It was the fall of 2010, and Indy artist Bill Price found himself in the midst of an introspective excursion out west exploring some of his favorite places in the country.
One day while driving up from Missoula, Mont.,
“I kept looking at the sky, and was like, ‘Oh, my God. That’s just incredible,’ and then [I realize] I’m drifting off the highway,” Price recalls. “I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, and I literally did say out loud, ‘I can’t stop looking at the sky,’ out of frustration. Finally, I just said, ‘Okay, people die this way. I’ve gotta stop. I just can’t look over there anymore.’”
This memory is at the heart of Price’s latest project, appropriately titled I Can’t Stop Looking at the Sky. An expansive, multidisciplinary effort, I Can’t Stop Looking at the Sky consists of two CDs of music, a 120-page journal, a 160-page book of poems, short stories and essays, two 36-page oversized lyric booklets and more.
A native of Indianapolis, Price grew up on the city’s west side, where he attended Ben Davis High School. During junior high, Price discovered his love for music, although he wouldn’t seriously pursue it for many years. Instead he focused on graphic design work.
“I went to the University of Cincinnati and got a degree in graphic design, so my bread and butter is really graphic design,” he says. Eventually, however, he would begin to write songs, both on his own and in a group with local blues veteran Gordon Bonham called The Brains Behind Pa.
“When I was in high school, everybody that liked what then was called ‘commercial art’ wanted to design album covers,” says the 55-year-old Price. “So I joke with people that I had to start my own band so that I could design my own album covers.”
Never before had Price pursued anything as expansive as I Can’t Stop Looking at the Sky. The project is a culmination of his many artistic passions, and it’s something that just happened organically, he explains. “As I got into recording the album, I thought, ‘It’d be cool to do some more writing,’ and then the book evolved,” says Price. In an effort to keep the lyrics open-ended, he decided to publish his journal from the trip as well, also including that in the I Can’t Stop Looking at the Sky package.
“I thought, ‘I don’t really want to talk about what these songs are about, even though people love that,’” he says. “The lyrics are somewhat open-ended, and I would just like people to go on their own journey. So I thought, ‘If they really wanna know, I should include this journal. It’s not very direct, but it would give them a general sense of where all this came from.’”
Within the music and writings, Price explains that one overarching theme is time. This, in particular, has a lot to do with where he was mentally when he traveled out west. “My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so that was a seven or eight year process,” he remembers. “She passed away, and my father passed away. So I thought, ‘I really need a change, both geographically and mentally.’”
With this in mind, he decided to take a trip out west — making a special point to stop at both the Black Hills and Glacier National Park.
“I didn’t take a camera, I didn’t take a guitar, and I didn’t listen to any music,” he remembers. “I just rolled down the windows and drove through the Great Plains.”
After spending so much time with the serene scenes that surrounded him, Price eventually rediscovered his inner child, rekindling an overwhelming excitement that he hadn’t had in some time. “On that trip, I was as alive as I have ever been in my entire life,” he says. “[I’ve realized] that sort of enthusiasm about being alive needs to be a bigger part of my life.”
In addition to the lessons he learned through his trip, Price is also thankful for the fact that it prompted I Can’t Stop Looking at the Sky, of course. “It’s what I wanted to do, and it basically turned out how I envisioned it,” says Price.