Puremusic interview with Billy Bob Thornton

by Frank Goodman

I had known that Billy Bob was slated to star in the new Travis Tritt video, "Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde." Brother JB is our publisher, and he and my brother-in-law Gary Falcon manage Travis, so I'd been privy to the video developments. Everybody was up about it, it was obviously not going to be your average Country video.

It doesn't take much to get me to pack a suitcase and go almost anywhere, my gypsy ways never changed. So when it occurred to JB that flying me out to L.A. might land us a Puremusic interview with Billy Bob Thornton about his new record, I was basically in the air. I didn't mind waiting for JB to turn up at LAX a couple of hours after me, I was engrossed in Ann Patchett's The Magician's Assistant, and having a big time.

We got out to the high desert location, outside Palmdale. There's an old abandoned little motel out there called The Four Aces, it's used exclusively for videos and movies today. The desert's funny like that. Something goes out of business, they just leave it there and walk away, let the elements have at it. I took some pictures of this old Spanish style mortuary, I liked the sign that said "Open."

I really enjoyed the record, Private Radio. I know, we don't usually cotton to records by actors. Visions of William Shatner singing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" or the shocking crooning of Jim Nabors comes to mind. But BBT grew up a musician long before he became a screenwriter and actor, and he makes that very obvious. Marty Stuart did a predictably deep job as producer, he brings so much to the table. I was as skeptical as you may be right now, but you'll find a very strong and individual artistic voice on every song, and you'll remember that the guy singing wrote Sling Blade.   continue