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Don McLean: American As American Pie

Published March 2018

 

DonMcLean001Every writer dreams of writing the great American novel and songwriters dream of writing that one song that everyone knows.  Forty-seven years ago, Singer/Songwriter, Don McLean, accomplished both with his masterpiece song, American Pie.

While McLean has written other huge hits such as “And I Love You So” and “Vincent”, “American Pie” is THE song. The hit. The indelible mark on humanity and culture around the world. It doesn’t get much headier than that.

I met with Don McLean and his publicist in his hotel suite in downtown Nashville. He was there for a brief exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame as well as to receive BMI’s Million-Air Award.

As we made small talk, he asked about Boomerocity and the other publications I write for as well as my background. When I mentioned that my first concert was Elvis and my first “interview” was a chance conversation with Colonel Parker before the show, it started an impromptu chat about all things Elvis. It was such a rare privilege to hear one icon to speak in-depth about another icon. McLean had a lot to say about Presley.

“It’s hard to believe that he was bankrupt when he died. Isn’t that unbelievable? And, then, his wife ends up being this business genius; turns it all around and makes it (Graceland) the most visited place in the United States; makes hundreds of millions of dollars. Only if they had stayed together, imagine what a great combination they would’ve been! He basically couldn’t exist. He didn’t like being without her.”

Then, with a bit of what appeared to be mild disgust, Don added:EverythingKnoxvilleLogoEdited

“He had those boys he was always with! Imagine waking up in the morning, ‘Hey, Priscilla! You’re lookin’ purty good!’ I mean, c’mon! All in the pool together. Those guys not only killed his marriage, but then they went and wrote that book (Elvis: What Happened by Red West, Sonny West, and Dave Hebler), which really killed him.”

The discussion then slightly veered over to Elvis’ musicians. McLean started off by telling a story about a quote by Jerry Scheff, Elvis’ bassist for many years.

 “I read an interview by the bass player and he said the sound was Vegas Punk. That’s what he thought of the sound of Elvis’ group was. Hard edged. Very basic. A punk rock, Vegas thing, is what they were, basically. Isn’t that a funny perception of their sound? As I listen to it with that in my mind, sometimes, I hear what he’s saying. Ronnie Tutt (Elvis’ drummer), that guys is like an octopus! Nobody plays like he does! He (Elvis) had the right people.

“I’ve read a number of books about Elvis Presley. It’s funny because I remember Gordon Stoker (of the Jordanaires, Elvis’s former backup group), whose son, Alan, is the reason why they’re doing this little tribute to me and my music. He would talk about Elvis because Gordon just couldn’t stop talking about him. Nobody could. Nobody has! Those guys were close to him, you know? We would talk, and we would always go around to Elvis and he says, ‘Oh, this story and that story.’

“He said one thing – it’s a very simple thing that he said. He said two things, actually. He said, ‘You couldn’t tell the Presley’s nothing.’ That’s interesting. They’re their own little clan; keeping their own counsel; you couldn’t tell them nothing – no matter how wrong or right it was, whatever. They knew it. He died but they did know. They were going to stay with the Colonel no matter what. The Colonel took his half but made him what he was.

“And the other thing he said – and this is a cute phrase that he used – when Elvis realized that he wasn’t going to be in A Star Is Born or one of those things where he was going to be a real actor, he said, ‘He took down his sign.’ That’s what Gordon said. ‘He just took down his sign.’ Out of business. He was just sleepwalking from that point on. I don’t think he realized, ‘What am I going to do after the jumpsuit and the show gets old and I’m getting tired.’ Can’t retire! He was saying that he couldn’t retire. Too many people to feed. Too many expenses. He’d been swamped by all these expenses.

DonMcLean002“I sat with Tom Jones once. We were talking about him (Elvis), of course, and talking about Vegas. I said, ‘Do you realize that in a month, Elvis Presley got paid $150,000 for the week; 15 shows a week; 60 for the month. He got only half of that which is only $75,000 for 15 shows and he bore the expenses. So, you’re talking two grand a night to do these shows for two hours. He was killing himself!

“At the same time, I was making $7,000, $8,000 a night myself and The King was making two grand a night, what it comes down to. And that’s what killed him was those shows; working like a rented mule!”

I used our conversation about The King to lead into a question I had slotted for later in the interview and that was what Don’s favorite cover of was one of his songs. I’d told him that mine was Elvis’ treatment of “And I Love You So”.

“Well, Elvis’ cover of that song was one of my favorites and the other one was the Fred Astaire version of Wonderful Baby. Those are two that I’m very proud of. Elvis recorded the song twice. He recorded it live. It’s on his last album – the concert album and he recorded it on that Today album. But he also did it just about every night in that last year of his life. So, there are now quite a few, I guess, board mixes floating around of those shows. The song is on every one of them.

“It thrilled me because when I was a little boy – 1956, I guess – I was, like, eleven, and Elvis had just come out. I had two 78 rpm records of Elvis Presley. That’s the first ones I had were 78’s. My grandmother and I used to sit and listen to those. My parents didn’t understand any of that, but she loved music and she loved the Jordanaires.

“So, it was a big thrill for me many, many years later – in 1978 – to be in Nashville and record Since I Don’t Have You, DonMcLean003Crying, and do two albums, Castles In The Air, the re-recording, all with the Jordanaires; two whole albums with them. I got to know them, and I took them on the road. Played Carnegie Hall three times, I think. And we also went overseas and did a BBC television special with a lot of guys from Nashville and the Jordanaires in 1978, around there. So, there was a lot of that.

