your back.