Aug. 31--If ever a performer made recording success look easy, it is a tall, lanky drink of water -- around 6-feet-1 and 180 pounds -- named Don Williams.
He was born only 50 miles from Lubbock, in Floydada, back in 1939, and grew up outside Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast, graduating in 1958 from Gregory-Portland High School.
He owns a 100-acre tract of farmland outside Nashville, near Ashland City, Tenn, and also visits his family's vacation home in Hawaii.
He was nominated several times as CMA (Country Music Association) Male Vocalist of the Year, and won once.
"I Believe in You" is his only song to jump aboard the pop charts, but Williams delivered at least one chart-topping country hit every year from 1974 to 1991 -- including "Good Ole Boys Like Me," "Till the Rivers All Run Dry," "It Must Be Love," "I'm Just a Country Boy" and "Amanda."
Only four of his 46 singles did not climb into the top 10.
Asked via Facebook to name their favorite Don Williams song, radio veteran Charles Chuck Luck responded, "Too many great songs to choose just one."
A friendly person, Williams has been described for decades as a man of few words. This is the first year that he ever has agreed to a requested A-J interview -- and even now, he prefers that questions be sent by email and keeps answers, as expected, brief.
He earned the right long ago to call his own shots.
He mentioned on his own website, "There are things I don't do. I don't do a whole lot of sitting around chit-chatting, laughing and carrying on. ... Even at home on the farm, there are literally days on end that I may not say anything but for an hour or two a day."
Williams married Joy Bucher on April 10, 1960; they have two sons.
Williams said he felt "overwhelmed" when inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
Williams will headline a concert at 7:30 p.m. today, Sept. 1, in Lubbock. Via email, he answered a few questions last week:
A-J: It has been written that you never liked talking about yourself, that you are shy to a point.
Williams: I have never really enjoyed doing interviews, talking about myself. When I started out, all I wanted to be was a songwriter. When nobody seemed to want to record my songs, Jack Clements suggested I record them myself, and he would work on getting them released.
A-J: You announced a Farewell Tour in 2006, and honored that, only to return to music in 2010. Can you speak to why you retired? Were you growing weary personally, or tired of directions being taken by country music? Does a career give you enough time with family, when fans also want a large piece of you?
Williams: In 2005, after being on the road for close to 40 years, I decided it was time for me to move over and let the up-and-coming stars carry the Country Music baton. I felt it was time to stay home, be with the family, spend time on the farm.
Over the next few years, both me and my management received so many letters, emails, etc., asking when would I make another record, or would I come out of retirement and do a couple more concerts, or one last tour, etc. I finally decided in 2010 to come out of retirement and do a few chosen dates, which has now turned into three years of chosen dates.
I am a very lucky artist, and very honored that I have great fans, very loyal fans, who appreciate my music and respect my need for privacy.
A-J: How did you spend your retirement years?
Williams: I spent them with my wife and family on the farm, as far away from music as one could get.
A-J: Do you perform fewer shows, if only to avoid burnout?
Williams: As long as my fans want to come out and share an evening with me, then I am happy and delighted to share my music with them.
A-J: About how long did you live with your family in Floydada before y'all moved to Portland on the Gulf Coast? Do you have any relatives in West Texas?
Williams: I spent a few years in Floydada, growing up. I do still have relatives in Texas.
A-J: I know your mother taught you to play guitar? What kind of guitar was your first? What model became your favorite, and do you play the same one most of the time?
Williams: My favorite guitar would be my Gibson L5, which has a great feel and a wonderful sound.
A-J: At what age did you become certain you wanted to chase a career in country music? Did you ever harbor a desire to do anything other than music for a living?
Williams: It was not until my mid-20s that I decided to seriously pursue a career in music.
A-J: Did you play any sports while growing up? Are there any teams you enjoy following?
Williams: I enjoyed watching sports. I was never one for participating. I like watching the Dallas Cowboys.
A-J: Were you always confident on stage, and as a lead singer? Is there anything you do to prepare before each show? Have you any superstitions?
Williams: I am, and always was, apprehensive before taking to the stage. I try to ensure that my band and I give the best performance we can every night, and that my fans feel they have been a part of my show. I hope they find something in my music that, for the time I am on stage, can take them to a better place, away from everyday toils.
A-J: It strikes me that you created a unique, individual music style that places heavy emphasis on recognition of your voice. Did you consciously place emphasis on simplicity and honesty, factors listeners could relate to?
Williams: I never really looked at my music in this way. I feel there is a story in all my songs that, hopefully, my fans can relate to. I come from an era of music where voices were distinct, as were the songs.
A-J: You enjoyed a terrific success rate with singles chosen for release. Can you speak a bit about the type of songs you feel most comfortable singing?
Williams: I enjoy songs with good melodies and lyrics that have some meaning. I have been blessed to record many songs down the years that some very talented songwriters have written. I am honored they allowed me to record their songs.
A-J: Will your Lubbock show be a Greatest Hits concert? Or will we hear any new tunes?
Williams: I always like to try and add a couple of newer songs to my show. However, by and large, my set contains most of my biggest hits, as that is what fans come out to hear.
A-J: You acted in "W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings" and played yourself in "Smokey and the Bandit II." How did you meet Burt Reynolds, and did you learn anything new about making movies?
Williams: "I met Burt while making one of the movies with him. He is a real fine gentleman. He helped me greatly with my acting in the movies, and was always generous with his advice. A real pleasure to work with."
A-J: With you being born in Floydada, many in this area find you overdue to be honored on the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock. Is that an honor that might one day bring you back to Lubbock?
Williams: I always love coming to Texas to perform. As long as my fans come to my concerts, I'd always be happy to return to Lubbock.
Follow William on Twitter
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