“I worked with them off and on through the eighties. On all the records I later made, I always try to have them on there; on my Christmas stuff and all that. So, I got to know them and their families as well as the sidemen in town. That’s the only personal connection I had with other artists is in Nashville. My legal people are here. Everything has sort of grown out of Nashville. I don’t know why. It’s just like this natural affinity for me.

“Chet Atkins used to do Vincent every knight. He’s the one who brought And I Love You So to Perry Como. He called me to his house when he was dying. He wanted to say goodbye to me. Tony Migliore, his piano player for twenty years, who has been mine for twenty years now, or more, went with me and we said goodbye to Chet who was very sick. He said, ‘I’m just glad I got to know you.’ Isn’t that a nice thing?

“I remember when I was on the Grammys. The Grammys were here in Nashville. Vincent – the whole “Pie” thing was up for Grammys; four different categories they were in. I didn’t win in any of them. I sang Vincent on the show. Johnny Cash invited me to his house and I stayed there for a couple of days and met his family. So, you can imagine that I was swimming in legendary oxygen. Very heady.

DonMcLean004“So, as I was leaving, I was going down this escalator to go to the gate at the airport and George Jones is going up the escalator. It was in the crew cut days. He had a Nudie suit on and he turned to me and said, ‘Nice singin’, boy. That was good singin’, son.’

“So, they immediately took to me. I’ve always been kind of a loaner and it was a beautiful thing to be appreciated. I’ve had my supporters in the world of rock and roll and in the world of straight pop music and so on, but I never really had the across the board – I got to know Brenda Lee; I got to know many other folks who would send me Christmas cards. Ralph Emery and people like that. It’s a nice thing for me.”

Since we were talking about Nashville, I asked Don to tell me about the exhibit of his at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“Yeah! It’s a real nice thing because of that. Again, I’m not one of those powerhouse guys with all these platinum records. I do have gold and platinum records all around the world in many countries; amounting to forty, I guess. But I’m not a major store or a major commercial entity but I am a piece of Americana, I think. For that, I think Americans like me. They like my music and it belongs, I think, in the exhibit. I think it will be entertaining. Interesting.”

I also asked about the BMI Million-Air award McLean was receiving.

“Well, it’s so often, I guess, when they notice that I’m with BMI, they decide to look and see how many plays off of so many songs. So, that’s what’s gonna happen.”

As I stated at the beginning of this article, writers dream of writing the great American novel and Don McLean pretty much did that with American Pie. He’s obviously had a lot of years to reflect on it and endured a lot of idiotic questions about it, so I wondered with him being at this stage of his life, what was his assessment about why it still stands so well and why the intrigue about its mystique?

“Well, it was always a phenomenon, you know, from the very beginning. It always dominated my image – to the detriment, really, of people listening to my sound, my style, my singing style, my guitar playing, my performing skills. It’s always been about the fascination with that song. And as I’ve gotten older, now, I’m really thankful that I have something somebody wants to hear because I’m seventy-two years old. I’ve been on the road for fifty years. Played all over the planet and all over these United States; in every little place and big place.

“It’s a wonderful thing, now, because I can be interviewed and get my ideas across. The albums sell well. The ‘Best Of’s’ sell DonMcLean005well. People know the material and it’s because of that song – always being fresh. Always pushing on to new generations; not dying off with the generation that it started with. So, it started off as a bit of a drag and then it turned out to be a very good thing as time went by.”

It was at that point that I interjected that, for the record (no pun intended), that, in addition to American Pie and Vincent, the most moving song off that album is The Grave; that it’s still applicable today with war still going on. Don replied:

“They always will be going on. As long as we have the Military Industrial Complex, you’re going to have venues to try out this stuff. That’s usually what it comes down to. So, that’s it and Eisenhower warned us about this and here we are, you know?

“It’s the same thing with this global warming stuff. When I was with Pete Seeger forty years ago, there were lots of scientists who would give little lectures. We had this thing called the Hudson River Sloop and it was an environment project. They said, ‘In forty years, if we don’t do something, the following things are going to happen.’ And they’re happening! The prognostication was absolutely correct. Therefore, there’s some aspect of this that has to do with what we’re doing.

“Now, having said that, the planet’s changing all the time. Things are happening all the time. It’s almost like trying to figure out what complex thing is happening. You can’t really blame one thing. But, it’s not helping people with asthma, I’ll tell ya that so who needs it, right?”

Since he brought up his Pete Seeger days, I asked him a question that I’ve asked others who had performed in the sixties and seventies. I had listened to other interviews with McLean where he talked about how it was in the sixties and seventies and how that was the fodder for what he wrote in American Pie and other songs. I asked him to think back to what was going on in his mind back in those early days, what was he imagining fifty years from then being like and what was going to happen between then and now; how close to that was he and how far off was he?

“I can give you a very simple answer. I never looked ahead that far, at all. All I can say is that I feel the same as I always did. People seem to be somewhat the same. But, I would think that – the big change that I’ve seen – there’s many things I could say. Too many. But one of the things is that I think people have become more superstitious. They’ve become less empirical in their knowledge and in wanting to know things. They’re more likely to say, ‘Well, you know, if I’m blessed, this will happen to me.’ Doing something that’s sort of outside the norm of, ‘Well, why dontcha just get a goal for yourself and make that happen?’ You know what I mean? I think that has to do with the decaying of a lot of institutions. The church. The schools. Family life. Morality. Civility.

“Gradually, over a period of time of many, many, many years – starting out, everybody thinks that the sixties was such a great thing. I never thought it was. I thought the music was interesting but I didn’t like the idea of everything sort of disintegrating. ‘Tear it down! Steal this book!’ What are you gonna replace it with?

