Along with his cultural observations, life and faith songs, singer/songwriter and guitarist Bill Douglass likes to write pieces that are quirky and humorous such as his song “I Lost my Turkey in Albuquerque.”
The song’s chorus goes like this:
"I lost my turkey in Albuquerque
homemade stuffin', corn muffins,
green been casserole
were scattered west of Amarillo"
"We dropped our — pumpkin pies
under blue desert skies
no doubt some coyotes were wishin' for
some whipped cream that night"
"And I think some vultures had a party
from Edgewood to Moriarty
yeah, we lost our turkey and all the parts
but thank God, we didn't lose our hearts
on that Thanksgiving Day we'll never forget."
Originally from the Southern Tier region of Upstate New York, Douglass moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 2010, where he did a lot of songwriting, as well performances at different venues and musical collaborations.
He released his full CD, “Start Again,” in 2019, and moved to Sparta, N.C., in April 2020.
“Start Again” includes mostly upbeat songs.
“I’m more acoustic Americana, but this one was also flavored pop,” Douglass said.
Since moving to Sparta, he has played at O'Callahan's Publick House in Mocksville, Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, Table 31 in Mooresville, as well as a number of venues in and around Sparta, including Laconia, Big Foot Lounge, Trojan Patio and Pines Restaurant.
Most recently he went on the road to Florida and the Little River area in South Carolina.
Q: How would you describe your art?
Answer: I am a songwriter, guitarist, singer and general creator of music. I deal with a wide range of subjects in my songs, many of which generally don't fall into "mainstream" categories. However, as a working musician, I have a variety of cover songs, instrumental guitar compositions and other music to fit the venue where I am playing. Here is a sampling of some of my original song titles with one-line descriptions.
“Start Again.” No matter how many failures and disappointments, there's a new day of promise and opportunity to start again if we don't lose faith and hope.
“Die Trying.” Pursuing something is better than throwing in the towel on your pursuits, dreams and callings.
“Waiting Out the Rain.” An honest expression of times in life when we are doing well just to survive, cope and get by.
“Better Off Without You.” Freedom from addiction presented in a light-hearted way.
“Far Cry From Freedom” and “Welcome to the New Dark Ages.” Two songs that are cultural observations.
“I Lost my Turkey in Albuquerque.” Humorous story about having your Thanksgiving dinner fall out of a hole in the trunk of your car.
Q: How have you evolved as an artist?
Answer: I've been at it a while, so I've gone through several versions of my musical self, personal crises, etc. All of that is wrapped up in my music in some form. As far as tastes, styles, etc., what I listen to today is not necessarily what I listened to 10 or 20 years ago.
Because I'm playing at a variety of venues, I've integrated more diverse musical styles such as jazz into not just my songwriting but also my instrumental guitar music. But I'm still all over the place — folk, pop, jazz.
Also, partly because of spending 10 years or so in Nashville, I have elements of country, Americana and folk woven in. I would still describe myself as a contemporary or pop/folk artist.
Q: Who has influenced your art?
Answer: Because I've gone through a lot of changes and phases both in my life and music, there's quite a range of musical influences over the years. As I mentioned, who I listen to today is not who I listened to 20 years ago, though I certainly still appreciate the music of that day.
Here's a small sampling in no order whatsoever: James Taylor, Bruce Hornsby, Doobie Brothers, America, Eagles, Phil Keaggy, Beatles, Rich Mullins and hundreds of others throughout the 70's and 80's, as well as a bunch you've probably never heard of.
I've seen and heard so many great artists in Nashville and other places that you'll never hear on the radio, but from whom I have gleaned things from, whether it is in stage presentation, songwriting, guitar playing, connecting with the audience, etc.
Also, because of the internet and YouTube, we have so much exposure to a huge number of musicians of all flavors and this has greatly expanded my influences and musical horizons even lately. Quarantines have motivated a lot of artists of all flavors to post much more online.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
Answer: I'll answer this in general terms and leave the obvious COVID factor out of it. Obviously, the changes brought about because of that have greatly affected everyone, and I am no exception. But in general, taking the reigns of my career and realizing that I've got to be the CEO of “Bill Douglass Incorporated” to continue to take my career to the next level — not just supporting myself with my music, but getting more exposure and creating a wider range of opportunities.
In other words, doing all the business and marketing activities, as well as taking the quality of everything to a higher level. The tough, abnormal times we are in make it all exponentially more difficult, but at the same time, if it weren't for these challenges, I wouldn't have been pushed to do what I'm doing. Not to sound like a motivational book, but challenges are the springboard for new opportunities, new horizons, etc.
Put another way, sometimes if I'm not forced into doing something, I avoid doing it, even if I know it will help my future and career.
Q: What does art do for you?
Answer: My music brings me life. It is what I do when I have time to do what I want to do. It's what I do instead of doing other things I should be doing. I would do it even if it wasn't my job/living. I consider it a God-given thing that I am thankful to be able to do.
Fran Daniel writes about artists — visual, musical, literary and more — weekly in Relish. Send your story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 336-727-7366.