Wilson Dixon: interview
There are only two types of music - country and western, and Wilson Dixon's pretty good at both of 'em. Time Out meets the sardonic comedy sharpshooter ahead of his appearance at Time Out Live's 'Laugh Out Loud'
As one of the world's leading country and western stars could you tell us what the secret is to writing a classic country song?
'Making it sound so real and heartfelt, it is as though the listener could have written it themselves about their own life - if only theyhad got off their asses and done so.'
At the age of 12, you decided to drop the 'F' from between your names (it didn't actually stand for anything, apparently). What other big decisions did you make at this time?
'I also contracted tuberculosis when I was 12. Although this wasn't really my decision, it did keep me out of school for months, so I wish it had been. I'm pretty sure my brother Jethro gave me the illness one day when he allowed his pet skunk to share my milkshake. Word of advice to all you good people of London: don't share dairy-based drinks with skunks.'
You've been immersed in country music for 12 years now. Do you ever think about experimenting with a different genre of music?
'When I was growing up, I didn't realise I was playing country music, I was just in the country… playing music. And I kind of still feel like that. Country music is all-encompassing - it's all I know. Learning another kind of music would also require me to learn some more chords on the guitar and I don't have the time. I could never do anything like rap music, as I've had little or no experience with handguns, pimps or drug deals, nor have I killed any cops. I did own a mint-green Cadillac once that bounced up and down, but that's just coincidence.'
It's been a while now since your divorce - the inspiration for one of your greatest albums, 'I Love You, But I Also Want to Hurt You'. How much did that experience change you as a person?
'Getting divorced was probably the second biggest event in my life (after getting married). It's been a huge change. I'm glad you asked me how much it changed me as a person, 'cos if you had asked me if it had changed me as a rabbit, or a leek, I would've been struggling to answer.'
You've referred to your Uncle Wilbur as one of the greatest influences on your life. His advice on not living in the woods with dwarfs you hardly know, we found particularly compelling. What other pearls of wisdom has he given you?
'When I was nine, he taught me how to become invisible and got me to steal cigarettes from the Cripple Creek Store. When I got caught, and arrested, I realised that Uncle Wilbur, while being great fun, was deluded and slightly untrustworthy. Through this experience, I learnt that stealing is bad, but that was more of an indirect result of UncleWilbur's intentions.'
Having played widely throughout the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand, do you have any plans to conquer Asia next?
'I'd love to conquer Asia, but it's not going to be easy. Vietnam and Korea made that pretty obvious.'
As the world continues to change rapidly, do you fear for the future of the cowboy?
'As long as people eat burgers, we'll need cowboys.'
Talking of cowboys, how many guns and horses do you own?
'I've got one horse, called Andrew. He's a difficult animal. We've a long- running psychological war going on between us. Sometimes, to piss him off, I go to the barn, saddle him up, and sit on him, but I don't go anywhere. He's in a constant state of readiness for hours. Then I de-saddle him and leave the barn. It drives him crazy. As for guns, I've only got one. It's a rifle for shooting bears. I've pretty much held on to it to protect myself against Andrew.'
So you've never used it to kill a man?
'Not intentionally. But it was a long time ago. Let's just leave it at that.'
Oh, okay… Many artists make the transition from stage to screen. Do you envisage yourself trawling any red carpets soon?
'My wife, Maureen, ran off with a carpet salesman, so I try not to walk on any carpet at all. It hurts too much. Not the actual carpet, carpet actually has the opposite effect - of cushioning
and reducing the pain of walking on sharp/hard things. I'm talking about emotional pain here.'
Sorry to bring that up. We just wondered if there might be a Wilson Dixon biopic á la Johnny Cash or Ray Charles?
'I'd like to make a biopic, but it would have to feature my ex-wife, and I don't think there's an actress out there that is enough of a pain in the ass to portray her, so I can't see it happening.'
Did you enjoy making 'The Wilson Dixon Line' for Radio 2?
'I did. Recording it in the BBC Maida Vale studios where others such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bing Crosby and Seal have played was a real highlight.'
And finally… What is the Wilson Dixon philosophy of life?
'To eat, sleep and go to the bathroom. If I do all those things regularly, I'm usually okay.'
Wilson will be appearing in Time Out Live's 'Laugh Out Loud' at the Bloomsbury Theatre, Wed July 7.