November/December 2011 Lyric Spotlight Q&A: Bill Dee

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Lyric Contest Q&A
1st Place
Written by Bill Dee

“Adelaide” is a song about a lost love that won’t die. What inspired it?

I was trying to write something on my own for a couple days but nothing was really clicking. I sat down on the edge of the bed and that first line stumbled out. I was playing a couple of chords that sounded really good, and it was just kind of a Zen moment, because I like the way the chords sounded in the empty room. It was like, “Oh, this is another song that sounds good in a dark room.” The rest just kind of unfolded. I like old-fashioned names, and the name Adelaide really allows for some good rhyme stuff and I just felt like that should be the chorus. So I took a drive up to Hendersonville and wrote the rest of the song in my head and pretty much put it down that night.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing songs all my life. I’ve always been in bands, and was always one of the guys that wrote the songs. Then about ten years ago I started learning about the Nashville market and writing with writers here. Then I actually moved to Nashville to do more commercial-type songwriting for other people.

Where did you live before Nashville?

I lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Do your songs tend to be autobiographical?

There’s got to be an element of truth pretty much in every song that I write. If it’s someone else’s story, if I’m co-writing, that’s fine, too. Or someone else’s impression or feeling. But I can’t just come up with crazy hooks and try to write some element of realness into them. I think you can tell when there’s not anything real about it.

Do you write songs routinely or do you wait to get inspired?

I don’t really wait to get inspired, because I write every day with artists and writers around town. But I wait to get inspired for my own stuff. I wait ‘til something really strikes me and I turn the idea around in my head until either I reject it, or it turns into something.

Do you write with certain people on a regular basis?

Yeah, there’s a whole roster of artists here in Nashville that I write with regularly. I play guitar for Amber Hayes who is a new country artist. I’m also in her road band and do radio tours and stuff with her as a guitar player and backup singer. Amber’s starting to get some success right now.

Do you ever perform your own songs live?

I’ll do singer-songwriter stuff at The Bluebird Cafe or The Listening Room, or I’ll travel around a little bit and do shows here and there. People ask me to all the time.

Any songwriters you especially admire?

I’m definitely a huge Jackson Browne fan, and a huge Guy Clark fan.

Outside of music, what inspires your writing?

Movies and books – especially short stories. And times of meditation. I try to get out in nature and get with God, kind of just download his creativity, or channel that, however you want to say it. Detach from trying to write something and let something sort of come to me.

Are you working a day job, or are you writing full time now?

Well, I’m playing guitar as my other source of income. So I play guitar around town and also on the road with a few artists. It goes hand in hand with the writing, because you meet other artists and other musicians and a lot of them have writing projects. They refer me to other things they’re doing or people they’re working with. I don’t mind writing on the road. A lot of times I find it easier to write on the road.

Any final thoughts on songwriting?

I think people know the truth when they hear it, so try to keep it real and keep it honest and try to say it a little bit differently. At least that’s what I’m attempting to do.



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1st Place | “Adelaide”