“The human being has a ferocious subconscious which is capable of doing anything and law is the only reason that we don’t. Without law and some sort of belief in morality and right and wrong. I think part of it – if I want to go one step further – I think that it’s part of – I hate to say this – but I think, really, we are always in a struggle totalitarianism; with communism; and they love to see our resolve fractured and our beliefs challenged. And they love to see us not know quite where we’re at because it helps them. And I hate to say this but I really think that this is an ongoing struggle we sort of don’t realize is always happening. You can see it more, now, this whole Russian thing that’s going on; the Chinese thing and the fact that we allow them to manufacture everything. EVERYTHING. And it ain’t good!

“We look back as if you could sort of sit here like your question was just like that. You’re sitting here, now, ‘What did you think it would be like then?’ Well, to start with, back when Kennedy was around, there were a hundred million people in the United States. There’s three hundred and fifty million (now). Sixty percent of them were on the farm. Farms are shrinking like mad. You’re gonna have this genetically altered food. All this weird crap that we’re gonna eat.

“The only thing we have before us now is clear skies. I would imagine if we manage to survive for another two or three hundred years, then you’re gonna have a lot of junk flying around in the sky. Little people with their own little things. Little drones carrying things because everybody has to have everything yesterday. ‘Oh! It will be landing here on a little pad!’ I can’t see office space being of any value because everybody’s going to be doing this (taps my laptop) or out of their phone or out of their new devices that we haven’t even started to see, yet. I can nanotechnology with this stuff plugged into us; everybody all locked into everything. No privacy! Everywhere you go, every second. There ain’t no privacy now!

“And the other thing – I’m really talking too much now – but the thing I say is this whole bringing people down with accusations, which is happening right here in Nashville. There’s a PR guy, Kirt Webster, destroyed in a week by accusations. Nobody was convicted of anything. There’s no proof of anything. There ain’t nothin’ except a bunch of people saying some things and it’s happened over and over and over. That’s not American, I don’t think, and I think a lot of people are starting to realize this and it’s making people afraid to interact.

“I never worked for anybody. I never had a job. I never had a boss. I’m just an observer and that’s where the songs come in. I’ll write things and put stuff in a song, from my observations. Why? I’m unemployable. I could never work for anyone. I’d say the wrong thing the first week I was there!

“That’s one of the things that I’ve learned. THAT’s the way things of have changed! I’m almost like Rip Van Winkle. I have awoken or awakened – whatever the word is – and realized between the social networking – it’s always about power. It’s always about power. Certain groups wanted to get power and finding ways to get power. Always about power . . . and about money. Always about those two things. Power, first, and then you get the money. I don’t know if this particular strategy is going to last.

“We have a lot of technology and a lot of stuff that keeps coming every second and making everything go faster. I think we’re pretty much going as fast as we can go. I think that’s why people go postal. I don’t think it’s too hard to figure out. They just throw up their hands. That’s the wonderful thing about my life is that I have places that I can go and properties I have which are – I’m into my horses, the land, solitude to some degree. I say that I’ve never had a boss or human resources counselor or anything like that so I’m still free to think and say what I wanna.”

As we got close to wrapping up our time, I asked Don McLean what did he hope, at this stage of his life, his legacy will be and how did he want to be remembered.

“Well, if you had asked me that ten years ago, we didn’t have YouTube. Now, I know that anybody that’s interested in singing and songwriting and guitar playing can follow me back to 1969 see me progress along with hundreds of these performances of many, many, many different songs and, also, lots of different situations. TV shows; in the studio; in front of thousands of people; outside; inside; small venue; whatever. And interviews to go with it so that anybody can find out – and then there are books telling my story and hundreds and hundreds of articles written about me.”

I interjected and asked if he was going to write a book, to which he replied:

“Maybe before I die I might start to write something which would be very personal but I’m not sure I wanna say any more about me than has been said. I don’t really know. There are a lot of personal, interesting things that I’ve experienced and seen that I might want to write about. I don’t know what I’m going to do.

“I know the story is out there. It’s an accurate story. The two books that have been written about me are accurate. And, as I say, all of this footage; all these appearances. People can make a decision about me. I never was trying to become the new Don McLean. I was always the same one. They say, ‘He reinvented himself.’ I say, ‘I was alright to begin with! I just need to keep on going!’”

When I, again, interjected - this time about how his guitar work was tastefully intricate from the get-go and only improved from there, Don said:

“You have to have taste. You have to know what your limits are. You have to keep things tasteful. Less is more! I hate these common phrases that everybody uses but that’s a true one. As you become more economical, as you go through the years, it’s easier to do the things that you wanted to do because you’ve done it so much.

“One of the things that I’ve noticed with a lot of the kids – very good singers and players and performers that are amateurs on television, on these shows, is that they over sing everything. They put ten notes in where two will do.

“Go listen to a Sinatra record. Listen to a ballad off that album, No One Cares. Listen to him sing. It’s not the number of notes, it’s the tone. It’s the control. It’s the vibrato. And the notes, exactly when they’re supposed to happen. Timing. Real timing. Not singing all kinds of stuff all over the place but moments. Judy Garland. Listen to that Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall, sometime, if you want to hear some singing. She’s stoned out of her mind and forty pounds, and probably a little drunk. Nobody can sing like that. This is a function of doing it. Not doing it at home but traveling, working, doing it, doing it, doing it. Year in. Year out. Year in and year out until you have command of this stuff. It’s a nice thing. It’s a nice feeling.

“My command is disintegrating, somewhat. I probably peaked in my fifties and maybe even in my early sixties. I’m getting older. I’m a little tired. There’s that thing. You really have to work hard. Maybe lift some weights and do some vocal exercises. Drink a little less. Eat a little less. All that stuff.

