Bill Harley - Genuine, Irreverent, Universal, Ridiculous, Original
Bill Harley Newsletter

Summer 2017


Hi gang-


I hope your summer has been good so far. I was supposed to get out a newsletter at the beginning of the summer, but, like an unfinished homework assignment, ala "Zanzibar" I have found numerous ways to procrastinate. Change is constant, and so is procrastination.

Bill Harley sitting on the rocks on Block Island

Doing nothing on Block Island


After a great time in Jonesborough as Teller in Residence at the International Storytelling Center (where I dusted off John Muir’s "Stickeen"), I’m getting geared up for the second half of the summer – in mid-July, Debbie and I will be headed to the beautiful Northwest for a couple of festivals and time with friends on the San Juan Islands. Then we return for our son Dylan’s wedding.


I am one of those people who try to pretend that nothing is really a big deal.

But then something is.  We’re all excited. My job as executive producer of the wedding (self-appointed) is to stand back and say, "Looks good to me." I have been told I am doing an excellent job.


When I was nineteen, I set out from New England to hitchhike to California. I got as far as Cody, Wyoming, where someone stole my pack and money. I came home, which explains partly why I’m still in New England. So while I’ve performed in every state but North Dakota, I’ve never driven across the whole country.


Young Bill with long hair playing guitarBill at 19

Until now. In August, after the wedding, I’m flying to California and driving back to Massachusetts. Actually, it’s research for a book I’m sketching out (coming to the end of the Charlie Bumpers books and looking ahead). From an informal poll, I have found that many people drive across the country when they are in their twenties. Not their sixties.


Somewhere west of Tulsa I will say to myself, "What was I thinking?" More details as we get closer to the dates.


Charlie Number Six! – Charlie Bumpers vs. His Big Blabby Mouth


The sixth book in the Charlie Bumpers series, "Charlie Bumpers vs. His Big Blabby Mouth", will be out in September. I just got back from recording the audio version of it, and am currently rewriting the 7th and final book in the series. I’m really happy with "His Big Blabby Mouth" – with all the experiences Charlie has had over the past several years, this one goes a little deeper, and has Charlie dealing with some surprising family dynamics and his own big mouth. It’s still funny though and, as usual, we've got some fun stuff planned – including Charlie Bumpers Book 6 webpage and a book trailer.


Well...I'm Sorry


Well...I'm Sorry artIn the Spring of 2016 we had a name a song contest and "Well...I'm Sorry" was the winner. I remind you that you voted for that title, not me. I’m sorry it took so long - it shouldn’t have. Well,…I’m sorry! I think some of you might be able to use this even today. Don’t apologize! Just give them this song! Click here to listen to it now!


What we're reading


Our son Noah feeds me a steady diet of books he likes – a lot of them are international literature, and lately he’s been feeding me books from the mid-East. I just finished a very romantic novel from Turkey – Memed, My Hawk by Yashar Kemal. It feels like it should be an opera – brigands, rich people who callously control villages, a beautiful, intelligent woman imprisoned for her passion and love, and a hero who takes to the mountains to fight for his people, his honor, and his love. Jeesh. Great read. 

Noah also gave me one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Nigerian author Amos Tutuola, which draws on Yoruba folk tales in a bizarre, surrealist way. I’m currently reading Custer’s Trials by T.J. Stiles about that talented, dashing, egocentric scoundrel whose attitudes and actions so defined nineteenth century white American’s perceptions of this land. Views we have not escaped. A really good read.




I recently read a long article in the New York Times about the jazz pianist Craig Taborn. I like jazz a lot, but was not familiar with Taborn – I got two of his recordings, Daylight Ghosts and Avenging Angel, and have been living with these amazing, challenging pieces of music.

Also, after Debbie and I saw the wonderful jazz pianist Omar Sosa up in Boston, I’ve really enjoyed his collaboration with the Malian kora player Seckou Keita, Transparent Water. Really beautiful and approachable.

And, after Gregg Allman’s passing, I’ve been living with At Fillmore East – an amazing recording.

Let us know what you’re reading and listening to.

I’ve got a busy fall – a lot of festivals and school visits. If I’m near, come see me.

Best to you all

From the Office
  Summer Sale  

We've picked three titles to celebrate the summer: High Dive (to celebrate those trips to the pool), Yes to Running! (for those long car trips that always seem to happen in the summer) and Nothing for Granted (something fun for the adults because it's their summer too!). Get the CD for $10 each or download the MP3 for $5 each! Good until August 10, 2017.

High Dive album coverYes to Running! album coverNothing for Granted album cover
  And don't forget - you can buy the mp3 of "Well...I'm Sorry" exclusively from  

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