In the spring of 1999 I was charged by former Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen to put on a series of concerts in Centennial Park. My first call? William Tyler, Sam Smith and Keith Lowen – the men formerly known as Lifeboy.
In the spring of 2012, I was charged by Matt and Carrie with putting on a backyard imogene + willie party to celebrate Nashville artists around Bonnaroo. My first call? William Tyler. He is a friend and I am a fan.
My first memory of Willy T is at a USN Zeitgeist performance. Then there were numerous shows at Guido’s (for those Nashville natives this will jar the memory banks). From there, I have a very clear memory of watching Drop Dead Gorgeous (hilarious) with my family and cheering for the Lifeboy song that was on the soundtrack.
Now let’s fast forward to SXSW 2007. After gorging myself on copious amounts of margaritas and Mexican food, I was dragged to a screening of a film I knew nothing about. The theater was completely packed and totally dark and I was feeling panicky to say the least. Low and behold it was the touching documentary on the Silver Jews and there was William up on the big screen. Then, four years later, while cleaning my house and listening to the radio in Los Angeles, there was William on the NPR. It happened to be right when I was looking for music for placement in a couple of films I was working on and again he was my first call.
Prolific to be so young, he has graced the recordings of artists such as Lambchop, Charlie Louvin (RIP), Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Courtney Tidwell and countless others. Beyond this he has found a unique and very strong voice as a solo instrumentalist, releasing his solo record Behold the Spirit to rave reviews. Pitchfork said about the 2010 release, “Behold the Spirit is a sterling mixture of bravado and dexterity. Tyler could be an ace in any rock band, so crafted are his chops and developed is his taste”. Couldn’t agree more, Pitchfork. Couldn’t agree more . . .
Look for a new solo effort from Mr. Tyler next year. In the meantime, if you live in or around Nashville or plan to visit anytime after late July, William and his lovely sister Elise Tyler are opening a bar/music venue called The Stone Fox in west Nashville. We at imogene + willie, are very excited to have William play in our backyard this Thursday, June 7, and we greatly look forward to future collaborations.
And to you personally, William: Thanks for answering my calls through the years.