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Whisperin' Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music

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Whisperin' Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music presents a revealing portrait of Bill Anderson, one of the most prolific songwriters in the history of country music. Mega country music hits like "City Lights," (Ray Price), "Tips Of My Fingers," (Roy Clark, Eddy Arnold, Steve Wariner), "Once A Day," (Connie Smith), "Saginaw, Michigan," (Lefty Frizzell), and Whisperin' Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music presents a revealing portrait of Bill Anderson, one of the most prolific songwriters in the history of country music. Mega country music hits like "City Lights," (Ray Price), "Tips Of My Fingers," (Roy Clark, Eddy Arnold, Steve Wariner), "Once A Day," (Connie Smith), "Saginaw, Michigan," (Lefty Frizzell), and many more flowed from his pen, making him one of the most decorated songwriters in music history. But the iconic singer, songwriter, performer, and TV host came to a point in his career where he questioned if what he had to say mattered anymore. Music Row had changed, a new generation of artists and songwriters had transformed the genre, and the Country Music Hall of Fame member and fifty-year Grand Ole Opry star was no longer relevant. By 1990, he wasn't writing anymore. Bad investments left him teetering at bankruptcy's edge. His marriage was falling apart. And in Nashville, a music town where youth often carries the day, he was a museum piece--only seen as a nostalgia act, waving from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Anderson was only in his fifties when he assumed he had climbed all the mountains he was intended to scale. But in those moments plagued with self-doubt, little did he know, his most rewarding climb lie ahead. A follow-up to his 1989 autobiography, this honest and revealing book tells the story of a man with an unprecedented gift, holding on to it in order to share it. Known as "Whisperin' Bill" to generations of fans for his soft vocalizations and spoken lyrics, Anderson is the only songwriter in country music history to have a song on the charts in each of the past seven consecutive decades. He has celebrated chart-topping success as a recording artist with eighty charting singles and thirty-seven Top Ten country hits, including "Still," "8 x 10", "I Love You Drops," and "Mama Sang A Song." A six-time Song of the Year Award-winner and BMI Icon Award recipient, Anderson has taken home many CMA and ACM Award trophies and garnered multiple GRAMMY nominations. His knack for the spoken word has also made him a successful television host, having starred on "The Bill Anderson Show," "Opry Backstage," "Country's Family Reunion," and others. Moreover, his multi-faceted success extends far beyond the country format with artists like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Dean Martin, and Elvis Costello recording his songs. Today, thanks to the support of musical peers and a few famous friends who believed in him, Anderson continues to forge the path of lyrical integrity in music, harnessing his ability to craft a song that tells a familiar story, grabs you by the heart and moves you. Modern day examples include "Whiskey Lullaby" (Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss), "Give It Away" (George Strait), "A Lot of Things Different" (Kenny Chesney), and "Which Bridge to Cross" (Vince Gill). A product of a long-gone Nashville, Anderson worked to reinvent himself, and this biography documents Anderson's fifty-plus-year career--a career he once thought unattainable. Richly illustrated with black-and-white photos of Anderson interacting with the superstars of American music, including such legends as Patsy Cline, Vince Gill, and Steve Wariner, this book highlights Anderson's trajectory in the business and his influence on the past, present, and future of this dynamic genre.


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Whisperin' Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music presents a revealing portrait of Bill Anderson, one of the most prolific songwriters in the history of country music. Mega country music hits like "City Lights," (Ray Price), "Tips Of My Fingers," (Roy Clark, Eddy Arnold, Steve Wariner), "Once A Day," (Connie Smith), "Saginaw, Michigan," (Lefty Frizzell), and Whisperin' Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music presents a revealing portrait of Bill Anderson, one of the most prolific songwriters in the history of country music. Mega country music hits like "City Lights," (Ray Price), "Tips Of My Fingers," (Roy Clark, Eddy Arnold, Steve Wariner), "Once A Day," (Connie Smith), "Saginaw, Michigan," (Lefty Frizzell), and many more flowed from his pen, making him one of the most decorated songwriters in music history. But the iconic singer, songwriter, performer, and TV host came to a point in his career where he questioned if what he had to say mattered anymore. Music Row had changed, a new generation of artists and songwriters had transformed the genre, and the Country Music Hall of Fame member and fifty-year Grand Ole Opry star was no longer relevant. By 1990, he wasn't writing anymore. Bad investments left him teetering at bankruptcy's edge. His marriage was falling apart. And in Nashville, a music town where youth often carries the day, he was a museum piece--only seen as a nostalgia act, waving from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Anderson was only in his fifties when he assumed he had climbed all the mountains he was intended to scale. But in those moments plagued with self-doubt, little did he know, his most rewarding climb lie ahead. A follow-up to his 1989 autobiography, this honest and revealing book tells the story of a man with an unprecedented gift, holding on to it in order to share it. Known as "Whisperin' Bill" to generations of fans for his soft vocalizations and spoken lyrics, Anderson is the only songwriter in country music history to have a song on the charts in each of the past seven consecutive decades. He has celebrated chart-topping success as a recording artist with eighty charting singles and thirty-seven Top Ten country hits, including "Still," "8 x 10", "I Love You Drops," and "Mama Sang A Song." A six-time Song of the Year Award-winner and BMI Icon Award recipient, Anderson has taken home many CMA and ACM Award trophies and garnered multiple GRAMMY nominations. His knack for the spoken word has also made him a successful television host, having starred on "The Bill Anderson Show," "Opry Backstage," "Country's Family Reunion," and others. Moreover, his multi-faceted success extends far beyond the country format with artists like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Dean Martin, and Elvis Costello recording his songs. Today, thanks to the support of musical peers and a few famous friends who believed in him, Anderson continues to forge the path of lyrical integrity in music, harnessing his ability to craft a song that tells a familiar story, grabs you by the heart and moves you. Modern day examples include "Whiskey Lullaby" (Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss), "Give It Away" (George Strait), "A Lot of Things Different" (Kenny Chesney), and "Which Bridge to Cross" (Vince Gill). A product of a long-gone Nashville, Anderson worked to reinvent himself, and this biography documents Anderson's fifty-plus-year career--a career he once thought unattainable. Richly illustrated with black-and-white photos of Anderson interacting with the superstars of American music, including such legends as Patsy Cline, Vince Gill, and Steve Wariner, this book highlights Anderson's trajectory in the business and his influence on the past, present, and future of this dynamic genre.