“Also, you have peaks. I had a certain voice in 1970 and another voice in 1980 and, then, another voice in the nineties. A little darker. A little lighter. I still have the high notes but a different voice now. I still sing everything in the same key. But I don’t hit outrageously high notes like I might’ve done when I was twenty-five.”

When I brought up about him taking opera lessons as a kid, he said:

“I took a few for maybe a month – two months, until my voice just started to change and then she kicked me out and said, ‘Come back sometime when you’re finished.’

“I never came back but I remembered everything she told me and I did the exercises. I kept building my voice. The voice is anDonMcLean006 amazing instrument because it’s a muscle and, if you use it properly and use throughout the years – if you have a run, say, a tour of a month or two months where you’re singing every few nights, that voice will be much better when you’re finished than it was when you started. If you don’t know how to sing, it will probably crash.”

My last question should’ve been my first and that was for him to tell me about his new album, Botanical Gardens.

“It’s a new album. All new songs. The album is called Botanical Gardens. It all stems from the theme song or the title song, I should say, which is a guy – an older man thinking about his life. It’s gotten kinda stale. ‘What am I gonna do? I’m going to this botanical garden and I see all these beautiful women and all these lovely flowers and colorful birds and memories of my youth. Start dreaming about romance and that wonderful youth and feeling. As the day goes by, the sun goes down, the gates are going to be closing. ‘Do I leave or do I stay? Do I go back to the world or do I stay?’ A kind of heaven. All the other stuff flows from that.”

Botanical Gardens is available March 23rd online wherever great music is sold. You can also keep up with Don McLean at his website, Don-McLean.com.

Marc Copley of JD and the Straight Shot

Posted February 2018

 

JDTSS MainPressPhoto Photo Cred Kristin Barlowe CroppedIf you’re heavy into what is increasingly being called “Americana” music, then odds are high that you’ve heard of the genre-pushing band, JD & The Straight Shot.  However, because people from around the globe rely on Boomerocity to turn them on to artists whom they may have not heard of, let me take a moment to introduce you to this cutting-edge, Americana band.

The band isn’t some half-shod group of Eagles wannabes. Nope. Not in the slightest.  Each musician in this band is top shelf talent all the way. The band consists Jim “JD” Dolan on guitar and vocals. Helping out is Carolyn Dawn Johnson (who has also played with Miranda Lambert and Kenny Chesney) and Marc Copely (who also produced the band’s latest CD, “Good Luck and Good Night” and has played with none other than the great B.B. King as well with Rosanne Cash. Formerly with Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Robert Plant is bassist, Byron House.

Great Americana bands are rarely complete without a fiddler and this one has one of the best: Erin Slaver (Martina McBride and Rod Stewart).  Beating the skins is percussionist/drummer, Shawn Pelton (also with the Saturday Night Live band and has played with Levon Helms, and Sheryl Crow).

It was with the band’s own Marc Copely that I communicated with about the exciting year they have coming up which includes opening for legendary bands the Eagles, Chicago and The Doobie Brothers on different tour legs kicking off on March 14th in Chicago at United Center.

My chat started off with congratulating Marc and the band for opening for the Eagles soon and asked him how it felt to be, JDTSS MainPressPhoto Photo Cred Kristin BarlowePhoto by Kristin Barloweonce again, opening for the legendary band.

“It’s certainly an honor and pleasure to tour with The Eagles. I mean... it’s THE Eagles!!! It’s a lesson on harmony singing every show for sure.”

Not only have they toured with the Eagles before, but JD & The Straight Shot has also toured with Don Henley in the past. I asked Marc how he feels the band’s music and style dovetails with both Henley’s solo work and with the Eagles? 

“I think we’re a perfect fit. We focus on vocal harmonies and also come from the tradition on American Roots music.” 

Copely produced JD & The Straight Shot’s new, all-acoustic album Good Luck And Good Night. I wondered how it was juggling producing responsibilities with also being a band member.

“It was great. The band is super supportive and creative, and they really let me take it where I wanted to go sonically. Everyone’s input is important to the overall result.” 

As for what his favorite songs from the new album to play live, Marc said, “I have a blast with “Run For Me” since our fiddler/violinist Erin Slaver and I get to go crazy on a Celtic-inspired instrumental part of the song. We love that!”

As for what fans can expect from JD and the Straight Shot’s live performances, Copley replied, “High energy, thoughtful lyrics that tell a story, and lots of fun.”

The band is doing quite well riding the Americana wave that really has been swelling for, oh, say, fifty-something years now. I asked Marc what he thought the state of Americana music is today.

“Americana is hot since we’ve seen so much commercial success with artists like Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell. I don’t think Americana has ever sold as many records, and the crowds have been outstanding.” 

And what does Copley think the future of the Americana genre looks like in the coming years?

“Looks bright to me! American roots music is about the human condition and the honesty in telling the stories of that condition. It's the truth and the truth will always find its way.”

JD & The Straight Shot has worked with a lot of big names in music which is a testament to you and the band’s standard of excellence. When I asked who the band hasn’t worked with that is still on their bucket list, March said, “We’d like to hang with Chris Stapleton. Maybe do some shows with Bob Weir?” 

Wrapping up our chat, I asked Marc Copely what was on the band’s radar for the rest of 2018.

“This year there will be lots of touring, and we’re looking towards making a new record by the end of the year. We want to come out and play some new tunes for everyone first though!”

Boomerocity will definitely be keeping up with this groundbreaking band and hope to join some of you at one or more of their tour stops this year. Be sure check out JD and the Straight Shot’s tour schedule on developments at their website, www.jdandthestraightshot.com.  Their latest CD, "Good Luck and Good Night", (as well as all of their previous releases) is available on Amazon.com and iTunes.

