Song: “21 Times”


Web-Exclusive Interview with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

Billy Crockett-2How did the idea of “21 Times” come to you?

Awareness of our finiteness dawns on us eventually. I had read Paul Bowles’ novel, The Sheltering Sky, in which two travelers begin to understand that opportunities for experience, and for reconciliation, are numbered.  And, yet, “it all seems limitless.”  I wrote this song with Milton Brasher-Cunningham.


album-spot1What is your creative process for writing songs?

Pen, guitar, then voice. When it’s guitar, voice, then pen, I’m usually in for a long ride. The big challenge is finding something worth saying.  If I attend to that first, the songs are more often keepers.


What songwriting tip would you like to offer?

Accountability. I have so many ways to deflect the call to write songs. These days, a bit of peer pressure is the ticket. I’m more productive when I find another writer, or several, and we each promise to bring fresh work every week. It’s a value added deal, ’cause great friendships can happen at the same time.


Top 5 Musicians or Songwriters who inspired you?

Jimmy Webb, Mac McAnally, Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin, Neil Finn, Jesse Winchester, Anaïs Mitchell—well, that’s seven!
One instrument or equipment that you can’t live without—that helps you write, record or perform?

1957 (my birth year) Gibson J-50 acoustic guitar.

album-spot2Why is your Gibson J-50 so essential to you?

It’s honest. That’s just vital in writing and recording. Maybe it’s the mileage—it has obviously been around the moon. Or maybe it’s the old mahogany. I found it in a vintage instrument store in Austin, and immediately featured it on a record I produced for the great Cliff Eberhardt, 500 Miles: The Blue Rock Sessions (Red House Records). It seems every time I pick it up, it has another story to tell. Maybe it’s that I’ve put on a few miles myself, and it listens to my stories. At any rate, the conversation feels honest. Occasionally, when playing in Texas, I’ll use it on a gig. Mostly it stays home, and out of the case. Makes me glad to look at it.


For someone who is only now discovering Billy Crockett, what one album should they listen to—to start them on their Billy Crockett journey?

I’m always thrilled to have listeners. Let’s say Wishing Sky, from 2009. It’s the first project of a new era for me. It feels like breathing. The songs are, as I see them, the confessions of a guy wrestling with his freedom.

What are your Top 5 favorite albums?

This list is constantly changing for me. Today’s list:

Nilsson Schmilsson (1971) – Harry Nilsson

Dreaming Wide Awake (2005) – Lizz Wright

Court and Spark (1974) – Joni Mitchell

Ten Easy Pieces (1996) – Jimmy Webb

Steady On (1989) – Shawn Colvin

1-Nilsson-Schmilsson 2-Lizz-Wright 3-jon-mitchell 4-jimmy-web 5-Shawn-Colvin

Are you working on a new album?

Yes, I just finished four days of tracking 13 new songs here at Blue Rock Studio with a handful of renowned musicians—Roscoe Beck, Eric Darken and Daran DeShazo. The album is scheduled for release October 1, 2016.  I’m glad to say I’ll be out touring regionally this fall and next spring.

— Merlin David







Billy Crockett-1

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