Up Close and Personal with the Legendary Billy Crain


Billy Crain has been a music legend since the 1970s. Playing alongside artists such as The Allman Brothers,  ZZ Top, The Rolling Stones and more, he has become a prominent musical force over the past few decades. Currently gearing up to release a solo record of his own later this month, Crain has been taking over the music charts with a string of singles over the past few weeks. His glorious guitar playing and stellar songwriting goes above and beyond; keeping him ahead of the rest. We had the honor of speaking with the living legend here at No Depression. Let's dive in, shall we?


What is the inspiration behind your upcoming record, and what can we expect from the new release you have been working on?

As always it is God inspired. He gives me a subject and I run with it. The cool thing I get to do is use the music to make life better for other people. Each CD, I pick a certain place to contribute money to, and 100% of the proceeds of that CD go to charity. My last CD went to the Papillion Center for FASD and the new CD will go to an orphanage that I support in Honduras. I'm all about the kids. My wife and I have been foster parents and ended up adopting two of them. They call them children from Hard Places and that they are. Our two came from the saddest of situations but there is a happy ending because God chose us to take care of them! The name of the new CD is 'Broken Things.' We are all broken in some shape or form but the good news is God loves us despite our brokenness.


You are already a great part of musical history, playing in some of the biggest acts in music. How does playing in the bands differ from playing and writing your solo material?

There is ease and comfort in playing with a band. With the Outlaws, I always felt safe and secure because all the details were taken care of. When I went solo, it was me, myself, and I, and no one else. It leaves you feeling very vulnerable sometimes. On the good side, I don't have to go through the process of arguing over which songs should and shouldn't be on the CD. The only bickering that goes on is inside my head. With bands you usually have to stick to the formula or brand that the band is known for. On my own, I can really branch out and try to move forward with each CD. There is no this is what worked last time so let's stick with that formula again. Besides, I give all the money away so what me worry?


What places in your mind do you channel to craft your songs?

Deep thinking places. Henry Paul (of the Outlaws) always called me the rock and roll social commentator. I like to step back and look at things and mull them over and see if there is an odd way to look at it. Sometimes it's a peaceful place up there and sometimes its pure anarchy!! My mind is a dangerous place to end up in. Actually, I've really changed over the years. I spent so many years as a staff songwriter trying to write what other people would want to hear on the radio. As an artist, I can actually record what I would LIKE to hear on the radio. It makes writing a lot more personal and fun.

What are your favorite venues to perform at? and if you had to choose, do you feel more comfortable in the studio or onstage, and why?

I love the smaller theaters AND the indoor arenas. Something about the enthusiasm of those venues really fire me up. It just depended on the situation. I am most comfortable in my studio by myself working on writing and recording. I spent so many years producing and playing with these top session players and producers and it was very intimidating to me. That was hard because your great performing musicians don't always make good studio musicians and your great studio musicians can make lousy performing musicians. For years I was so damn competitive onstage AND very self critical. I would beat myself up after every show. Finally, we were opening a show in the old Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas for The Allman Brothers Band and Dicky Betts grabbed me after the show and said 'Man, you sounded great tonight! Of course I mumbled back something stupid like I didn't have a very good night. He sat me down and looked me in the eye and said "Billy, 99% of those people out there wouldn;t notice if you hit  a bad note or not. COMPLETELY changed the way I look at things. The hardest thing is I am a feel performer. It's all about the right sound and mood. If it's not right then I'm not right. I probably feel more comfortable onstage because that's why I became a musician in the first place.

How do you write your songs? What is the process like? Does it take you days, weeks, even longer? How does the perfect Billy Crain piece come together?

I use to have a set formula. I had to have a title, music, and melody and then write the lyrics. There is nothing more frustrating than writing a song with somebody and you have all the parts EXCEPT the title. I've changed it up over the years. I don't co-write much anymore (except for my wife.) The final straw was on Jan 13, 2011. I was down on music row writing with an L.A. lyricist on a song called "Snow Globe" I got a call from my wife and he had to tell me my brother (Tommy Crain of the famed Charlie Daniels Band) had died early that morning. I walked away from there thinking I'm done writing meaningless songs. Now I keep a list of titles on my phone or on a lyric pad. Sometimes I'll have some music in my head and I will pull out one of those titles. I write a lot of poetry and use them for lyrics. I always have bits and pieces of words or music. Sometimes I write to certain grooves. Lots of times I write while driving in my car and record it on my iPhone. I'm pretty mush writing all the time. Sometimes the songs come very rapid fire but usually I will sit on them for a bit and then pull them out and think I can do this better, this line doesn't work.) Sometimes I'm finishing them up as I'm singing them. When I was a staff songwriter, there were times when we would spend 3 to 4 days on a lyric. Not anymore!! The perfect piece comes together after the song is written and recorded. That's when the magic happens. I love working by myself because I get to change and try different ideas. You can't do that with a live band. You are stuck with what you have on tape (old school).Sometimes the song turns out completely different from what I originally heard in my head.