Jonny Lang Talks About Signs

Posted February 2018

F Jonny Lang Photo Credit Daniella Hovsepian bxw croppedPhoto By Daniella HovsepianBoomerocity thinks that there’s nothing like a great rock and blues artist. One such artist is Jonny Lang. We’ve been tracking Jonny for a few years now and we’ve finally had the opportunity to chat with the young guitarist about his new CD, Signs.

We started out with Jonny sharing what the reception to “Signs” has been so far and which songs seem to be fan favorites.

“It’s been really positive, man, for the most part, I think. Yeah! We’ve been having some really good reviews about it. It seems to be reflecting at the live shows. Some more people coming out. A lot of people seem to know the lyrics. They sing along. Those are all the things you want, you know?”

And what are the fan favorites?

“Man! It’s all over the place, really! I haven’t seen one that people have tended toward. When people write in or at the shows or anything like that. It seems to be pretty evenly dispersed – maybe five or six of them. So, that’s pretty cool!”

With several albums under his belt, I asked Jonny how “Signs” was different to put together as compared with his previous discs.

“Man, I can’t say that a whole lot was different about the approach other than just life changing for me. You’re just growing as a person. What that did, naturally, to inform the style and subject matter of the songs. I guess I never really go into making a record or writing a song – or anything else in life, really, for that matter – with a plan, really. I guess, man, the first time I felt that feeling of whatever you want to call it: this inspiration; that unbridled sort of inspiration where you can just let go.

“All of a sudden, you’re not thinking. Something’s happening and it’s just flowing. It’s like, ‘Wow! I can experience life like this! It’s crazy! I don’t have to strive or struggle or think my way through it. I didn’t know this part of life could exist.’ And when I first felt that, I just chased it for the rest of my life! It continues to be that way. As a lot of the people that I work with can probably tell you – and my wife and a lot of my friends – they could probably tell you I could stand to be a whole lot more proactive about the way I do things. And they’re right, I’m sure. I think that I have to learn how to do that because I tend to get in my own way. That was a pretty long answer to your question and I really didn’t answer your question.”

EverythingKnoxvilleLogoEditedI interjected, “You kinda did! Because you inspired a subset to that question because I’d read that, like me, you’re a Believer, too. The question you inspired to me was do you feel that God gives you songs in the process?”

“I think God’s influence in my life – in anybody’s life – we shouldn’t really designate it to the moments that feel magical. I think it starts when you arrive here on this earth. He builds a lot of it into you. It’s my thinking, anyways, we’re built with the tools that we need to accomplish what our purpose is. Agreeing with the plan with that purpose, on our part, is a tricky part. But, yes, I do. There are moments where it’s, like, I feel there’s another person at work. There are times where I feel, ‘That didn’t come from me. I never even come close to thinking this or feeling that way before or conceiving of what just came out of me. So, yeah, I mean, I would definitely give God the credit for something like that even though I couldn’t give you empirical data, empirical proof. But it just seems there’s these – I don’t know, man! It’s like there’s this radio signal that’s constantly going and sometimes your antenna picks it up.”

Lang is touring in support of “Signs” so I asked what fans can expect from his shows during this tour.

“Shoot! I don’t know what to expect from our shows! Ha! Ha! A lot of new stuff off the new record. We have a form of each song. There’s a basic form, arrangement wise, that’s in that. There’s a lot of room to change things – the intricacies of it within the song. We all know each other so well, musically, and trust each other with those moments to where most of the time it ends up being a cool thing. Sometimes, we fall on our face real quick and then pick ourselves up and hope nobody saw! Ha! Ha! We just go with the flow, man, and have fun with it.”

I hadn’t planned on asking Jonny this, but it popped into my aging, feeble mind so I did. I asked him if he were to be made music czar, what would he do to fix the music business - or does it need fixing.

“Man! I would immediately redirect that responsibility to my second. Okay, ‘music business’ – to me, that has nothing to do with any reason that I do what I do. It’s a human system, right? All kinds of different humans have all kinds of different ideas how that system ought to work. Yet, there’s got to be a G Jonny Lang Photo Credit Daniella Hovsepian ReducedPhoto By Daniella Hovsepiansystem. The ones that don’t like it grit their teeth and get through it. The ones that love it try to preserve it and make it work so that they can benefit from it – really because of the motivation. I would hope that people can be motivationally sincere when we’re conducting business. Then we would be fine. But that’s just not the case and it never will be. It’s always going to be messed up in one way or another for one group or another. Gotta just go with the flow and keep remembering why you’re doing it. Hopefully, it’s because you love it!”

Lang is thirty-seven years old, so we expect him to be around for many more years to come. However, to close out the interview, I wanted to know how he wanted to be remembered and what did he hope his legacy would be when his life is over.

“Ha! Ha! Oh, man! I hope if there’s any hope or a thought that I’ve ever given to leaving behind something, I definitely don’t want to be remembered for some sort of greatness or some sort of way that I was personally amazing or something like that. I just hope that it can be said that I loved more than I didn’t and helped people along the way when I could. Something along those lines. I hope my kids turn out to be lovers of people. I guess they would probably be the legacy if anything was.”

Keep up with Jonny Lang at JonnyLang.com.

Beth Hart Talks About Her 2018 Tour

Posted February 2018

mona nordoy beth hart 0379 croppedPhoto by Mona NordoyIf you’ve been a reader and follower of Boomerocity for any time at all, you already know that we’re huge fans of the lovely and talented Beth Hart. We were introduced to her by way of her duet album with blues great, Joe Bonamassa. After passing the litmus test of successfully daring to cover Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” (and we warn people, “Don’t be messin’ with our Etta James’ work, now!). Blowing us away, we’ve become steadfast fans of this remarkable artist. So much so, this piece marks the unprecedented FOURTH interview with her (here, here, and here, being the first three).

