Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

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PETER SAGAL, Host:

And now, the game where we invite on big stars and ask them little questions.

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SAGAL: If you lose track of how many belt buckles you own, you're country.

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SAGAL: If you lose track of how many Grammys you have, you are a country music legend. That would be our guest. Vince Gill is a Country Music Hall of Famer. He's got a new album coming out in the fall. Vince Gill, welcome to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

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VINCE GILL: Thank you, Peter.

SAGAL: Great to have you here. All right, Vince, ready to go? How you feeling?

GILL: I'm scared to death.

SAGAL: No, you shouldn't be scared to death.

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SAGAL: You've faced more hostile crowds than this and won them over.

GILL: I am not the brightest guy. My junior year in high school was the hardest three years of my life.

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GILL: So we know. You know, this being NPR and all, I've lived here for nearly thirty years, and Nashville is a great city for charity.

SAGAL: Yeah.

GILL: I figured this will be another in my long list of things that I've done in my career that will, once again, I won't be paid for it.

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SAGAL: Yeah.

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SAGAL: There you go. I spent a long time listening to your music on the internet, and I ended up feeling much more godly, patriotic and sad.

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SAGAL: I felt that God loved me, my country would be there for me, and every damn woman I'd ever known had done me wrong.

GILL: That's exactly right.

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GILL: Yeah, Loretta Lynn said it best. She says there's really only two things to write about: cheating and God.

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GILL: You don't get that.

SAGAL: I understand.

GILL: No, I like the blue side. I've always liked the sad side of music, you know, the sadder the better. I grew up and played a lot of bluegrass music, and the songs were somewhat morbid in a sense.

SAGAL: Yeah.

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GILL: Somebody's going to die or something bad is going to happen. There was a great song writer, Townes Van Zandt.

SAGAL: Yeah.

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GILL: There you go. He had my favorite quote of all time. He says there's really only two kinds of music; there's the blues and Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah."

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SAGAL: And you weren't interested in Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.

GILL: I don't do a lot of Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.

SAGAL: Now, you came to Nashville a long time ago, thirty years ago or thereabouts.

GILL: Yeah, I moved here in '83. My first trip here was in 1974. I made my first record here in 1975, and then moved here in '83.

SAGAL: You're in the Country Music Hall of Fame. You've won how many Grammys, do you even know?

GILL: Twenty.

SAGAL: Twenty. He knows.

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SAGAL: I underestimated him. But country music, stereotypically, is about hard times. You know, the classic joke is my wife left me, my dog died, my truck won't start. Is it hard to maintain that perspective when you're as successful as you are? Have you written a song like my Mercedes S Class won't start?

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GILL: I think with anything attached to humor, out of that, out of the songs that I've written, one was with Rodney Crowell, the title was actually inspired by my father. It's called, "It's Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night that Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long."

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SAGAL: You don't need a song; that title right there will you get it. What does your wife, the fabulous singer, Ms. Amy Grant, think of that song, may I say?

GILL: Well, she has a good sense of humor, thank God.

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SAGAL: Yeah.

GILL: But I do remember the day that I came home after I had written that song. I got home and Amy was waiting for me. She said where you been? I said, well, I said I was out at Rodney's today and we were working on a song, and we wrote a song. She goes, oh, let me hear it.

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GILL: I said, well I don't really remember it too good.

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GILL: I haven't got it memorized. You know, we were just kind of messing with a few ideas. And against my better judgment, I sang this song for Amy Grant, my wife.

SAGAL: Did you really?

GILL: Yeah, one of the more popular Christian singers of all time.

SAGAL: Yes.

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SAGAL: And her feelings about it were?

GILL: Well, it took a while to make her understand that it was the idea of my father's before he passed away in '97. So it sadly dawned upon me that evidently the song was inspired by my dear mother.

SAGAL: Oh yeah.

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GILL: She hates that particular song.

SAGAL: Yeah. We know that you have a pretty clean image, squeaky clean in fact, and you're also a big golfer. And we heard that to protect your squeaky clean image, you hired somebody to swear for you on the golf course?

GILL: Yeah.

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SAGAL: You did that?

GILL: I was a little arrogant. I was doing really good. And I said, I need a designated cusser.

SAGAL: Really?

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SAGAL: So what did you do? How did you find that person?

GILL: They're everywhere.

SAGAL: Yeah. I know.

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ADAM FELBER: You must have been tempted to write a song about golf at some point or another though, right?

GILL: Well, I shouldn't say this. Paul McCartney told me never drop names but...

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SAGAL: I'm going to steal that.

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GILL: Amy and I have the good fortune of this July 4th weekend that we're going to get to go spend it with James Taylor in Massachusetts at a place called Tanglewood.

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GILL: We were talking on the phone today about songs. I mentioned that I had been playing golf. And he said, well there's never been any golf songs, and I said yeah, probably not. There's one that I know of. It was called "Golf's a Bitch and Then You Die."

