"It's all right with me if you want to go home. It's all right with me – I can sink on my own. But I will be the last refugee." So goes the chorus of singer-songwriter Bill Price's final song, "The Last Refugee," written for and connected to his ambitious "I Can't Stop Looking at the Sky" musical, literary and design odyssey. He says it sums up not only the project but also what it's like to be a creative person with an artistic vision that only he can clearly see.
Four years in the making, "I Can't Stop Looking at the Sky" is over two hours and twenty minutes of original music housed in a gorgeous, deluxe package that includes a 120-page journal, a 160-page book of short stories, essays and poems, two over-sized, extensive lyric booklets plus posters, buttons, postcards and stickers—all designed by Price.
The music is varied and rich with different textures, instruments and rhythms. Presented as a journey, this thematic work speaks to universal human experiences of time, home, place, childhood, forgiveness, grace and paradox. Price claims that at this point in his life, it simply adds up to his worldview. While the themes may be broad, what makes the piece unique and more specific is the story behind it. Inspired partially by explorers Lewis & Clark, Price took a lengthy trip to the American West. "It was life-changing—a real journey on several levels. I have not been the same since," he says. "The ideas and inspiration from both the physical and internal journey propelled this project forward, and it seemed to take on a life of its own."
About the package, Price says, "I used to hide my graphic design side from my music contacts and vice versa, fearing the perception that one would delegitimize the other. I'm at a place in life now where I don't worry about that. It's just who I am." Price has always designed the graphics for his music—his album covers, posters and website—but writing a journal, short stories, essays and poems was something new. "I've dabbled in traditional writing before, but this was a real challenge for me," he explains. "Because the subject matter of the book roughly parallels the themes in the music and the journal hints at the inspiration behind the songs, it seemed like a legitimate thing to pursue."
"I Can't Stop Looking at the Sky" is the sixth release in a series of full-length albums and EPs that Price has released since 2001, the year he says that he seriously committed to writing, recording and playing music.
Looking back, Price says he was drawn to the songwriting aspect of music. “I don’t know if it was the realization that I was always going to be just an average guitar player or the fact that I always have an opinion that got me headed in the songwriting direction. But for whatever reason, I just got that fire. I was inspired by certain music to try and do a similar thing, and I still am." Price continues, "I am addicted to and totally fascinated with this entire process—the inspiration, writing, arranging, recording and performing of songs—and how that process is connected to life itself. There's nothing else like it that I know of."
In 2003 Price released his first album of original material, "Bones & Apples." It received airplay in the US and Europe on college and independent radio. He also teamed up with Indiana bluesman Gordon Bonham to form “The Brains Behind Pa,” a three- or sometimes five-piece band inspired by Dylan’s songs and influences. “Gordon and I both have a love of Dylan’s music and much that inspired Dylan, so we started a side project to explore all of that type of music.” The result was "Old Hat," an EP CD (2002) that contains seven traditional folk and blues songs. The follow-up album, "Better For The Deal," released in May of 2006, has fifteen original songs and strongly reflects the band’s influences. Both releases received airplay in the US and Europe on college and independent radio.
Price released "The Circus & The Gallows," a 3-song CD single, in 2007. In late 2009 he released "With the Eye of a Skeptic…," a full-length, acoustic-based CD. It received good reviews and radio airplay overseas, mainly in Europe. “The reception to the "Skeptic" album was the most positive and extensive that any of my albums had received up to that point," Price says.
In 2010 Price began to expand his performing area beyond his native Indiana by playing regional shows around the Midwest. He will tour the northwestern US for the third time in July of 2016. His shows vary from full-band performances to acoustic duo/trio formats, depending upon venue and budget. With the release of "I Can't Stop Looking at the Sky," Price says he hopes to do many shows based around the project itself, whether in small, intimate listening rooms where he intersperses readings from the journal and book with songs, or in full-blown, stage productions with visual projections that mirror the beautiful sky images throughout the project's packaging. "To create a show on that scale with all those musicians and visuals is an enormous undertaking," Price says, "but it is something I'm pretty excited about pursuing."