I called Beth up at her SoCal home. After we compared notes about my weather in Eastern Tennessee and her weather in L.A, we started catching up on news since we had talked earlier in 2017. When I asked how the then recent fires had affected her and her husband, she said, “It didn’t really mess with us here too bad. I mean, it’s just really sad to see you know? But I do know a few people who almost lost their homes but they didn’t. And it’s still going!

Continuing, she added, “There were only about two days that it got kinda smoky where we are. We could smell it. But the winds have been so high, it just blows it right out.”

During our last conversation, Beth shared with me about the home renovation she and her husband, Scott, were undergoing due to some flooding so I asked her how that all turned out.

“My manager told me - because he had had a flood at his house – he said, ‘You wait and see. It’s going to be so much better when they fix it. You’re gonna like it better – what happens to it after than what it was before.’ And it’s so true because they repainted everything and built some shelves and they, obviously, had to rebuild the walls and stuff like that. Now, it’s ten times nicer now than what it was before the flood. So, it was a blessing! Thanks for asking about that! I was freaking out about that, wasn’t I?”

Our last chat focused on her then-new-CD, Fire On The Floor, so I was curious as to how it had been doing for her and what fan and crowd reaction had been.

EverythingKnoxvilleLogoEdited“Oh, Fire On The Floor?  Well, you know? People really seem to love that record when we play it live. I mean, we don’t play all the songs from it every night. We play different songs from the record at different times. If you go to all the shows on that tour or whatever, you’ll see the whole record at some point. We’ll do maybe four or five songs off the record and then switch them out on different nights. It’s just gone over like gangbusters and it’s funny because I loved ‘Better Than Home’ even better as a record.

“But it seems like ‘Fire On the Floor’ goes over better for live shows for some reason. I don’t know, maybe because ‘Better Than Home’ was a lot of ballads. ‘Fire On the Floor’ is more up tempo. Maybe that’s part of it. It’s been so much fun playing that record! I love that record! Oliver (Leiber) did a great job on that record, though. He’s a great producer! And all those great musicians he had. I mean, you kinda can’t go wrong with that!

“I started making a new record, though, with Rob Cavallo and we just got into the studio ten days ago. We started our first round for four days. We have Vinnie Colaiuta on drums which is really exciting for me because I’d only done the show with Jeff Beck that he had me do with him years ago. Vinnie Colaiuta was the drummer in our band. So it’s amazing, now, that I got him for one of my records! I can’t believe it! And Chris Chaney on bass and Stephen Pierce on guitar and, of course, Rob is playing guitar. It’s just a really great group of people and it’s so fun making a new record! So I’m excited about that.”

When I asked when we could expect to see the new record come out, Beth said, “You know? I’m not sure ‘cause I’m on the road so much and this is not like the typical records that I’ve been doing the last seven or eight records where we go in with the band then we basically play live to tape. We’re really not doing that this time. This time, we’re taking it in layers. Then, when I’m on the road, I come back and, then, if we get four or five days, we’ll go in with them and then I go back out on the road and then we come back and we do it again. And we just go until Rob says, ‘Hey! We got it!’

mona nordoy beth hart 1133Photo By Mona Nordoy“But I think we have a really nice start and the songs are really lovely and I’m just really happy and thankful, you know? It’s just so nice to get on and to have such a great connection. They were playing the other night to the song called “Let It Grow’ and I was just listening to them laying it down. What happened to me never happened to me on a record before. I started crying really hard just being moved by them and what they were doing with that song. It was just a neat thing, man, and Rob was crying and everybody started to cry. We were big cry babies! We were all hugging each other! It was really sweet! I never had that happen before. It was a neat, neat thing!”

Is there a crowd favorite from the album?

“Yeah! It’s like ‘Bang Bang’ had that kind of thing – the Bang Bang Boom Boom record – where people just want to have fun with those songs and dig in. It’s just been really, really cool. My band plays the hell out of it. They play it so great! I mean, my band right now is playing better than I ever heard them play. It’s ljust ike we’ve really gelled and become like a band. Everything is effortless and really fun! I love them so much! We’re going to start back up here in a little over a month. I’m go and do a one-off in Russia and I come back and we start a states tour with my band. I’m really looking forward to that. I miss them! I see them all the time but I still miss them!”

News of a new duet disc with Ms. Hart and Joe Bonamassa has been floating around. I asked her to clue me in on it.

“I don’t if the record has actually been released yet but I know that they put out the first song. It’s a song called ‘Black Coffee’ and that’s the name of the record, as well, is ‘Black Coffee’.  They put out a video tape of us in the studio when we were making it. So, I thought it really came out good. I was, like, ‘Wow!’ ‘Cause, I don’t know if you know, but I tend to be pretty tough on myself. I don’t really like to listen to my records once I they’re done. You know what I mean? I don’t really like to hear myself sing so much. I love TO sing but to hear myself sing is like another thing. You know what I mean?

“So, I watched it. Oh my god! This is rockin’! We seem really on it and it’s a really great song and I adore and worship Stevemona nordoy beth hart 4238 reducedPhoto by Mona Nordoy Marriott. So, yeah, it’s cool! I’m happy with that, for sure. The experience was tough for me in the studio this time. I don’t know why it was. It was a struggle. We weren’t in there very long. We were only in for three or four days.  But I struggled with it. I felt extra insecure. I wasn’t sure about the songs. There were some other players that I hadn’t played with before so I didn’t really get a chance to connect with,  you know, when we went in. But they seemed thrilled with it. Kevin’s really happy with it. Joe’s really happy with it. That’s what matters the most. Sometimes, when records are difficult to make, Kevin was saying, Kevin Shirley, the producer, he was saying that some of the best stuff comes from that.”

