Billy Ray Cyrus lays bare his ‘Hillbilly Heart’

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He’s proven his skills as a country music star and actor on film, TV and live on Broadway. Now, Billy Ray Cyrus can add published author to his accomplishments. His new memoir, “Hillbilly Heart,” takes a candid look back at Cyrus’ childhood, rise to fame, and personal life as a successful entertainer.

You go into a lot of detail about pain in your past. What was it like to write about that?
It was difficult and therapeutic. I visited some places that I’d put in the back of my mind, locked the door and thrown away the key. They were things that hurt just a bit to go back to. But what I learned was reliving those moments prepares you to move on for the future.

How is writing a book different than writing songs?
Songs come to me very quickly, usually in a moment of inspiration colliding with desperation. The book was a long process: homework, diligence and getting the facts right. I had to sit and think of it a whole lot more.

Did anyone help you work through the material?
Todd Gold was my ghostwriter on this. He did a great job, and helped me organize my thoughts, and put them in the proper order. He’s part writer, part therapist – his job requires a whole lot of listening. He had a great way of priming the pump and getting me to tell stories. We worked very closely on it.

You know I can’t interview you without asking about Miley. What kind of advice have you given her about the business?
A lot of the advice I gave was advice my dad gave to me, like, “If you ain’t happy, it ain’t workin’.”

What’s up next for you?
I’ve written a TV pilot. I still love film, I love acting, and I’ve written a new album. I’ve been writing songs as I wrote the book; it’s been an infinite source of emotions, and I’ve been able to translate it into music. No sense in slowing down — I love what I’m doing.

One sillier question. What is the craziest rumor you’ve heard about yourself?
I always get a kick out of the Chippendales dancer one. I think that’s pretty funny.


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