How did you create a sound throughout time that is so uniquely your own? In your opinion, what defines your sound?

I really only had a guitar style for years and years. A good southern rock fan could instantly know it was me by the guitar tone and style. When I started making solo records, I had to find myself as a singer and a writer. I can sing a Billy Crain song because I know what my limitations are. I can write a Billy Crain song cause I know what's in my head. The defining thing about me that most people notice is the tone of both my vocals and guitars. I love to write about controversial things. I love to speak out for the children and I really don't care if my lyrics offend you or not and I WILL talk about Jesus but I'm NOT a christian artist. I like taking my messages to the secular world.

This year has already been a huge year for you. What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the year?

I hope to have "Broken Things" finished and on the market. Last October I came out with "Hard Places" and had no idea of the impact of that record. It spawned to hit singles. The first single "Cold Feet" made it to #38 on the Top 200 AC Charts. It slowly fell down the charts to #108 and then made a huge comeback. The last time I checked it was at #59 and 3 weeks away from charting for a year solid. My present single is "Hard Places"
sitting at #13 right now. If you had told me a year ago that I would accomplish this I would have told you you were crazy!!! When I left the Outlaws in 2013, I thought my career was over but God had a totally different idea.  Look out 2018, here I come!!!!


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Billy Crain is one of the most intriguing and eclectic artists off our modern times. The singer-songwriter pens classic Rock n’ Roll songs, with a dash of blues on the side. Throughout the years Crain has played with the greats from The Rolling Stones to ZZ Top to most notably, The Allman Brothers. His twangy-style and intriguing vocals make us want to hear more from the artist. And this Fall we will have the pleasure. Gearing up to release his new record, “Broken Things,”later this month, Crain is already on our Year End list for Top Releases. His Southern style blends with the Nashville sound that enlightens and delightens with every listen. Open your ears to one of his acclaimed singles making waves on the charts, “Cold Feet.”

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November 11/03/17, 2017
Billy Crain Comes Alive

One of the most formative artists in the past few decades, Billy Crain takes his musicianship to a whole new level. The Nashville native has been garnering waves with a few new pieces from his latest endeavor due out later this month. Throughout his lengthy career he has played with the likes of The Allman Brothers and the Stones, to newer artists such as the Dixie Chicks. Taking on his solo work, we have the pleasure of chatting with Crain about his music and upcoming release, here at Ethnocloud.


When you are writing music, what comes first, the music or the lyrics?


It used to ALWAYS be music, melody, title, then lyrics but I have changed it up over the years. I keep a constantly flowing list of titles (nothing harder than trying to write a song with no title!) I also write poetry and bits of lyrics and store melodies and chord changes on my iPhone. I rarely just sit down and write a song anymore. I just look at my pile of ideas and put something together.
There really is no set formula that you have to use to write a song...

What is the inspiration and aspirations behind the latest single releases?


The first single was called "Cold Feet" and it was about all the times I wanted to go out there and grab my wife hard at work in the garden and move it to hard at work in the bedroom!!! I have a very beautiful wife and man she can turn me on. I will tell you a funny story. When it went Top 40, the preacher at my church made a really big deal about it after the Sunday service. A few months later we were in Honduras together. I was noodling on an acoustic guitar and started singing "Cold Feet" Father Ray got this horrified look on his face and said '93Billy, you should have TOLD me that that song was about wanting to get lucky with your wife, and I said 'well you should've listened to the song first before plugging it. At least it was about my wife!!!' "Hard Places" is about our two adopted children. We were foster parents and ended up adopting them. One of their families blew up the garage making methamphetamine and the other little one was born addicted to heroin. They call them children from Hard Places. The song is about how the world looks to them through their eyes. 100% of the proceeds from this CD have gone to funding the Papillion Center for FASD.


What is the meaning behind the title of the tracks and what does it signify?

