Bill started writing songs when he was about 30 and was inspired by the songwriting traditions of folk, country, and the musical theater. Along with his early fascination with the concept of the singing cowboy, his love of music and songwriting was fueled by the work of a wide and diverse range of songwriters including Gene Autry, Chuck Berry, Boudeleaux and Felice Bryant, A.P. Carter, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, Steve Goodman, Woody Guthrie, Bob McDill, Johnny Mercer, Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Mickey Newbury, Buck Owens, Utah Phillips, John Prine, Malvina Reynolds, Pete Seeger, Paul Simon, Ernest Tubb, Loudon Wainwright III, and Cindy Walker.
Bill’s songs aim to touch the listener with humor and heart, spirit and inspiration. He was attracted to singable melodies that are memorable in their simplicity. His goal as a songwriter was to be open and receptive to the world that he lives in and to pursue songwriting as a spiritual practice.
Welcome to Gessnerville was Bill’s first full-length recording, and is produced by Peter Ostroushko, who also plays mandolin and fiddle on a number of the songs. The all-star cast of musicians also includes Chris Rosser, Dan Newton, Rich Dworsky, Diane Tremaine, Kevin Barnes, Prudence Johnson (harmony vocals), and Bob Douglas (harmony vocals).
Have you ever heard anyone say, “I like that town, and I can’t wait to go back!”? Well that’s Gessnerville. I just hope that it keeps growing. Behind every song is a door into another home in town, with another interesting situation. You can sing a Gessnerville song, and you can visit, but you could not create another place like it, and you’d be crazy to try. Think about another cartoonist copying Snoopy or Charlie Brown, or another author rhyming like “The Cat In The Hat.” Some things can’t be copied. That is true uniqueness. A singer can copy Woody Guthrie, or steal a lick from Louis Armstrong, or Jelly Roll Morton, or Leadbelly, or Bob Dylan, but no one can copy Bill Gessner. Not possible! So I’m for letting Bill do his thing. Sometimes I wonder what “his thing” is, and maybe he does too, but I know that I can’t wait to go back to Gessnerville and really relax. —– Charlie Maguire, www.charliemaguire.com