NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After releasing more than 20 albums and having more than 40 hit singles, singer Don Williams had a confession.
"I'm not that fond of my singing voice, and I never have been," said the soft-spoken, country music star.
But for 15 years, his whispering voice and soothing guitar have been behind such hits as "I Believe in You," "Amanda" and "Country Boy."
Thousands of people play his music at home. But Williams said he's not one of them.
"After I finish a project, I don't think about it anymore," he said. "I'm into what I'm going to do next rather than looking back and enjoying what I've already done."
The coming year could be a pivotal one for the 48-year-old entertainer, who was a member of the Pozo Seko Singers in the 1960s and acted with Burt Reynolds in two movies during the 1970s.
He has not been on concert tour since September, 1986, partly because he interrupted his career last spring to have back surgery. He plans four two-week tours this year, beginning in April, to see how his back holds up.
Williams is also re-evaluating the direction of his career with an eye to a new but undetermined challenge.
"I'm burned out on all the travel, the hours, the rooms and the restaurant food," he said. "Maybe it's time for me to do something else. But there's nothing in the back of my mind."
However, he still finds satisfaction in his well-crafted songs, often love ballads with poignant but simple lyrics and memorable melodies.
"I can only speak for myself, but good music is something that causes a reaction," he said. "It stirs up something emotionally or makes a reflection in a way you haven't thought about before.
"In assessing songs, I look for those qualities. I look for songs that are not complicated, that are very direct. I like a freshness in the music or the statement.
"I have never cared for (love) triangle songs or ones promoting drinking. I've always felt the responsibility not to promote those. A lot of people do those things, and the people want to hear them and feel OK. Enough people are doing those songs that I don't need to take my time with it."
Williams, who grew up in Corpus Christi, Tex., appeared with Reynolds in the movies "Smokey and the Bandit II" and "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings."
Acting is one of the diversions that appeals to him.
"I've always thought I'd like to try it again, but I don't know what I'd want to do. It's challenging. Burt and I got along real well. I have all the respect in the world for him."
Before beginning his country music career, Williams and two others formed the Pozo Seko Singers, who are best remembered for their hit, "Time."
That song "was more in the tradition of folksy type things like Gordon Lightfoot. . . . It had a striking melody and was something everyone thinks about: Time, where did you go? It all rushes by so fast."
In the past 15 years as a country-style singer, he has won many awards in the United States and abroad. He was voted male vocalist of the year by the Country Music Assn. in 1978. Overseas, his honors range from the United Kingdom "artist of the decade," as chosen by the publication Country Music People, to all-time favorite artist in the Ivory Coast.
His music, too, has been recorded by a diverse array of artists. Eric Clapton recorded his "We're More Than Friends" and Pete Townshend redid his "Til the Rivers All Run Dry."
His current release is "I Wouldn't Be a Man," which is a follow-up to the fall hit "I'll Never Be in Love Again." His earlier songs include "Tulsa Time," "You're My Best Friend," "Some Broken Hearts Never Mend" and "We Got a Good Fire Goin'."
"Sometimes I worry that this will be the album they (the public) don't like or this will be the single where they say, 'Why did he do that?'
"Music is not music to me unless there's a spiritual quality to it," he said. "Standing before the fans is a thrill when you sing, and the songs mean something to you and the audience reacts in the same way."
His weather-beaten cowboy hat has become his trademark. "I don't feel like I'm dressed unless I have a hat on," he said. "I don't like the sun in my eyes or my hair blowing all over the place."