As some of you may know by now, I've been in the studio for several weeks working on a new record. The concept for the record (and it's title) originated in part, here on this site. The record is called Listening Booth:1970, and consists of my take on 12-14, (depending on the final sequence) of the remarkable songs released during that seminal year.
I'm working once more with my old friend and cohort John Leventhal, who co-produced The Rainy Season and Burning The Daze for me. I can't tell you how much fun it's been getting back in the studio with John, who as musician, producer and arranger, is currently at the peak of his powers. The record is also being engineered and recorded in a studio owned by another old friend of mine, Rick DePoffi, who was one of the horn players in my old band, The Supreme Court.
i've wanted to do a record like this for a long long time. As a lot of you know, I'm as much of a fan as i am an artist, and over the years, i've been secretly making lists on my laptop of songs by other writers that i thought might be fun to try and record someday.
That idea started to take shape a bit more for me a few months back, when John's wife, the brilliant Rosanne Cash, invited me to join her in a music series she's been curating at The Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. Past shows included Rose and Elvis Costello for instance, performing songs with numbers in the titles (76 Trombones etc).
Rose and i did a show of songs about the sun, moon, and water. We sang classics from various genres; Moon River, Wade In The Water, Who'll Stop The Rain, I'll Follow The Sun etc. It was challenging, but liberating too...not singing only my songs for a change, but interpreting the work of others. By the end of the night, i found myself talking to John about making a record where i could just be the interpreter...the singer in the band as it were. And here we are.
Why songs from 1970 you ask? Well, by the time the record is released in 2010, it will be the 40th anniversary of that golden year. In my mind, it was one of the greatest years in music not only because it was still the golden age of the single (Tears Of A Clown, Close To You, Maybe I'm Amazed, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, All Right Now to name a few) but it was also one of the most pivotal (and remarkable) years in the history of the Album.
The Beatles broke up that year, and released Let It Be, while John, Paul, and George each released their first (and some say best) solo records.
Simon and Garfunkel also broke up that year, and released one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums in the history of pop music: Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Just to further prove my point, here's a few other titles from that year:
After The Gold Rush
Tea For The Tillerman
Sweet Baby James
Elton John's self titled debut AND Tumbleweed Connection
Layla by Derek and the Dominoes
Leon Russell's debut, Eric Clapton's solo debut...and the list goes on and on.
Many of these records had an enormous impact on me at the time and still resonate deeply for me today. John and i sat together for weeks, going over song after song, looking for the ones that we could not only do justice to, but could also put our own personal stamp on. Some songs that i thought for sure would work, didn't...and others that i never would have guessed that i could sing, worked really well.
I don't want to give you a track list yet...i'll drag the suspense out a bit longer on that front. Just wanted you to know what i've been up to lately. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and that you're reconciled about having been naughty or nice this year. Not much you can do about it now anyway.
If i don't talk to you sooner, have a happy and healthy Holiday Season everyone. Hopefully there will be plenty to talk about in 2010!
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