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SAGAL: We heard that you were actually invited to join Dire Straits.

GILL: I was.

SAGAL: Really?

GILL: Twenty-two years ago. I was too heavy, unfortunately.

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SAGAL: Wait a minute, Mark Knopfler, the great guitarist, it's his band. He came to you and he said I want you to be in the band, and you said?

GILL: I can't. There's a weight requirement in rock music.

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GILL: I exceeded it just a small amount.

SAGAL: Did they make you try to fit into the skinny leather pants?

GILL: Exactly. I said you want to see me in spandex, Mark? I don't think so.

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SAGAL: One last question. You've hosted the Country Music Awards for twelve years straight.

GILL: I did, back in the early 90s, for twelve years.

SAGAL: Wow. I've been known to host some things myself. Do you have any tips for me?

GILL: You're doing great.

SAGAL: Thank you.

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GILL: You're doing great. You got three million people listening to you.

SAGAL: I know.

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SAGAL: But still, that's amazing, the same award ceremony for twelve years. They must have loved you.

GILL: It was fun. I had a good time doing it. It wasn't hard; I just brought people on, took people off, cracked a few jokes and went home. It wasn't that tough.

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SAGAL: Wow.

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FELBER: Wow, you just made Peter's job sound easy.

SAGAL: I know.

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SAGAL: I guess you're right. Well, what the hell then, let's just get going. Vince Gill, we are so delighted to have you with us here in Nashville.

GILL: Thank you.

SAGAL: We have invited you here to play a game that today we're calling?

CARL KASELL, Host:

Bwahahahaha.

SAGAL: Carl Kasell, ladies and gentlemen.

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SAGAL: Vince, meet Vincent, Vincent Price that is. We're going to ask you three questions about the career of Vincent Price. Get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl's voice on their home answering machine. Carl, who is Vince Gill playing for?

KASELL: He is playing for Carrie Burgess Brown of Nashville.

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SAGAL: All right, you ready to do this?

GILL: Yes, make a fool of me.

SAGAL: All right.

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SAGAL: Vincent Price grew up in a distinguished family. What was his grandfather's claim to fame? Was it A: he ran St. Louis' most successful and busy mortuary business. B: he invented baking powder. Or C: he single-handedly killed 100 thousand bison, a record at the time.

GILL: I thought it was Fisher Price toys all these years.

SAGAL: No.

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SAGAL: I would love it if that were true.

GILL: Wouldn't that be great?

SAGAL: Oh yeah, he knows Vincent Price's fortune comes from the Fisher Price toys. Did you know that?

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SAGAL: No, it's not true. At least I don't think it's true.

FELBER: I'm going to go with that one from now on.

GILL: Baking powder.

SAGAL: You're right, his grandfather invented baking powder.

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SAGAL: It was called Dr. Price's Cream Baking Powder, a big product in the late 19th century. He made millions of dollars and lost it all. True.

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SAGAL: All right, you got one right. The next question: Vincent Price starred in a lot of horror movies, as you know, some of which though, they were pretty obscure, including which one of these? A: Bloodbath at the House of Death. B: Scream, Screaming Person, Scream.

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SAGAL: Or C: An educational film for the U.S. Marine Corps called "What's really scary? Gonorrhea."

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GILL: I'm sorry. A.

SAGAL: You're going to go for A, Bloodbath at the House of Death. You're right.

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SAGAL: Very good.

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SAGAL: That was great. It was a 1983 British horror spoof. You ever seen it? You seem pretty confident. No?

GILL: No.

SAGAL: Okay.

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SAGAL: The last question, let's see if you can go for perfect. Like many celebrities, Vincent Price lent his name to products and services, including which of these? A: the Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art from Sears Roebuck. B: The Vincent Rice Cooker. Or C: The Vincent Price Home Blood Glucose Monitor.

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GILL: I just like that one. I'm going with that one.

SAGAL: The Vincent Price Home Blood Glucose Monitor.

GILL: No.

SAGAL: No, you're not going to go with that?

GILL: Okay, I'm going with A.

SAGAL: You're going to go with A, the Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art from Sears Roebuck. Yes, indeed.

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SAGAL: Well done. Vincent Price, for those of you old enough to remember, he was a famous art connoisseur and curated a collection of art that you could buy at Sears. Carl, how did Vince Gill do on our quiz?

KASELL: Vince had three correct answers, Peter, and that's good enough to win for Carrie Burgess Brown. Congratulations, Vince.

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SAGAL: Well done.

GILL: So I got to ask you.

SAGAL: Yes, ask me.

GILL: How did the saxophone player do last week?

SAGAL: Bill Clinton, known primarily for playing the sax.

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SAGAL: He got all three and he didn't mess around, he just knew them. It was really weird.

GILL: So you're saying I could be president.

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SAGAL: Vince Gill is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, a legend here in his home, Nashville. Vince Gill, thank you so much for being with us today.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!