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Interview with Jim Wilson, March 2024
Interview with Jim Wilson, image 1
A couple of months ago, I had an email from pianist/composer Jim Wilson announcing the upcoming release of his book, Tuned In. I offered to review the book, and was astonished first by the 5 1/2 pages of endorsements from some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, and then by the book itself, which chronicles Jim's life. Even though I've known Jim for awhile, I had no idea he had done so many fascinating piano-related things. Recalled with candor, humor, and humility, even if this book was fiction (it isn't!), it would be a page-turner. One of the remarkable things about the book is Jim's emphasis on following paths and opportunities as they arise in life, because they could take you places you never dreamed of. Tuned In is definitely one of the best and most inspiring autobiographies I've ever read. Jim agreed to chat with me about the book and we did this interview via email in March 2024. Enjoy!

KP: Hi Jim! There are just a couple of weeks to go before your book, Tuned In, will be officially released. I know the book has received some really glowing reviews and endorsements (including mine!), but it must still be kind of nerve-wracking. What made you decide to write such a personal book?

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Click on book cover to go to Kathy's review.
JW: Hi Kathy! First of all, thank you so very much for your kind words about my book. So very grateful that it connected with you. 

Re: why I chose to dig a bit deeper, I just know that the memoirs that I connect with are the ones where the writer is vulnerable and takes a chance on revealing their humanity. Gotta leave blood on the page, as the saying goes! Ultimately, I do hope that my journey as an artist will serve as an inspiration to anyone pursuing a dream against the odds.

KP: I have no doubt that it will be a huge help to a lot of people - and not just musicians! Looking back at the interview we did in 2020, you mentioned, pretty much in passing, that you had started writing your memoirs. Was the pandemic part of the motivation to do that? 

JW: Indeed, I had long intended to begin work on my memoirs, and when the whole world shut down in March 2020, I was left with no more excuses! I started cobbling together fun behind-the-scenes stories of encounters with many of my childhood heroes, whom I’ve had the honor of working for and getting to know. As the project unfolded, it evolved into a much bigger “David and Goliath“ narrative. The original reason I had learned the craft of piano care was as a means of supporting myself in Los Angeles, while trying to become “the next Jackson Browne.” (Spoiler alert: I would instead become the next Jackson Browne … piano tuner. :-) 

The last third of the book deals with a personal tragedy that forced me to “tune in” to my higher purpose as an artist, and about the obstacles I overcame in pursuit of that dream.

KP: I found that the book flowed very much like life itself with ups, downs, plenty of humor, heartbreak, startling developments. Many parts of the book read like a letter or email from a good friend - interesting asides, funny commentary, and total candor. The whole book is more than enjoyable with quite a few revelations that were at least moderately mind-blowing: one of your first tuning jobs was for a Van Cliburn concert! (No pressure, right?) A road trip with Carole King! Collaborating with artists such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Dan Fogelberg! Amazing stuff, and it's really nice that your writing expresses excitement and appreciation for all of it without it coming across as "Look what I did!" Had you kept journals or records with the various incidents and stories, or was it mostly from memory?

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JW: My original intention with learning the craft of piano servicing was simply to have a means of supporting myself while trying to make it as a songwriter in L.A. Little did I know what kind of doors that would open for me and what a magic carpet ride it would provide.

One of my hesitations about starting the book was my fear that I couldn’t remember the details. But once you start writing, the details begin to resurface. It was a very cathartic process, actually. Looking at old pictures helped to trigger recollections as well.

KP: It really is true that when you start looking back on one event or memory, others are often triggered. "Oh yeah! I forgot about that...." What kinds of things are you planning for promoting the book? I guess bookstore tours are kind of non-existent anymore!

JW: I hired a publicist who has been having incredible results booking me on podcasts and doing interviews. (One of which is for a major magazine seen in every check-out line at the grocery store! Color me excited!)

KP: I'll be watching for that! Are you planning to do more writing? You have so much to share and have such a warm and friendly way of getting your points across!

JW: Considering this has been an EPIC four-year process, I don’t think I’ll be undertaking any massive writing projects in the foreseeable future. :-) However, I will be narrating an audiobook version of Tuned In soon!

KP: Are you working on any new recordings? I mean, it's obvious you've been doing a lot of just sitting around (yeah, right!)!

JW: No new recordings in the works currently, but I am in discussions about a possible appearance with a symphony. Will let you know!

KP: I know Tuned In is available for pre-release orders on Amazon and Barnes and Noble now. Where else will people be able to find it after the release date of April 2, 2024?

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JW: It is indeed available on all digital retailers as we speak! (BTW, all pre-orders *now* will help to put the book further up the charts when it’s released on April 2, so there’s a special place in Heaven for all those who jump on board now. : ) And, of course, it will remain available on those same sites — until the end of time!

KP: Am I correct that the book will be available in all formats?

JW: Indeed, the book is available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book!

KP: I might also mention that I plan to backtrack and review your earlier albums as well as all of your sheet music books, so they will appear on the MainlyPiano.com website as I have time to get them done. I'm really looking forward to the songbooks! Thanks for sending them over!

JW: My pleasure! I look forward to hearing how you’re enjoying them.

KP: Is there anything else you'd like to "talk" about?

JW: I’ll close with a line from one of my favorite Shawn Colvin songs: 

“May we all find salvation in professions that heal.“ 

My mission as an artist is the same as it is as an author: I genuinely hope that my music and this book provide lasting value in people’s lives.

Thank you for having me, Kathy.

KP: It's absolutely my pleasure, Jim! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview!

For more information about Jim Wilson and his music, be sure to check out his website and his Artist Page here on MainlyPiano.com!
Kathy Parsons
March 2024