“C’mon in,” welcomes Vince Gill, standing in the door of his home studio in Nashville, Tennessee. “I guess you’re wondering why we called each other here.” And then a big Vince Gill laugh and a quick smile.
Over our hour conversation, which included such topics as his successful marriage to Contemporary Christian singer Amy Grant, life in the South, and the hazards of opening bacon, he remained good humored and thoughtful. Okie, the family’s cocker spaniel rescue, kept watch.
You are creative in so many ways, but I think it would surprise people to know that you decorated this house.
VG: Well, with a little help. (Laugh) Amy is just not into it. I want it to be beautiful and inspiring to be here, since this is where I live. I built a two-story porch on the front of the house, and I put two rooms together as one big room, and built the studio here. I love messing with stuff. The pictures have to hang right, you know? It makes me crazy otherwise. Even though I’m always changing a bunch of things, this house has Amy’s spirit all over it.
How have you and Amy kept this marriage strong when so many other celebrity couples can’t do it?
VG: I think the fact that we found each other when we did is a big reason. When you’re young, you don’t know enough. Had we married at 18, or 19, or 20, who knows? You can’t say, “Oh, it would have been perfect like it has been the last 16 years.” It may not have been. But the last 16 years have been so kind. It’s really remarkable how good we fit.
You two have a large blended family. Do you have any advice on being a good dad?
VG: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just keep ‘em alive. (Laugh) We’ve had a run of scary incidents with one of the kids, Sarah. She’s had three scary accidents. One was very close to being fatal. You just never know when the good luck’s going to flip, and it’s going to be the other side of the coin. Be grateful it’s good.
You had your own scary incident last Christmas, cooking your big traditional country breakfast.
VG: Yeah, I got fired as the Christmas breakfast cook, because I cut about half of my thumb off opening the bacon. I had a really sharp knife, and my whole musical life flashed before my eyes. (Chuckle) I didn’t know how bad it was, but my thumb was just lying open. A couple of the kids are squeamish and went running, and Millie, our middle daughter, immediately started bandaging and hosing it off. She was right in there like a little nurse. It scared us all pretty good. So I’m officially fired. (Chuckle)
What’s your favorite Christmas memory from growing up?
VG: Getting my first guitar. Nothing will trump that. Amy has given me some amazing gifts, and family memories probably mean more than any gift I got. But as a kid, you couldn’t beat the wonderment of Christmas. And when I was ten years old, I got a really nice Gibson electric guitar. To see my folks scrimp and save and give me a great instrument like that to learn to play on was invaluable. A lot of parents give their kids a really bad instrument when they’re starting out--an instrument that no great guitar player, even Chet Atkins, could play. (Laugh) But I was lucky. It was inspiring. That’s all a kid really needs, is to just be inspired. It won’t let you down.
Did your family have Christmas traditions?
VG: Not really. Occasionally they’d let us open a present on Christmas Eve. My sister would sneak down there and untape all the presents, see what she got, and then tape everything back up. (Laugh) She knew everything she was getting. I was too afraid to try that!
What do you remember best about your childhood?
VG: Just the innocence of being a child. Nobody worried. I don’t know if we even locked the doors. But the world isn’t as innocent as it was 50 years ago. You look back and go, “Man, how grateful am I that I didn’t have to be cuddled and watched every second.” I rode all over town on my bicycle. There was nowhere I couldn’t go. I had complete freedom. But if I abused it, I got my ass kicked. (Laugh)
Read more about Vince Gill: The Music Legend or watch the full interview.