A Conversation with Buddy Miller
Puremusic: They're running you pretty hard out there at the moment. How are you making out, and how is Julie?
Buddy Miller: Well, pretty good. I've lost my voice, I think I told you.
BM: I guess I got nodes on my vocal chords, so that's slowed me down a little bit.
PM: When you get those, you got to shut up for a good long time, don't you?
BM: Yeah. No talking, no singing for--well, it's supposed to be more than a month, but I did about a month. But I still kind of cheated and talked a little bit, so I still have to be careful now.
BM: I get back to work next week, I guess.
PM: And it's not a soft kind of singing that you get to do--I mean, it's a full-on kind of crooning, and it's very demanding.
BM: Yeah, I can't stop myself.
PM: Yeah. [laughs]
BM: I can't sing any different than what I do. How are you doing, Frank?
PM: I'm great. It's wonderful to be back in town. I was in China for a long time.
BM: Yeah, I heard.
PM: And that's interesting enough, but it's nowhere for guys like us to be. I need to be working on a song and doing the magazine and then doing the studio back here. And I'm just so happy to be back in town and among my friends.
BM: Cool, yeah.
PM: How is Julie doing? I haven't seen or heard tell.
BM: Okay, up and down. The health isn't that great, but we're working on it.
PM: Right. As your success and notoriety continues to grow, does it feel like there's a lesser or a greater weight on your shoulders?
BM: Oh, I can't really tell if anything is any different than it ever was, so I don't think about that too much. I mean, I can tell that there are people at gigs, which is really nice.
BM: That's always a surprise and great thing. But other than that, I'm just home working, or out on the road working, just playing.
PM: I've always loved that really inspired version that you do--and I've seen it live a couple of times--of "With God on Our Side." Has there yet been any comment from Bob or his camp on your reading of that classic song?
BM: Oh, no. And I sure don't expect any comment. He has so many people recording his songs all the time, it's just one more person doing a song. I didn't expect to hear anything back.
PM: Right, on one level it's just another person's version of his song...but hey, it's a hell of a version, if I may say so. That's got to be a big song live.
BM: It's a long song live.
BM: I kind of have to take a breath and make sure I should do it each night I do it. I don't do it every night, because its pretty long, and not so pleasant--but very meaningful, I think.
PM: Yeah, it's not a light-hearted experience, but it's a soul journey. Now, the McCrary sisters, they're on the tour, right?
BM: We've been doing select dates together.
PM: That's got to be a real experience live.
BM: Oh, it's a real experience just hanging around them, whether they're singing or not. It's great.
PM: How old are they? What kind of people are they?
BM: How what?
PM: How old are they--are they thirty-something, twenty-something?
BM: I think maybe a little bit older than that, but I don't ask.
BM: It's something I've learned not do. But I know that Regina, for instance, was singing in Dylan's band in the early 1980s, I guess in that Slow Train, Saved, and Shot of Love time. She would actually open the evening. She'd tell a story and then go into a set with the other singers, but she would lead it in doing a half a dozen songs.
PM: Wow. Must be there's been some good stories about that tour.
BM: I'm sure she's got them, yeah. She's a real interesting person. Had quite a life, and an amazing singer, both she and Ann--and her sisters. I mean, and they've got other sisters and siblings, and the entire family sings.
PM: Lord. They certainly bring a lot to the table. You can hear it in every note.
BM: Yeah, it was a great experience for me.
PM: At this part of the game, you're such a busy guy, is there any part of the process--writing, playing, singing, recording, producing--that has emerged as your favorite aspect of the life?
BM: I guess I like the performing part best. I like going out and playing.
BM: At least that's what I say now that I'm home.
BM: When I'm out playing, I think I miss being home and the studio part. But I mean, I love it all. It's just that you miss what you're not doing, I guess.
PM: Working as hard as life demands you to do, do you have any routines, or practices of any kind, that you do to try and stay sane or centered?
BM: No, I should. I don't. I just drink a lot of coffee.
PM: Yeah. [laughs] You know, I had this interview kind of a conversation with Big Al Anderson yesterday.
BM: Oh, you did? I love Al. Can you hold for a second? A guy working on my house is calling me.
PM: Absolutely. continue