As William Tyler wrote me for an interview in 2011, “I think anytime I find myself settling into a pattern of consistency I start panicking. So while, yes, there is a certain framework of tools and methods that you need in order to be able to do linear things like touring or even recording an album, the musicians/writers/humans I most admire are the ones who refuse predictability.” Prior this this week it’d been about five years since he released his last podcast episode. That’s pretty inconsistent.
I recall listening to the first episode of It’s All True when it was released, or at least I remember the feeling I had listening to it and the appreciation that radiated throughout me. What came from my speakers was so genuine. That’s something I feel when I listen to William’s music or reflect on what I know of him as an artist. Not once can I recall it feeling like he’s reaching beyond chords that are structured to please his own ear. Maybe that’s part of why I admire him beyond his musical talents: He represents something to me bigger than the sounds he makes.
It’s been nearly six months since seeing William and friends play DRKMTTR—how has it already been nearly six months? It seems like it was just a couple weeks ago. And as he explains in the above episode of his show, things haven’t quite gone as planned for him since then. In March he let go of his lease in L.A. as his touring schedule looked to keep him on the road for much of the year. As it turned out, no sooner did he start moving out did the safer at home order come down. He drove across the country, returning to Nashville to be around his parents, and since then I can’t help but wonder what he—like so many other musicians—are doing.
In the same email he sent me many years ago, he said he hoped to learn French and how to play the pedal steel. I wonder if he ever made any headway there? Now I’m wondering what my own goals were nine years ago. Who I had hoped I’d become.
What’s funny to me about the lead statement about predictability is—to me—that encompasses what practice is. It requires focus, the methodical study by way of repetitious effort, diving in without any hope of immediate success, recognizing only that with time and effort it won’t be as hard to start again tomorrow as it was today. And in this time, most of us have an ample supply of time of the sort that would, under “normal” circumstances, be great for practice. On paper, there’s never been a better time to learn a new language or instrument. Yet the weight of doing something meaningful, or with purpose toward a self-prescribed goal, is at times immeasurable. And so when each day lazily drifts into the next, the novelty of the unpredictable breeds a taste for something other than repetition. What’s someone to do when faced with your own personal Groundhog’s Day? Releasing a podcast seems like as good an answer as any.