The Bill Dees Story: A Classic Rags-to-Riches Inspiration for Songwriters

I just stumbled upon an interesting story online about music legend Bill Dees and thought I would share my thoughts here. If you’re too young to know who Bill Dees is, you’ll find out in a minute or so; he’s responsible for one of the most recognizable songs to ever be recorded.


After his death over five years ago, the Bill Dees story is still one of the most classic rags-to-riches inspirations any songwriter could hope to emulate when making songs.


Not many broke and penniless songwriters would have taken the risk of driving their young family to another city, while facing the possibility of the car not making it. Neither are there many, who would quit their job and follow someone blindly on the slender hope of making your own songs that would go on to make it big. Yet, Dees was bold enough to attempt both and came out on top.


To begin with, his decision to move to Nashville, Tennessee, turned out to be a game-changer, as this is where his talent finally took root. And when Roy Orbison, the man with whom he penned the smash hit, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” told him he didn’t have to go to work the following Monday after laying the track, Dees called it right again. From going on tours to writing songs for big names, such as Johnny Cash and many others, Dees quickly moved from obscurity to stardom, after being strapped for cash for many of his younger years.


Since then and, up to the time of his death in 2012, Bill Dees has cemented himself as one of the top songwriting and lyric writing greats over the past 50 years, and has left a legacy that includes one of the most iconic songs to ever be recorded. Many aspiring songwriters of today would be satisfied with even a fraction of what he has accomplished.


But while the music industry is highly unpredictable, such a feat as what Bill Dees was able to achieve is still possible. The important lessons you need to take away are that you should never give up or settle. Find what works for you and keep on trying, whether it is that you need to move to another city, try a different approach to making your own music, or throw caution to the wind and take a few calculated risks sometimes.


The Bill Dees story is not just a fleeting example of what is possible when you persevere, it can also be viewed as a blueprint for songwriters who are serious about success.