Radney Foster: Telling stories differently

Full House by Phil Houseal

“I like being a storyteller.”

Honestly, I didn’t know much about singer/songwriter Radney Foster before interviewing him. But when those were the first words out of his mouth, I knew I was meeting a kindred spirit.

Foster, Who will be doing an acoustic show in Luckenbach on Nov. 10, is best known for his early 90s hits “Just Call Me Lonesome” and “Nobody Wins.” But he is a multi-talented artist, and storytelling is the common thread.

“I tell stories with guitar; I tell them when I’m singing; I tell them as an actor, and now I’m trying to tell them as an author of short fiction,” he said. “I like the solitude of banging them out on a computer or handwritten on a piece of paper in the privacy of home. I like doing it on stage with other people around. I think it really boils down to that — my love of storytelling.”

His latest project is a departure from the typical singer/songwriter perched on a stool in a noisy bar. He has written a book to accompany his new CD, called “For You To See The Stars.” The book features an original short story to accompany each song.

His desire to create something beyond the three-minute minstrel tune was forced on him. During a bout of pneumonia two and a half years ago, he got laryngitis so bad his doctors would not allow him to speak at all for six weeks, followed with another six weeks of vocal therapy before he could sing.

 

“That was an existential crisis for me,” he said with a laugh. But a fortuitous one, it turned out. “It made me think how can I tell stories differently?”

His theory was that there is a short story inside every song. While the song hits the highlights of the story, he wondered what was going on in the characters’ lives that lead up to that moment? About two weeks into his enforced silence he wrote a note to his wife outlining the idea, using one of his songs called “Sycamore Creek.”

“I think I want to write this into a short story,” he remembers thinking,” just to keep from going crazy. My wife said, you should, because you are driving me crazy!”

 

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