Hotel Oklahoma
Guitar World|December 2019
Country music star VINCE GILL discusses his new album, Okie, and what it’s like to soar with JOE WALSH, DON HENLEY and TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT in the EAGLES
Joe Bosso

VINCE GILL HAS BEEN PLAYING the guitar for 55 of his 62 years. His virtuosic and sweetly expressive solos — whether flat picked or played fingerstyle — have graced more than 20 genre-spanning studio albums that have earned him 21 Grammy awards and just about every honor the Country Music Association has come up with. Asked if he feels like he has anything more to prove, the easy-going guitarist laughs gently and says, “Probably not. I’ve had a good run.” He pauses a little before expanding on his answer: “I mean, there’s still a lot that I can’t do on the guitar — we could fill a book with it. But a while ago I reached the point where I said, ‘I’m just going to play what’s necessary.’ That comes with age and experience. You don’t think like that when you’re young, but it’s a peaceful place to be. I’m content to say what I want on the guitar, and I can leave it at that.”

At an age where most guitarists might give thought to easing their workloads, Gill has been pulling triple duty. In addition to performing solo shows, he’s maintained a steady recording and touring schedule with his country swing ensemble the Time Jumpers, and since 2017 he’s been trekking the globe with the Eagles in an incarnation that includes band members Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit, and Joe Walsh, along with guitarist Steuart Smith and the late Glenn Frey’s son, Deacon. “I would be a pretty fortunate man just to be doing my own thing,” Gill says, “but to play with the Time Jumpers and now the Eagles, it’s like, ‘How more blessed can I be?’ But I just try to do the best I can and honor the music I’m playing. I can’t do more than that.”

Despite the hectic pace, Gill managed to carve out a block of time recently to record his first solo album in three years, Okie, which is perhaps his most personal and poignant release to date. “I’m proud of where I come from,” the Oklahoma native explains. “We were called ‘Okies’ as a put-down, but you know, we’re good and honest people. So I’m kind of appropriating that term as a way of saying, ‘You can’t judge us with preconceived notions.’ Goodness knows there’s too much of that.”

Much of the album is bathed in the sound of acoustic guitars (the tender ballad “Black and White” is a fingerstyle gem), although Gill and guest pickers Tom Bukovac and Jedd Hughes let their electrics snarl on the dusty country rocker “That Old Man of Mine.” On two stellar cuts, “Nothin’ Like a Guy Clark Song” and “A World Without Haggard,” Gill pays tribute to two of his departed musical heroes — the latter track pairs the guitarist’s heartfelt strumming with sweeping pedal steel textures that reach toward the heavens.

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