He’s one of the most loved personalities in Music City, and many of Nashville’s finest turned out at Bridgestone Arena yesterday to celebrate the career and accomplishments of MCA Nashville recording artist Vince Gill.
A packed crowd — including Grand Ole Opry GM Pete Fisher, journalist Robert K. Oermann, and the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Kyle Young — turned out for the event, which saw Gill recognized by several Nashville organizations for his charitable efforts. The Nashville Predators presented Gill with a bobblehead bearing his likeness, and he also received honors from the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fender Guitars, and MCA, among others. Nashville mayor Karl Dean presented the Country Music Hall of Fame member with a proclamation that this is to be “Vince Gill Week” in the city.
The singer, who releases his “Guitar Slinger” disc on Oct. 25, was asked about the fact that many consider him to be an ambassador to the city — much like fellow Opry stars Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl were in their day.
“Well, I’m grateful that people would think that,” he said with a great deal of reverence. “I’ve always had a great respect for what has come before me. I know where my gifts come from. I know why I was able to do this because of those who sacrificed and came before me. I’ll never lose sight of that. I learned some valuable lessons from the way those people treated others. That’s the beauty of my relationship out there is that the friendships that have been forged are light years more important to me than the handful of songs I’ve sung on the stage. The songs only last three minutes,” he says, while noting that friendships last a lifetime.
Still, it’s those songs that keep making an impact time in and time out. His 1990 “When I Call Your Name” single consistently ranks near the top of “Best Country Songs of All-Time” lists, and his inspirational songs continue to touch lives and hearts. “Hey, God,” a 2000 cut written about the passing of Golf legend Payne Stewart, is one of his more poignant songs, while “Go Rest High On That Mountain,” a No. 12 single from 1995, has become a favorite song to be played at funerals. Gill said you never know what will strike a chord with the listener.
“You don’t know that going in,” he confesses. “With ‘Go Rest High On That Mountain’ – I never anticipated that anyone was going to hear it. I wasn’t even sure I was going to record that song. I was just trying to get over losing my brother. Some people heard it, and said ‘You really ought to record that.’ Tony Brown was the biggest champion of all to record that song. Of course, now in hindsight, you look back and understand why. I don’t think I was ever that much of a goal-setter, or a dreamer. I just liked the moment – being as good as I could be at that moment. The next days will take care of themselves. I never looked down the road,” he said, while admitting he does have a goal for the 1995 CMA Song of the Year. “I’ve always hoped that song could wind up in a hymnal some day. Why it would mean so much to me is that’s the first place I knew music existed… hearing my grandmother play ‘How Great Thou Art’ out of the hymnal.”
Gill will release Guitar Slinger, his first new set in four years, on October 25. On the changes in the business since then, he says that “The hardest thing to embrace for me, with all sincerity is the de-valuzation of what music is deemed to be worth.”
He adds, “That’s what I struggle with the most. Whatever anyone creates, its value is 99 cents. That’s what a record cost in 1960. You don’t have to look too hard to see that in the last four years, the industry is less than half what it used to be. I don’t know why that is, but if you have the opportunity to give somebody something that will last them a lifetime — and you think it’s worth 99 cents, that’s criminal to me.”
Gill will soon embark on an extensive media tour that includes The Tonight Show, Today, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!