Four decades into an impressively resilient career, Billy Joe Royal’s soul-drenched voice is as pliable as ever. That’s demonstrated on his album Going By Daydreams, in which Royal girds each of the 10 songs with a relaxed confidence. The assurance was always there in his vocals—even at the start, when he established himself with “Down In The Boondocks,” “I Knew You When” and “Cherry Hill Park.” But that first period of heady fame wasn’t as easy as it appeared—every day was fraught with fear that his good fortune would come to an abrupt halt.
Fear is no longer part of the vocation. Royal is a steady presence on the tour circuit, a trusted veteran of several formats, and he’s still got it as a vocalist.
“I heard stories about how Clark Gable would finish a movie and say, ‘I’m never gonna work again,’” Royal chuckles as he handles last-minute details on his last day at home before another tour. “So I guess everybody worries about that kind of stuff. After a while I