I had given myself a sort of early retirement when I left the scene in 1985. All of the people in my family worked until they dropped, including my father. I decided to take a little time to enjoy life. I traveled, built my dream house, rescued a few dogs. My return to music, and acting, was deliberate, part of my musical arc.
My secret heroes were Joe Morello, Ray Charles - who is, in my opinion, the most dominant figure in musical history in the 21st century - and Frank Sinatra. Those are my heroes. And as a writer, when Bob Dylan came along, it was a miracle because he gave us all permission to say anything!
I think I've been influenced by everything I've ever heard. The first thing I ever heard was my grandma, who was an opera singer. The first song I ever learned was the 'Nessun Dorma' from Puccini's 'Turandot.' My father was a big band singer, so I used to hear him walking around the house singing standards all the time.
I always think that today is the best day that there's ever been. The song that I'm working on is always the best song I've ever written. The woman I'm looking at is the most incomprehensibly beautiful woman I've ever seen. These dogs that I have now are, by far, the best dogs I've ever had - although, so were the last pair of dogs I had.
My dad was a huge big band and jazz fan, and we both sort of enjoyed be-bop, but man, it required so much skill to play it. And then there was cool jazz, the era that Miles, Coltrane, and Ornette ushered in, and that found a home in me. It turns out that that music was just really where I breathed.
The power of network television is amazing. I've been performing for years but have been seen on only a few episodes of this show, and people spot me in public now all the time. They say, 'Hey, aren't you on 'Nashville'?' Most locals seem to really appreciate how authentic the show is.