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Vince Gill - the next big thing?

By Jeffrey B. Remz, March 2003

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Gill wasn't sitting home staring at the ceiling waiting for his break.

"I was doing a lot of sessions (playing on other people's albums). I was making neat records that I liked."

Gill also remained resolved to his own career. "Where they would end up on the totem pole as far as how many they sold, that was not the deal breaker for me, that was I was never going to bag it. I was going to keep trying as long as they let me."

In 1989, Gill made a label change that also changed his career. He signed with MCA with Brown still there. His first album for the label, "Never Knew Lonely," was the one that broke him.

A duet with Patty Loveless, one of several they have recorded together, "When I Call Your Name," hit number two on the charts in 1990. The Country Music Association voted it single of the year. He also had a big hit with the title track.

But this almost didn't happen because Gill was asked by Mark Knopfler to join his British rootsy band Dire Straits in 1989 or 1990.

"I did (consider it) a little bit. I am just a major of fan of his. He's a major player. I had just recorded my first record for MCA, and I said man I can't do it. I've invested too many years into this country music thing. I said no, and when the album came out, (it) was a big hit."

Still Gill wonders what might have been. "I would love to have nights spending on stage playing with Mark," Gill says.

"Pocket Full of Gold" followed in 1991 with hits "Liza Jane," "Look At Us" and the title track."

But the best for Gill was yet to come with "I Still Believe In You." With this, Gill's career soared. He had four number one's with the title track, "Don't Let Our Love Start Slippin' Away," "One More Last Chance," and "Tryin' to Get Over You" and a top five with "No Future in the Past." He also hit the top with "The Heart Won't Lie," a duet with Reba McEntire with the song on McEntire's album.

Lots of awards followed with Grammys and CMAs including the coveted Entertainer of the Year in 1993 and 1994.

And the hits kept right on coming with "Whenever You Come Around," the bouncy "What the Cowgirls Do, "Which Bridge to Cross (Which Bridge to Turn)," "You Better Think Twice" and the title track from "When Love Finds You."

The disc also contained "Go Rest High On That Mountain," a tribute to his brother Bob, who died, and Keith Whitley. Gill was quite surprised how well the song did.

Gill says it "surprised me that it was a hit. It was interesting because it was not a huge hit. But it's probably had more of an impact that any song I've ever recorded. People playing it at services. It was kind of a real personal song for me and needed to be put on the record for personal reasons and see it unfold."

"It was (hard to write), but it's interesting because music has given me an outlet to...grieve and play the guitar and find a place to say things that I would never if it wasn't for music. That avenue (helped me) to get through some stuff."

Gill was more than a hit maker though. He was a fine singer with his sturdy tenor, and his guitar playing has always been considered top notch. A heavy touring schedule resulted from his success with concerts sometimes going on for three hours. He was not a paint-by-the-numbers kind of country performer.

While Gill scored some more hits with "High Lonesome Sound," he did not do as well with "The Key" or "Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye."

During this period, Gill's marriage ended in divorce, but he later married Grant.

Despite the changes about him in the music business where Tim and Faith now seem to be the leading lights in country, Gill remains content with his station in life.

Gill refers back to "Young Man's Town" to demonstrate his state of mind.

"I don't really that feel that 'Young Man's Town' is too much a commentary on the state of music as much as it is the evolution of the process. Nobody can sustain and be king of the hill the whole time. It's kind of like parenting. You've got to teach your children the things they need, and it should be all the way across the board. You should embrace and teach and pass down and not be bitter and whine. To me, it tells both sides of the story without being offensive to either, which is the goal. That story could be very easily be told from one perspective and sound bitter."

And Gill is certainly satisfied with "Next Big Thing."

"You kind of let it go," he says about his new album. "You did you work. You hope. I don't think it ever changes that you don't want people to respond to what you've done. It's a great feeling. You can't deny that. It's still the case. I want to sing along."

"Somebody told me a long time ago, don't worry about nothing you can't control. I'm going to do my job, and it's just going to fall where it falls. I don't like to lose sleep over much of anything."

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