I’m the guy who loves being in the supporting cast. I’ve always felt like every note of a song is of equal value. Your part as the lead singer isn’t any more important than what the bass player’s playing. I know every note, every little bit of it and I want to. That’s how I was meant to be. Whether I’m making my own record, singing on your record, or playing a guitar part, I want what I do to have an impact.
Young: Well, having you play on this record. . . it just really wouldn’t be the same without it.
Gill: It was my pleasure. That was all I ever aspired to do [play guitar]. I never aspired to be up front. When I was a kid, I didn’t ever look in the mirror with a hairbrush going, “Hey, I’m Elvis!”
Young: You may not have aspired to that, but you inspired me to do it. I saw you in Nashville, one of my first concerts. You sounded better than your record, and I thought, “Man, I want to do that.”
We didn’t have a whole lot of cash growing up. My mom was a single parent for a while before my stepdad came into the picture. But that was one of the few things we could go do — go to [Nashville’s now defunct] Starwood Amphitheatre. I don’t think my mom knew at that point I’d want to do this for a living, but she knew I sang all the time and wouldn’t shut up.
Gill: In the years before I finished high school, I made a record or two and was out traveling and playing. My folks knew the writing was on the wall. My mom said, “What I want is a happy kid, not a rich kid. That’s what I root for.” She saw how much joy I got from playing music, and those years were leaner than lean!
Gill: When I look back, I don’t remember the best of the best. I don’t remember arena shows with 20,000 people. I remember funky little bar gigs where nobody shows up. The weirdest of the weird are what you retain.
Young: I’ve got a bunch of those. I played a funeral convention once. York Casket Company pays well, in case anyone’s wondering! [Laughs] My standing gig in college was playing the El Chico patio on Murfreesboro Road. I got $100, tips and free quesadillas.
Gill: My first gig, this lady said she’d pay $100 to play at her bar. There were three or four of us, and when we got done with the show she said, “I’m not paying you.” So I said, “My dad’s a lawyer, so I’ll see you in court!” I filed charges against her. . . at 15 years old. And the judge told me she was counter-suing me for slander, libel and defamation of character. He said, “Want some advice, kid? Chalk this one up to experience.”
Then the first time I ever played in front of anyone was second or third grade, they let me bring my guitar to school. I played “House of the Rising Sun” to a bunch of third graders — a story about hookers! [Laughs] So, I had a grand start.
Young: The first thing I learned as a kid was [Randy Travis’] “Diggin’ Up Bones.” Kinda morbid for a kid!