The main purpose of this particular interview with Beth was to cover the tour that was going to include a stop in my town. I wondered what fans could expect from her during this tour.

“You know, this is always been what I do and it’s probably will always be what I do is that we go out and we just play songs from every record and we change it up night after night. That way, it’s always seemingly fresh to us and then, hopefully, that energy translates to the audience. I think, more than anything, I just want that little bit of on-the-edge energy there. And what I try and do is I don’t assume that people have all the records. Sometimes, people will have one record of yours, you know? So, maybe we have a shot at giving them at least a song or two that they know really well or that they really like. It’s not like I’m a hit song person, you know what I’m saying? Where I know that I have certain songs that are, “Oh, my, my, my!” You know what I mean? So I mix it up night after night and just truly try and have fun with that.

mona nordoy beth hart 0379Photo by Mona Nordoy“So, we’re definitely going to be playing some stuff off of Fire On the Floor and then stuff from all the other records but I’m not sure exactly what songs, yet, because each night I make a new little set list. So, yeah, we’ll see, but it will be a mix. But, then, I’ve got my stuff where we’re rockin’ and we’re doing some soul stuff. And, then, I sit and play by myself at the piano. And, then, John and I do an acoustic set where I play some base and some acoustic guitar with him. Tell a lot of stories and that kind of thing.”

What else is on Beth Hart’s radar for 2018?

“Touring and figuring out what songs we’re going to do on the new ‘Joe’ record and, hopefully, people will like it. And, then, really working on this new record with Rob. It’s going to be something very different. That’s another reason why I like working with different producers on each record is that you just don’t know what new, fresh thing is going to happen. Then, plus, you know, I tend to write all over the place, genre-wise, anyway and different producers like different genres. Rob leans more towards rock or that singer/songwriter/heartbreak kinda like frickin’ storytellin’ stuff. So, it’s probably going to be along the lines of more of that. It’s an exciting thing to do! And he’s so nice! He’s so sensitive and sweet and I love that!”

Be sure to log in to BethHart.com to see the latest on her and to see where she’s going to be performing near you. I guarantee you that, if you’re not already a fan of hers, you will be a lifer after listening to her and seeing her perform. 

Collin Raye and Max T. Barnes

Posted January 2018

CollinRaye Approved Publicity Photo croppedIf you’re a country music fan and, more specifically, a country music fan in the nineties, you are quite familiar with country star, Collin Raye. His music dominated the country air waves with hits like, ‘Love, Me’, ‘In This Life’, ‘My Kind of Girl’, and “I Can Still Feel You’.

Recently, Collin and the co-writer of ‘Love, Me’, Max T. Barnes, re-teamed for one of Max’s songs, “I Can Sleep When I’m Dead” from Max’s album of the same name.

The three of us had the privilege of meeting up in Nashville to discuss the song and other subjects.

As we settled into our chairs at one end of a very long conference table in the cavernous conference room that the interview took place in, we engaged in a little small talk about getting older but these being the best times of our lives. Collin was enthusiastic about where he is in life now.

“I’m having a lot more fun than I had in my thirties forties. The pressure’s gone. There were so many things that happened between 1991 and 2003, let’s say, that I didn’t get to enjoy ‘cause the business – everything was so competitive and you’re trying to win this and you’re trying to win that and you’re trying to outdo this and you’re trying to outdo that because there are so many people pushing you to do that. So, it’s easy to say, ‘Oh, I love the fact that I don’t have big label pressure.’ And people say, ‘Oh, sure, I bet you miss it.’ No, I don’t.

“Aaron Tippen and I were talking not too long ago. He was talking about one of the labels that sprang up - a Nash Icon or something like that – there was going to be some money thrown at. There was going to be some albums from some of our generation. I said, ‘I think that would be nice.’ And he said, ‘Really? Do you really want to do that again at this point?’ And I started thinking about it. I thought, ‘No, I really wouldn’t’ because you give away a lot of everything including your creativity. Do you really want to do that dance again to gain what? And the answer is, ‘No.’

Since both men have been in the music business long enough to see a lot of changes, I asked them if the business is broke and EverythingKnoxvilleLogoEditeddoes it need fixing. Max shared his answer first.

“People ask me this a lot. Music changes. It always does. It comes through cycles. Everybody knows that. It’s nothing new. I remember when there was a time where we thought country music was so hot with Lee Greenwood and Barbara Mandrell. Looking back, they seem traditional. “And, then, Randy Travis and Ricky Skaggs broke it wide open with traditional stuff and everybody was, like, ‘Ah! That’s water to a thirsty man!’

“We’re going through a time now where there’s a certain music going on and I don’t begrudge those folks at all because it’s their time. There’s some good music going on. There’s time for everything and we had our time.

 “Though I can say this: you were saying before about there’s still room for folks who love Collin Raye and Aaron Tippin and I would venture – I don’t know what’s in their pocket, but you can do as well now where they are as, maybe, when the big record companies had their hands in their pockets. They’re probably still doing very well and with their hands out of their pockets. Now they’re enjoying life and getting to do what they want. Now, all these young artists have the record label’s hands in all their pockets – not just the front one. They got t-shirts, the touring, otherwise, nobody’s selling CDs.

“It’s a very different time and I applaud anybody who sticks their neck out – including the record companies – trying to sell music because it’s a very tough time with all the digital streaming, what’s available. Nobody knows what’s going on. Nobody knows who’s going to be the next Blockbuster Video – shut down and irrelevant. We’re going through a very unusual time. I don’t begrudge any of the new music.”

