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Chris Hillman's "Time Between" memoir, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Thursday, December 3, 2020

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Chris Hillman maintains that "I couldn't match up to some people's stories" in writing his memoir.

That would be selling him considerably short.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is a veritable rock 'n' roll Zelig. He was a founding member of the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas the Desert Rose Band, Souther Hillman Furay and McGuinn, Clark & Hillman and also boasts a voluminous session resume. He's released seven solo albums as well; The latest, 2017's "Bidin' My Time," was produced by the late Tom Petty.

So if ever someone has a story to tell, it's Hillman, and he does in the just-published "Time Between: My Life as a Byrd, Burrito Brother, and Beyond" (BMG Books). Friendly in tone and rich with insight, it stakes a claim for Hillman, 75, as a seminal figure in American music, with a diverse palette of rock, pop, country, folk, bluegrass and more...

• Hillman says by phone from his home in California that he spent seven years writing "Time Between," uncertain about its future most of that time. "I was always making light of it -- the world doesn't need another aging rock star's whining autobiography. I just wrote it in a simple way. I tried to approach it as if I was telling you a story -- you and I are driving across country and I tell you "Here's what happened..." The nicest thing the publisher said to me was, 'Normally in your situation we go to a co-writer. You don't need a co-writer.' That, to me, was the best thing to hear."

• Hillman adds that his intended "subtext" in the book "is picking yourself up and moving on and keep going amidst any tragedies and problems" -- including losing his father to suicide at a young age and, of course, the myriad issues that have come with being part of many bands over the years. "Something would start to end and something else would pop up -- it was an amazing thing. There was always something opening up to me. You can't plan it to happen like that, y'know? But I'm glad it did."

• While "most of my dear friends know that my dad committed suicide," Hillman feels that will be the biggest surprise for many fans who read the book. "As I say in the book, it took me 30, 40 years to forgive him. I was a very angry person. Through all of the bands, from the Byrds on, I had some anger in me, just abandonment issues. My dad was a wonderful guy, lovely man. Very intelligent, very creative. And he just lost it; He had huge financial problems we never knew about 'til he died. But when you come to that place of forgiving him, it wasn't hard for me to write about it."

• Hillman did get some help from his daughter, and English literature instructor. "She did a preliminary grammar edit on the whole book and was merciless. When you're in the process of writing and you put some dumb clichι in...she was just, like, 'Dad, really?' and put the red pen through it. She said, 'You have enough exclamation points to fill 18 books!' She gave me back the manuscript and it was pretty bloody, but I had wonderful help from her, and my whole family."

• With the book out, Hillman says he's "leaning into trying to star writing something else -- not a music book, per se, maybe some kind of fictional thing," possibly based on the life of early film actor-director John Robertson. And while Hillman had intended "Bidin' My Time" to be his final album, he's not ruling out more music, either. "When I thanked Tom profusely and told him, 'This is the perfect way to end my recording career,' he said, 'What are you talking about? I'm not done with you!' Unfortunately that didn't work out, but I might get into doing something else down the road. I'm not writing anything yet, but...maybe."

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