30 review for Whisperin' Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    I won a copy of this book. I'll admit that I didn't know who Whisperin' Bill Anderson was when I got this book, so I was starting with a clean slate when opening this book. What I found in the pages was a man who has lived a very awesome life. Anderson has written songs for over half a century for himself and many others in the music industry. If you're a fan of Whisperin' Bill, get this book. I won a copy of this book. I'll admit that I didn't know who Whisperin' Bill Anderson was when I got this book, so I was starting with a clean slate when opening this book. What I found in the pages was a man who has lived a very awesome life. Anderson has written songs for over half a century for himself and many others in the music industry. If you're a fan of Whisperin' Bill, get this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    I love this book! Bill does a great job in chronicling his life to date. What a life he has had! Love his music & love him, too.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Les

    I must admit I am not the biggest Bill Anderson fan. However, this is a very good book filled with well told stories of Country Music and Bill Anderson history. Give it a read, you won’t be sorry!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Molly Jeanne

    Whisperin’ Bill Anderson is a singer, songwriter, and storyteller known for hit songs such as “Still,” “Po’ Folks,” and “Mama Sang a Song.” But it wasn’t always like that. Bill was born James William Anderson III on November 1st, 1937, into a family of four. As much as he loved country music, he adored baseball and wanted to play for the Cubs when he grew up. His only ventures into the music business were playing his father’s guitar, writing the occasional song or two, and joining a country-west Whisperin’ Bill Anderson is a singer, songwriter, and storyteller known for hit songs such as “Still,” “Po’ Folks,” and “Mama Sang a Song.” But it wasn’t always like that. Bill was born James William Anderson III on November 1st, 1937, into a family of four. As much as he loved country music, he adored baseball and wanted to play for the Cubs when he grew up. His only ventures into the music business were playing his father’s guitar, writing the occasional song or two, and joining a country-western band for his high school’s talent show. But as he wrote in his new memoir, Whisperin’ Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music, “…A funny thing happened on the way to Wrigley Field.” And the country music world is all the better for it. After joining another talent show band in college, Bill decided to become a disc jockey for WGAU, but was prohibited from playing country music. As the styles of rock-and-roll (the music Bill was allowed to play) and country began to merge, Bill was sometimes accused of playing country music in the station. Each time he was accused, as he says in the memoir, “I’d calmly get out Billboard magazine, show [H. Randolph Holder, Bill’s boss at the station] where the song I was playing was ranked among the Top 100 pop records in the country, and he’d leave me alone.” Finally, after switching on the Louisiana Hayride after a baseball game was rained out, Bill was transferred to a new radio station in Commerce, Georgia, where he could, as Mr. Holder told him, “play country music…to your heart’s content.” And WJJC, the radio station in Commerce, was the perfect fit for Bill. He became a hit radio personality, playing country music from 1:00 to 3:30 and rock and roll for the rest of his shift, when “the area high schools began to let out and…the kids had had time to get to their cars and head out of the parking lot.” He introduced a sidekick – a talking duck named Josh Waddlesforth McDuck, who sometimes got more fan mail than Bill. And one night – August 27, 1957, on the roof of the nearby Hotel Andrew Jackson, Bill Anderson wrote “City Lights,” which was, as he said, his “magic carpet to Nashville.” “City Lights” was covered by a man named Ray Price, and it became a huge hit on country radio, and once Bill moved north to Nashville, he wrote even more songs, like “The Tips of My Fingers” and “Po’ Folks,” the latter being the song that brought him to the Grand Ole Opry and got him the invitation to join its cast. He became a superstar in the world of country music, touring the world and partnering up with fellow country singer Jan Howard. He discovered Connie Smith while judging a contest at “a country music park called Frontier Ranch” and wrote “Once a Day” for her, which became one of her biggest hits. He even worked as a host on game shows like The Better Sex and Fandango. But then things took a turn. His wife, Becky, was almost killed “after being run into by a drunk eighteen-year-old.” His daughter was discovered to have a malignant tumor only a few months later. His PoFolks restaurant chain filed for bankruptcy, and he lost a lot of money. And his record label, the one where Bill had worked for 23 years, dropped him once his contract expired. For a while, he decided to quit songwriting, and the only hits he got were covers of songs he had written in the sixties and seventies. And then his hairstylist, Cheryl Riddle, introduced him to Vince Gill. Together, they