Gail Davies - Backchat
First Published in Country Music International – October 1998
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of her self-titled debut album, singer-songwriter Gail Davies, has just released her 14th album, LOVE AIN’T EASY, and was the first female country artist to produce her own recordings.
What do you like about living in Britain?
The food is cheap! I've always said that I would like to live in Britain, and Europe in general, because the people seem to be much more knowledgeable about the music. When they are fans they really know everything about you, who played on your album and everything.
Is there anything you like about Nashville?
There's a lot that I like about Nashville, and sometimes I think people misunderstand. I have a love-hate relationship with Nashville. I love the town but I don’t like the industry. I've never been one to like corporate mentality of any sort. I find it very difficult to make music when you’re under the thumb of the corporate conglomerate, and I think that’s what the music business is. That’s caused me a lot of grief in Nashville.
What are your views on the British country music scene?
I'm a little confused about it, and I think a lot of people are. It used to be a lot freer than it is now. I can see the influence of Nashville in Britain. I can see that booking agents are much concerned with ‘Are you on a major label?’ and ‘Will the record company support the tour?’ without listening to the music. That’s very disheartening.
What do you think about the British country music scene’s obsession with line dancing?
I don’t mind people line dancing to my music, but I do mind if they want me to alter my music so they can line dance. I think line dancing on the club scene is great, because people get a chance to go out and do something together, and that’s fabulous. But when that carries over into the festival scene, it becomes really irritating. You can’t get up and play an acoustic song like Grandma’s Song, because they’re yelling at you to play a tune they can dance to.
Which of your own songs are you most proud of?
Lean On You, because to me it was a real song from the heart. I think the lines are very powerful. For an independent woman, who had been alone for over a decade, to say: ‘I had forgotten the strength of a man’s touch.’ To me that song is a real term of surrender statement. It was something I'd written to my husband Rob before we got married.
He Comes To Me For The Answers on the new album, concerns the problems you faced raising your son Christopher alone. What was it like being something of a pioneering single mother in the early 1980s?
It was very difficult at the time. Before Tanya Tucker and Wyonna Judd and others had children out of wedlock, I think it was shocking for people, though I publicly did not condone it. I think it was a very bad situation, a mistake that I tried to make the best of. I don’t think people should have children alone because my own experience has taught me that kids need a mum and a dad. That’s very important.
You love to go out for long walks, which is a little unusual for an American?
I’m 50 and I try to keep in really good shape. I try to walk for a number of reasons. The more time I spend in Europe the more conservation-minded I become. I think it’s a waste to be spending a lot of money driving around when you can walk to the store. I enjoy saying: ‘Hello’ to people who I walk by, and you see so much more when you’re walking, all kinds of gardens and things you’d never notice.
What is the response from the people you say ‘Hello’ to?
I'm real friendly and I look at people in the eye and say: ‘Good day, how are you?’ or ‘Good morning, how are you doing?’ At first they seem kind of shocked, then usually they smile and respond. British people are very reserved. I don’t know if it’s the mentality of the Royals and the common people, that they don’t like to step out of line or saying something out of turn. Americans are just a bunch of common people—we don’t care.
How do you see the future for Gail Davies and your music?
When my son graduates from high school, which is in the next couple of years, I think we will move here permanently. Last year, when I did the Don Williams tour, I told the audience every night, that Nashville was telling me to retire because I was too old to be singing. And they all said: ‘Oh no, no.’ People over here don’t seem to care about my age and image. If you’re still singing great and you want to go out and play, then you can play here, whereas a lot of doors are closed to you in the United States. America is such a youth worshipping society where women are still treated like sex objects and not as intelligent human beings. If you’re young and beautiful, and are perfect and have no flaws, then it’s fine. Anything that is less than what the American dream is, then they don’t want anything to do with you.