Bill Hearne calls it 'The Road:' that metaphorical ribbon of honky-tonks, roadhouses, empty whiskey glasses, prison cells and unrequited love line with signposts and mile markers tattooed with names like Haggard, as in Merle, Williams, as in Hank, Owens, as in Buck and Lovett, as in Lyle.
Being legally blind, Bill has never actually driven The Road himself, but he sings with such authority of the tales he's heard while riding shotgun that you'd never know it.
Bill doesn't write his own songs. His greatness lies in his interpretive skills. His husky Texas baritone finds its way into a song's interior with the mellowness of fine bourbon and the warmth of a Sunday picnic. And of course, there's his pickin', a style he calls 'cross picking.'
He picked up the guitar when he was seven years old. "Since I didn't have people to play with, I developed a style that incorporated a percussion rhythm while playing lead riffs. Basically, I tried to be a one man band," he says.
Like fellow cross-pickers Tony Rice and Doc Watson, Bill is improvisational. "I hardly ever play the same thing twice,” he says. Not only does he rarely play the same thing twice, he rarely plays the same song twice. His repetoire is as vast as the east Texas plains. Don't, however, nurse your beer while waiting for yet another rendition of "Your Cheating Heart" to fortify your own lost-love misery.