By: Andrew Vaughan
I recently asked Hal about his resurgence.
Andrew: How important are the great reviews of Father Time to you, or have you learned to not read your own press over the years?
Hal: I find great reviews to be very encouraging.
Andrew: You always seemed to me to be a natural heir to writers like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, but in fact you seem to have matched those great writers as well as being accepted in the Nashville establishment, which they never really were. Was that a conscious plan, to retain that Texas street credibility as well as embrace Nashville?
Hal: A good songwriter is like an old scout, just looking for the next waterhole.
Andrew: Have you been secretly praying for another hit song to match "Small Town Saturday Night" or "Past the Point of Rescue," or do you not classify your work in terms of radio and video popularity?
Hal: Having a hit record is like catching lightning in a jar. I’ve still got my jar.
Andrew: "The Preacher and Me" was the first song you ever wrote. Why record it for this album?
Hal: I was working in the yard and it just kind of came to me. I’ve always liked it.
Andrew: Ten years ago you thought you might never play the guitar again. What happened?
Hal: I was then diagnosed with MS, but have since recovered and am playing better than ever, so I’m told.
Andrew: You told me once that you were a loner at heart and liked to wander off. Has that changed now that you are a family man?
Hal: Yes, I can’t imagine life without Gina and our girls.
Andrew: Is this album your seminal work?
Andrew: Will there be a quick follow up. i.e., are the creative juices flowing swiftly?
Hal: I write every day -- some days chicken, some days a mouth full of feathers.
Andrew: Summer is coming, time for a few hours by the pool. What do you have on your iPod?
Hal: Van Morrison, Steely Dan, Bruce Cockburn, Maura O’Connell.
Andrew: Have you embraced all the changes in the record business, from consolidation to downloads and digital delivery, or would you prefer to be doing things the old way and going down to Tower Records on Saturday afternoons like we all used to?
Hal: I’m afraid the ritual is over. The upside is that I had some people come to see me at the Opry who had heard me in Sri Lanka.
Andrew: Do you have any upcoming fine art projects we might like to know about?
Hal: I just paint till something appears.
Andrew: Your writing style is very filmic (if that is a word), cinematic perhaps. Have you dabbled with fiction, screenplays perhaps?
Hal: I am currently writing a book of short stories. It’s a fascinating process. I’ve also started a screenplay on the life of Blackjack Ketchum.
Andrew: And if you are a movie fan, what is the last truly powerful and significant movie you have seen at the theater?
Hal: I dug Benjamin Button. I love that such an effort was derived from a short story.
Andrew Vaughan is a well-known and respected Nashville based writer. As a music critic his work has appeared in Billboard, Music Week, Mojo, "Q", the London Times, the Guardian, and Folk Roots. He was the founding director of Country Music International magazine and a regular guest on BBC Radio, BBC TV, and VH1.
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