wrote two songs – “Cold, Gray Light of Gone,” which “didn’t come off as well as [Vince] had hoped,” and “Which Bridge to Cross (Which Bridge to Burn),” which became a chart-topper for Vince and brought Bill back into songwriting. He wrote “Too Country” for Brad Paisley, “Whiskey Lullaby” for Brad and Alison Krauss, and many others – including his most recent, “Country” for Mo Pitney, which gave him the honor of having written “songs that have charted in seven consecutive decades,” an honor bestowed upon no other songwriter in history. And in an excellent memoir, Bill wrote about everything that got him to that point without sounding egotistical or boastful, while still portraying the importance of Bill’s achievements. Having met Bill myself on two occasions, I can undoubtedly state that the memoir shows Bill as he truly is – kind, inspiring, and very funny. This book is a must-read – and what else would you expect from such an amazing storyteller?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    “Whisperin Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music” is the story of the Country Music legend Bill Anderson by Bill Anderson. It’s his autobiography. Actually this book is an update upon his autobiography written some years ago. Not so unusual for an autobiography, it starts with his parents, their families, and his arrival and progressing chronologically through his life. Covering early musical interests, early jobs, and how he progressed from play songs (as a radio DJ) to writing a “Whisperin Bill Anderson: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music” is the story of the Country Music legend Bill Anderson by Bill Anderson. It’s his autobiography. Actually this book is an update upon his autobiography written some years ago. Not so unusual for an autobiography, it starts with his parents, their families, and his arrival and progressing chronologically through his life. Covering early musical interests, early jobs, and how he progressed from play songs (as a radio DJ) to writing and performing. In so doing becoming a prolific songwriter and beloved performer over the past six decades. It provides insight into his craft and the life of a performer through his personal experiences. I’m not a big country music fan, but thoroughly enjoyed Bill Anderson’s memoir and gladly recommend it NOTE: I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Doreen Miller

    This was a wonderful autobiography about the country music and the ups and downs for a songwriter. I loved the humor and journey Bill Anderson takes the reader on. You can almost imagine Bill telling you his story sitting right next to you as you read through the pages. A must read for anyone who enjoys country music on any level!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lm Espey-Francis

    I enjoyed it thoroughly. He has a light, humorous touch and is not over impressed with himself. Forbes named it the best autobiography or best biography of 2016 and I agree with both but haven't read all the others, of course. I enjoyed it thoroughly. He has a light, humorous touch and is not over impressed with himself. Forbes named it the best autobiography or best biography of 2016 and I agree with both but haven't read all the others, of course.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lane

    A very entertaining biography by one of country music's longest lasting creative artist. Very well written and organized. For someone living in Athens, it is an interesting view of the old days here. A very entertaining biography by one of country music's longest lasting creative artist. Very well written and organized. For someone living in Athens, it is an interesting view of the old days here.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katrina

    With the recent PBS series country music reading about Bill Anderson‘s life and career have just added to the longevity and interest in country music. Also enjoy watching the family country reunion see is done and other programs that he spotlights country music singers and writers. If you’re a fan of country music this book is for you.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan Clingman

    LOVE. Audible version includes some of his songs.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charles Fortune

    Excellent and fascinating book. Many surprising details.

  12. 4 out of 5

    marty allen

  13. 5 out of 5

    Renee

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jon Berry

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chris Hill

  16. 5 out of 5

    Allie

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Jackson Jr.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Miles26

  19. 5 out of 5

    Donnab

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Parsons

  21. 4 out of 5

    Whille

  22. 4 out of 5

    Norman Wyatt

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steve Boyle

  24. 4 out of 5

    Georgiana Preston

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leanne Winchel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Don Mitchell

  28. 4 out of 5

    carol enos

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stan Bobbitt

  30. 4 out of 5

    Felton Wilkes

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