On Tuesday night, Bill rides up to Lulu Belle's on a ten-speed bike, wearing a tank top, shorts, tennis shoes and a head band. He has never looked less wild.
"You know," he says, "I'd really like to get my songs published." The previous night he'd played his own "Lost Lover's Lounge." It's a fine, eminently recordable song and, according to Baldwin, a true story.
Bill walks through the refrain: "All my friends are loners/Here in the Lost Lover's Lounge/They're all just like me/In barfly harmony." The night before, the song had elicited one of the warmer responses.
"That line `Barfly harmony' fell in because there's a lot of guys who come in and they want to sing along. They're back here singing along and, of course, they're not really harmonizing; they're bellowing into the wind, you know. But they love the song."
The Cowbillys are warming up for their first set. In addition to Monday nights (and his pack-'em-in-popular Sunday afternoon gig at Lulu Belle's), Bill plays between the Cowbillys' sets from Thursday through Sunday. As people enter, they recognize the mild-looking Wild Bill and greet him warmly. Some he knows well, others simply have caught one of his acts previously.
"Prosperity," he says after shaking hands for the umpteenth time, "doesn't always lay in your billfold." Someone informs him that Shades of the West hadn't caught fire the night before. Roach "bombs" had been set off, and the smoke from them seeped from under the door. Bill laughs, in his element. But then there's that look in his eye.
"Man," he says, "this is the longest I've ever stayed in one place. I'm getting antsy to go to California." Lulu Belle's proprietor Dick Parsons overhears him and quickly responds.
"You're not getting antsy anytime soon. I don't want to hear about you running off to California."
"Well," Bill smiles, "maybe next summer."
"Yeah," Parsons says. "Keep it at a maybe."
"I have no idea what it costs to cut a video in 1991, but I'd guess at least $30,000. And then you gotta lip-synch it."
"A player will show his ability and always outclass the prerecorded stuff. The human element is what makes it art."
"If I see people out there are restless, I'll try to find an alley that'll get their attention."
"Some nights I can't sing as good and some nights I could fall off the stage and not miss a note.