Bill Anderson knew that he was passionate about music “when I couldn’t turn it off.”
“I don’t know if it was chasing me or if I was chasing it,” Anderson said of music. “But fortunately, we caught each other.”
Known by his famous nickname “Whisperin’ Bill,” legendary singer-songwriter’s work is a staple to country music, and spans genres across the music industry. On Thursday evening (December 2), the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum celebrated its newest exhibit opening, Bill Anderson: As Far as I Can See. Its name references “City Lights,” Anderson’s song that he wrote from the top of a hotel overlooking the stoplights in Commerce, Georgia: “A bright array of city lights as far as I can see / The great white way shines through the night for lonely guys like me.” The latest attraction officially opened Friday (December 3), and runs through March 19, 2023.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum marked the occasion with a star-studded lineup performing some of Anderson’s songs. Trisha Yearwood took the stage singing “Once A Day,” followed by Vince Gill’s rendition of “Which Bridge To Cross (Which Bridge To Burn),” and a duet of “Whiskey Lullaby” by Jon Randall and Carly Pearce.
Speaking with iHeartRadio on Thursday, Anderson reflected on seeing the exhibit in his honor for the first time. He told his kids, with a laugh: “I said, if I went and done all this, no wonder I’m so tired. It’s been a lot of years, a lot of miles, lot of music, (and) lot of fun.”
Bill Anderson: As Far as I Can See chronicles Whisperin’ Bill’s life and decades-long career. Born in Columbia, South Carolina on November 1, 1937, Andrson was quick to latch onto his love of music. The family moved to Decatur, Georgia in 1945, where Anderson learned to play the guitar and began writing songs. His iconic career includes singing and writing for popular artists, both in country music and in other genres. Anderson said: “If anybody’d ever told me I’d have written a song that James Brown would’ve recorded, or Aretha Franklin or Bing Crosby, I’d have (thought), ‘boy, you better go get your head examined!’ But all those things have happened, and then dozens more, and I just, I’m just thankful every morning to wake up.”
Aside from music, Anderson’s career also includes hosting his own game show and more. It’s all represented — along with baseball memorabilia and other items that are sentimental to Anderson — in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s new exhibit. He notes that one of his proudest moments was being asked to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1961, among other major milestones and experiences. “This exhibit, I mean, this ranks right up there,” Anderson said of the new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “I thought the only way I’d ever get into the Hall of Fame would be if I buy a ticket! Now they got an exhibit up. It’s incredible.”
Guests of the museum can expect to see many artifacts from Anderson’s career, including his Rawlings leather glove that he used as a pitcher for the Avondale High School baseball team in the 1950s; his 1958 D-28 guitar that he used to write some of his biggest songs; handwritten lyrics; stage costumes, and much more. The museum also organized an interview and performance with Anderson on Saturday afternoon (December 4).
“I grew up dreaming of the day they’d put my ball glove into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, never dreaming that one day it would end up in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville,” Anderson said in a statement. “But now that old glove, along with some guitars, a few rhinestone suits and some scribbled song lyrics are on display in the Bill Anderson: As Far as I Can See exhibit in Music City. When the museum does an exhibit, they really do it up right, and I’m honored to know that I am now a small part of their incredible legacy. I’m not sure I could have ever seen this far.”