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Gail Davies

I interviewed Gail at The Hobo's Retreat country music club in Heywood in fairly difficult conditions.  The band were late arriving and were doing their sound checks throughout the interview, which unfortunately made it unbroadcastable for my radio show. Gail was apologetic throughout and did her best to get the band to keep the sound down as much as possible.

Ray Grundy
Gail Davies

  On recent visits you've had  Stu Page & Andy Whelan backing you, along with you're husband Rob Lowe on bass, but this time you've brought your own band over from the states! What's the reason for the change?
  Well, it's more my sound. The guy's know all of my songs, and if I decide I want to throw something weird in, they know it. Stu and Andy were wonderful and I'm sure we'll work together again. But this particular time, Chris Jackson, organiser of the Americana Festival asked me if I wanted  to bring my own band, and he offered to fly them over, so I decided to do it.
  You've brought you're son with you this time as a member of your band! Is this the first time he's been over here?
  No, he came with me to the Wembley Festival when he was two years old. That was in 1984, and he's been back probably 5 or 6 times since.
  When did you first decide you wanted to sing for a living?
My father was a country guitar player and singer, and I went on stage with him when I was three years old. My older brother is a real famous songwriter, he wrote "It Ain't Easy" for David Bowie. We were just raised in the business.
  You moved to Nashville in 1975, what was it like there then?
  Well, it was still traditional country then, but it was going kind of Vegasy country, with cabaret type country. Barbara Mandrell and people like that. And then I came along with a folk type of sound, "Grandma's Song" and things  like that. and I tried to revive the old great Webb Pierce and Carl Smith songs, so I was kind of a square peg in a round hole.
But I also produced albums as well, which was a first for women in country music, but now it's common place.
  That can't have been easy, a woman in a what was a man's world up to that point. You must have had some problems with that?
  Yes I did, I got a bad deal, and for many years I got a bad rap because of it.
  Besides being a wonderful singer, you're also a very fine songwriter. Which is most important to you, singing or songwriting?
  Well thank you! Singing is the most important to me. I only started writing songs because I couldn't find the kind of songs I wanted to sing. All my early writing was very personal. So it was out of necessity that I wrote. I always wanted to be primarily a singer.
  You've worked with the late great Roger Miller! You must have picked up a few tips on songwriting there?
  Yes! Actually I was going to talk about Roger on stage tonight. I wrote a song about him called "I'm Hungry, I'm Tired" . He told me a story about how when he was a little boy his father died and he went to live with his uncle on a ranch in Oklahoma, and of how he wanted to be a songwriter, but his uncle was trying to make him into a farmer. So that night I went home and I wrote the song, and the next day when I went over and played it for him, he cried. And that was when I knew I had become a serious songwriter.
  Another of your own compositions "Bucket To The South", a song that was a big hit for Ava Gardner, was that song autobiographical?
  Yes! it was totally about myself. And when Ava wanted to record it, the producer came to me and said, Ava's from Tennessee and she'd like like to change Oklahoma to Tennessee in the song, do you mind, and I said no that's fine. But then later he came back and said, she would like to change the names in the song from your relatives to hers, and I said, no that's going too far. It's one thing to change Oklahoma to Tennessee, but not the names as well.

She had a big hit with that song, It was my first top 10 record. And it's really funny, that was the only song I had asked them not to pitch, because it was such a personal song, and it was the only one that got a cut.

  How does it feel when someone else has a hit with one of your songs.
  It depends how well they record it, sometimes they do a dreadful job, and then it's kinda sad. I was really happy with a song that The Whites did called "Hometown Gossip", Sharon White did a wonderful job of that. Jan Brown sang a song I wrote called "Tell Me Why" which I was also very very pleased with.
  My favourite Gail davies song is "Not A Day Goes By" . Can you tell us about that song?
  It was a song that I wrote at a moment when I was still feeling sad about the break-up with my son's father. Later on though during the court battles, he got really ugly, so the song changed as far as I was concerned. Many day's go by that I don't think of him at all. (Laughs)
But it seems to be a song that many people in the UK identify with.
  In the 1980s you formed a  Country-Rock band "Wild Choir" . That was quite a change in direction!
  Yes! that was kind of inspired by the Wembley Festival. I came over here and I heard British country bands who were just rockin' out, and I went back to the states and I said , Boy! I would really like to have a country rock type band that was from here in Nashville. And so I formed "Wild Choir".
  Round about that same time you recorded the song "Jagged Edge Of A Broken Heart" , a very popular song in this country. Where did that song come from?
  It was written by two guy's who played in the band Walker Eidelheart who played piano and Mike Joyce who was the bass player. They brought the song to me on the bus, and I said Yeah, it's a great song, I'll cut it
  You have a new album out at the moment! Do you want to tell us about that?
  It's called "Love Ain't Easy" and it's a Bluegrassy/ Jazz kind of thing. I wrote half of the songs, Kerian Kane wrote a couple of songs on there. It's my favourite of all my albums.
  It sounds like it's a bit of a mix of styles something like your last album "Eclectic". An album that I believe you had to mortgage your house in order to finance?
  Yes it is. And yes I did mortgage the house to make that album, but then I sold the house to finance my Greatest Hits album!
  Gail, It's been wonderful talking to you. Thank you very much for your time.
  It's been my pleasure. 


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