Well we KNOW what Cold Feet is about and Hard Places is about children born into this world through difficult birth, adoption, abuse, Fetal Alcohol Spectral disorder, Neo Natal Abstinance Syndrome, etc. These kids come with a myriad of problems. They may look normal and act normal but they have so much confusion inside. John Q Public doesn't always get to see what my wife and I see. These kids from Hard Places need to be loved and helped. It's just heart breaking what they and the families have to go through...

What is the ultimate inspiration when penning the tracks, especially on the new record?

God, of course for me. I ask for HIS guidance and I usually get it!! I like true life stuff. I spent 20 years as a staff songwriter on Music Row and I got so tired of writing what I THOUGHT everyone else wanted to hear on the radio. How many times can you rhyme with the word 'love'? Now I get to write what I would like to hear on the radio. Also each new CD has a concept and that concept is usually about helping some part of mankind. We give away the proceeds each record. Do I make any money? No, but I sure have a good time giving it away!!!


Do you produce and record your own records, or do you head into the studio?

I have a studio here at the house. I record, write, and produce all my CD's. I'm NOT the best guy at  telling other musicians what I hear in my head. I DO know how to get it on CD so I'm a lone wolf when it comes to my projects. 


We hear you have a new record in the works! What can you tell us about the theme of the upcoming piece, if you can spill any details of course.

Sure I can!! It "Broken Things," and 100% of the proceeds are going to an orphanage that we help support in Honduras. We are all from the Island of Misfit Toys (Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer,) but God doesn't see us that way. I have learned that you don't have to have big houses and shiny new cars to be happy. I still dress like I did in high school (jeans, jean shirts, and boots.) I drive a 2006 Cadillac that I love and I'm about as broken as they come and God STILL loves me. I wrote it with my wife, Sandy, by the way. There's a song called "Shark Heart" which is about sexual predators on the internet. "Under the Rainbow" is about a midwestern girl that goes to Broadway to pursue her dreams. Orphan is about exactly that including myself as in 2013, both my parents died within a month of each other. There's a lot of good stuff on there and of course there are plenty of guitars!!!!

What are your key musical goals for the end of the year?

Man Jeremy, I've already hit them. I have a song "Hard Places" sitting at #13 on the Top 200 AC Charts right now. "Cold Feet" made it to #38 starting falling off the charts and slowly dropped to #109 and THEN miraculously revived itself and is now at #55 and will have charted for a year straight in 2 weeks!!! Right now my goal is to get Broken Things mixed and mastered and that's about all that.

Rock N' Roll's Golden Child Billy Crain Sets For New Release

Are you ready?

Posted on November 3, 2017, at 4:53 p.m.

Billy Crane is no one trick pony. He is a proven artist that bends boundaries of rock and roll and bluesey guitar sounds. With an impressive resume, the music world has seen him playing with some of the greats for the past 40 plus years; but Crane is in a class all of his own. His soul writing and blissful guitar playing create sonic imagery that entices with every listen. He is been no stranger to the Billboard Charts recently, with the single "Cold Feet," taking the reigns. His groundbreaking new record "Broken Things," will be released later this fall. With everything and anything as fair game he brings to the world his own special brand of Rock and Roll....Billy Crain style.

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Billy Crain is His Own Legend on His Upcoming Release

With a bit of Southern rock charm musician Billy Crain knows just the artistry of the rock genre. The artist who is set to release his newest record “Broken Things,” later this fall brings a tasty batch of singles that have been climbing up the Billboard Hot AC charts. The legendary status has seen him playing with some of the great such as the Allman Brothers and the Rolling Stones as early as the 1970s. His music often brings a message that goes deeper than your average modern day artist. Keeping himself current with the times as always, his knack for writing insightful pieces takes his artistry to a level that goes above and beyond to speak to his audiences. With a new release already in tow for later this fall we here crane creating a musical masterpiece.

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This article was originally written in English. View in: 
Posted in Kurrent Music on November 3, 2017

Billy Crain does it again all while climbing the Billboard charts. The legendary musician has been going above and beyond with a successful batch of single releases. Enter the enticing piece "Cold Feet" that has been opening the ears of music listeners alike. Taken from the upcoming release "Broken Things," Billy Crain writes another one for the books. The album will grace our presence later this year.


Billy Crain Hot Links

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Jerome Promotions

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Slidebilly Records


The Papillion Center For FASD

David Adams Wealth Group