Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My "Bill Anderson" Music Project

I'm done, finished. One of the best feelings I get in my life is that moment when I've completed something on my "to do" list and I can cross it off. I find myself with this sense of accomplishment on a daily, weekly and "long term" basis. 

The daily items are things like washing the dishes, feeding the dog or running a series of errands in Bowling Green.

Weekly tasks include: setting out the can with the recyclable materials or mowing the yard. 

Reorganizing my music collection, creating a "Rewind" program script, or completing the children's story I'm writing; fall into the "long term" column. The degree of satisfaction I feel is in direct proportion to the amount of time it takes to complete a task. 

This past Tuesday I finished a "long term" item; something I've worked on all summer. I'll call it my "Bill Anderson" music project. It included downloading digital versions of over 500 songs, importing them over to I-Tunes, rearranging them into specific categorized albums, and adding the song title information onto my music collection spreadsheet. 

The reason for this lengthy, detailed oriented project is that the songs are an emotional connection to two of the many important relationships that helped make me who I am today. 

The music of country singer Bill Anderson was an integral part of the "soundtrack" of my family life when I was growing up. He was my mom's favorite country singer and his albums played frequently in our home. 

His songs bring back specific memories. When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I remember, holding his "Still" album cover in my hand and waiting in the crowd at the right side of the outdoor stage of Ontelaunee (pronounced "aw-tuh-lawn-ee) Park in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania. That's where I asked Mr. Anderson to sign the cover for my mom. 

Bill Anderson's songs are part of the fabric in my blanket of memories about my parents; both as individuals and as a married couple. They're also tied to memories of the four of us (my parents, my little sister and I) just spending time together as a family. 

Bill Anderson music was also a big part of the friendship I had with my cousin, Gary, especially during our "best buddy" days before we discovered girls. 

Because both sets of our parents listened to country music;  we collaterally became fans as well Eddy Arnold and Bill Anderson were our favorites. 

We would sit around singing their songs anytime we were together. Some of our Bill Anderson favorites were: Still, Restless, When I Loved Her, The Reverend Mr. Black, and Molly. 

Now that you know some of the history behind the significance of Bill Anderson's music, for me, let's get to the story of the project. 

Back in May, Gary emailed me a digital file with everything Bill Anderson recorded from 1965 to 2005. There were 47 albums and more than 500 songs. However my interest in this collection was very specific. I only imported about 20% of them into my collection

I've already mentioned the basic process I used to complete the project. In I-Tunes I recreated 3 albums exactly as they were originally released on vinyl back in the 60's and early 70's. 

Their covers are pictured below:Bill and Jan or Jan and Bill, an album of duets with fellow Grand Ole' Opry member,Jan Howard; Always Remember; and probably my favorite, Still.

I also made up other albums: one of, what I consider, his greatest hits (except those from the 3 albums I just mentioned); an album of traditional hymns and one of Christmas songs. There's also an album of some of my favorite "album cuts" that I enjoy but only because they're sung by Bill Anderson.

But my favorite is the compilation album of cover songs. It's Anderson's version of a few country music standards (Rocky Top, Good Old Mountain Dew, and 500 Miles Away From Home) along with some very strange covers of pop songs.

Some of them are: The Chi-Lites "Have You Seen Her?", The Comodores' Three Times A Lady, and the strangest of all, "Kiss You All Over" by INXS.  That one you've gotta hear to believe it. 

So anyway, after a concentrated effort, I've whittled the 500 song "Whisperin Bill" collection to my 105 favorites. Now with just a few touches on my I-Pod I can musically travel back and revisit my childhood. 

The project is done and I'm crossing it off my "to do" List. Now on to the next big thing. 

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