William Shatner has tackled everything from blues and country to prog on his idiosyncratic albums over the past few years, and he’s just announced that his next release, Bill, will be a blend of spoken-word poetry and music, drawing inspiration from key moments in the actor’s long life.
Bill arrives in stores September 24th via Joe Jonas’ new label Let’s Get It! Records/Republic Records, and right now you can check out “Clouds of Guilt,” a collaboration with Jonas. “I’ve been a fan of Bill’s for as long as I can remember,” Jonas says in a statement. “He’s iconic. To not only be featured on one of his songs that mean so much to him, but to also get to be a label partner on the entire project, it’s an honor.”
You can also hear “So Far From the Moon,” which Shatner recorded with Brad Paisley. The song looks back on a difficult moment in Shatner’s life when he was unable to find work in the aftermath of Star Trek‘s cancellation and was forced to travel the country in his pickup truck and work the dinner theater circuit. He was sleeping in the back of the truck when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the moon.
“It’s so interesting to hear what effect the moon landing had on Bill,” Paisley says in a statement, “because every generation of astronauts since those days credit him with inspiration. I’m so proud to be on this track.”
Bill was recorded during the pandemic with producer Dan Miller from They Might Be Giants. Shatner’s longtime friend Robert Sharenow helped out on the lyrics, and Joe Walsh, Robert Randolph, John Lurie, and saxophonist Dave Koz contributed parts remotely.
“Through a series of phone calls, texts, and emails, music and words flew back and forth across the country,” Shatner said in a statement. “The [Covid-19] crisis created an urgency and quickly unleashed a candor between us that allowed us to peel back layers that sat on the surface of a subject to reveal the depth of truth buried underneath.”
“What better time to contemplate life’s biggest questions than during a global pandemic? Some songs touched on painful or beautiful moments, while others turned into elliptical philosophical explorations about the very nature of existence and death,” he added. “Bill blends long-form autobiographical poetry and prose, music, spoken word performance art, and philosophical exploration. Toggling between passion and despair, reflection and yearning, this collection explores my life journey during a pivotal and chilling moment of history.”
1. “I Ride”
2. “Made in the Shade” (feat. Joe Walsh)
3. “Clouds of Guilt” (feat. Joe Jonas)
4. “So Far From the Moon” (feat. Brad Paisley)
5. “Love, Death, and Horses”
6. “Just Forgive” (feat. Robert Randolph)
7. “Loneliness” (feat. John Lurie)
8. “Thunder and Fire” (feat. Joan as Police Woman)
9. “The Bridge” (feat. Daniel Miller)
10. “Black Horse”
11. “Masks” (feat. Dave Koz)
12. “Monday Night in London”
13. “Toughie” (feat. Robert Randolph)
14. “What Do We Know”