I live large, but I'm on the diminutive side. One afternoon many years ago, I was standing in line at the DMV in Oakland, CA, waiting to get my driver's license renewed. I turned around in line, and I was suddenly eye-level with somebody's navel, or where it would be. I had to take a step or two back, just to see the guy's face. He was staring down at me like I was an amusing Lilliputian. "I guess you're Kareem Jabbar," I said. "I guess I am," he said laughing, and it sounded like the voice of the giant echoing though the valley below.

It was almost that shocking when Bruce Robison strode into his studio in Austin, where I'd come to do an interview. He seemed to be trying not to hit the ceiling with his head. I'm sure he could dunk a basketball in his teens. He had, however, the unmistakable air of a gentleman about him, and that of a pensive person. He sat down in a way that asked me to state my case.

I was very interested to speak with him, as he is in a rare catbird seat in the world of songwriting at the moment. He's written some big Country hits ("Travelin' Soldier" for the Dixie Chicks, "Angry All The Time" for Tim McGraw) and gigs as much or as little as he pleases, and largely without leaving his home state of Texas! He's married to one of our favorite singers, Kelly Willis, and is the brother-in-law of Dixie Chick Emily Robison; she married his brother Charlie, also a fine singer songwriter.

Bruce was very friendly, extremely intelligent, and completely down to earth. He made me proud to be a songwriter. (So many musicians are such immature self-obsessed idiots; let's face it.) He was very open faced about his success and how it's affected his life, as well as how it's remained the same. I was shocked in later weeks when I saw he and Kelly on TV in a national spot for Claritin, which he didn't even mention.

Austin was a fascinating place to visit, especially after getting opportunities to sit down with people like Eliza Gilkyson and Bruce Robison. His new CD, Eleven Stories, is a must-have record. We feel the same way about his previous release, Country Sunshine.   continue to interview