He?s already established himself as one of country music?s most respected and successful performers, but These Days, Vince Gill?s adventurous new four-CD set of all-new material, marks an unprecedented move for a solo artist. With each disc focusing on a specific music style ? traditional country, ballads, uptempo contemporary country and acoustic/bluegrass ? the critically acclaimed These Days showcases Gill?s mastery as a musician, songwriter and co-producer to excellent effect. But as Gill explained to Goldmine, the whole concept ?really happened by accident, because I didn?t start my record with the intention of doing four stylistically different records. I just started recording songs and I wanted to experiment with all different kind of songs that I?d written to see what they turned into.?
After a few months of working on the material, Gill said he could ?see [the songs] kind of separating themselves out into different records...The record company liked the idea and encouraged me to keep going.? Gill?s original intent ? to release four discs separately over the course of a year ? was inspired by a Beatles poster he spotted at Nashville?s Blackbird Studios that listed the release dates of the group?s albums. In the end the box format was deemed more suitable ? its sheer length designed to encourage sustained listening, something Gill readily admits can be a problem for some of today?s listeners. ?I see people have much less attention span for music. It?s even hard to get somebody to listen to a whole record, he said. For his part, Gill sees his ambitious project as ?kind of me going against iPods, downloads, single songs, that kind of mentality. I want to... do something creatively that will really point towards people that love music. It wound up being a good idea.?
?I?ve always felt like a sponge, liked all kinds of things. I like playing the blues, I like playing bluegrass, I like so many different things. That gave me that freedom to experiment... I think the curiosity factor was really interesting right off the bat.? Added Gill with self-deprecating wit: ??He?s done what?? He?s recorded 43 songs! He?s lost his mind [laughs]. Nobody wants to listen to 11. God knows we don?t want to listen to 43!?"
The critical acclaim These Days has garnered has taken even Gill by surprise: ?I?ve always felt like I?ve been treated pretty well critically. Nothing like this (though), absolutely nothing like this,? he said. As for any apprehensions Gill may have felt over releasing such an ambitious project, well, he was willing to take the chance.
?I think the people that have invested in my career will be the ones that will embrace this the most,? he said. ?To me it was always pointed towards them from the get-go. And the record company came to the table without their greed in hand and were willing to get this box set for a list of $29, which is probably half of what most box sets sell for.?
Without deadlines, the recording sessions were characterized by a joyful camaraderie. ?Nobody was the boss, so to speak, [or] told everybody what to do. That?s the beauty of the gathering of great musicians together,? reflected Gill. ?They know how to play together, stay out of the way. I had the best time in the world!? It was in this relaxed, democratic atmosphere that encouraged a free exchange of ideas that the new songs evolved. ?I love the whole collaborating process,? noted Gill. ?I?ve always looked at music totally democratically ? every note is equal on a record, nobody?s more famous than somebody else.?
For Gill, keeping it real was a primordial goal. ?For me the greatest challenge was to make it authentic,? he said. ?If it was going to be country I wanted it to go as far into what really is country music to me, if it?s