Collin chimed in by adding, “Yeah, I think that’s it exactly. I think, for me – I’m glad to hear you say that, too, because I don’t understand it, either. Because, I mean, I don’t know – and I think there’s a lot of people at the major labels that don’t know what’ we’re supposed to do. All they’re thinking of is the bottom line. ‘Therefore, I’m going to take a piece of your touring. I’m going to take a piece of your publishing. Because they’re thinking, ‘If we’re going to risk any money at all’ which, from what I hear, they’re not even willing to do that. They expect you to bring your own money. So, to me, you think, ‘Well, what good is a major label going to do for you, then?’

MaxandColin001 credit JamesPatterson ReducedPhoto by James R. Patterson“Okay, they have a machine. They have some control at radio and stuff but even that, radio doesn’t have the power that it had when we were out there. You know what I mean? There’s some acts – some rock and roll and alternative acts – that did it first. But that internet is a powerful thing if you know what you’re doing.

“My granddaughter – her and her mom went to L.A. for a little three day thing to see Brooklyn and Bailey live at the Roxy. I played at the Roxy back many years ago. It’s just a cool place to play. Roxy is like the Whiskey (a Go-Go). They went to see them. Brooklyn and Bailey are these two YouTubers – two sisters. Their mom had a thing called Cute Girls Hair Styles. It reached millions, right? Then, Brooklyn and Bailey started their own little thing and they’re way more. They’re, like, the biggest YouTube sensation. They’ve got 11 or 12 million followers. They both sing a little bit and now they’re putting music out.

“They went out and the place was packed. A big buzz about it. They didn’t do that with a record label. They did it by building a brand on the internet for free!”

I said that maybe what we’re seeing is the way it was in the original days of country and gospel music. You did your own recording, marketed out of the back of the car, and you were in charge of the whole means of production from soup to nuts to which Max piped in and said, “There’s a scene in Coal Miner’s Daughter that I think about all the time. It’s when Loretta was in the back of the car with the kids and her husband, Doo, was driving around to all the radio station, giving them all records. Everybody remembers the scene. Now, we couldn’t get buzzed in the door. It would be hard because there would be so many layers to stop these people from coming in. And even if we got in the door, there’s nobody in there.

“So, like you’re saying, the internet, Collin, it’s the Wild West and you can do just like Loretta Lynn did in those days – while the other’s going on.  It’s very strange.”

So, what has been the response to the new video, “I Can Sleep When I’m Dead”?

Max: “People hate this song. Ha! Ha! We’re here to squash and to put it to bed for good. Ha! Ha! This is the front end of the launch. People seem to get a kick out of it. Bobby Bare said, ‘There’s two middle aged guys who don’t give a crap.’ That’s not what he said but he said there’s two or three laugh lines in there that he loved. I didn’t ask him what he thought. He just offered that up.”

Collin: “He liked it, though. That means a ton.”

Max: “I think people just enjoy it because like we said before: it’s not that we don’t care. We do, but we don’t. We’re having fun. Collin’s doing great. He’s got a lovely life. I’m blessed. I’ve got a great life. We’re having fun. I think you can see it on the video.”

Collin: “You might have heard Max say earlier, talking about the buddy songs are kinda gone by the wayside. There hadn’t been anything like that in a while. The George and Merle – the album they made back in the eighties; these buddy/party songs. So, it’s kind of refreshing. And what I’d say about it, too, is when you get to those up-tempo kind of rowdy ‘we’re going to go out on Saturday night and have fun’ songs, often in recent years, in my opinion, they haven’t been well written or they were written quickly to where it was basically a hook. ‘This is the hook. We’re just going to keep repeating it over and over and over again.’

“This song’s a well-constructed song. Very clever. It’s got a lot of high points. Musical hooks happening. Lyrical hooks happening as every song that he writes does. Again, the big push has been a real push in Europe, you know, and the one thing I’ll say about European fans is they pay closer – right now – they pay closer attention to lyrics; to things like that than our American fans do. They’re like what the American fans were, say, back in the nineties. I mean, Rodney Crowell. Rodney Crowell couldn’t get arrested today in the United States because his songs are just too deep; too clever; too well written; too poetic. Over there, it’s a different story and they don’t care what you’ve done lately. It’s like, ‘Oh, I haven’t seen you on the late-night talk shows in a long time so we’re not interested.’  They don’t care. They like music! They like good songs and good music. It’s a joy to play over there and I think they’re going to eat this up.

“Don Williams, who we just lost, as big as he was here, he was a giant over there. Why? Because he was good!”

I couldn’t help but notice that their first hit, “Love, Me,” has the imagery of death and now, “I Can Sleep When I’m Dead” obviously alludes to it, too. I asked if this was coincidental or did they consciously plan it that way.

Collin: I think it was coincidental. Ha! Ha!

Max: Part Two!

Collin: “Our last collaboration, if you will, was a heavy song. A beautiful song about love beyond the grave. I thought it was kinda nice that we get together all these years later and do something that, for me, compared to hits that I’ve had, it’s far more ‘that’s my story and I’m sticking to it’ than it is, ‘Love, Me’. I think that’s kind of refreshing. For people who know that Max wrote ‘Love, Me’ and here we are, all these years later, instead of trying to redo that again . . .”

 MaxT JeremyWestby reducedMax: “Just wait until our third song, in twenty-five years . . . “

Collin: “Of course, you’ll have to come see us at the home to see us perform!”

Warren Zevon wrote a much darker song with a similar title, “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”. I had to ask if his song was on Max’s mind while he wrote and recorded this song.

Max: “No. Leslie Satcher and I wrote this song many years ago. As songwriters, we don’t fully research. It was totally innocent. Back in those days – which is not the same way today - back in those days, writers would never write a song if they’d even heard the title before. So, no, I’d never had that thought.”

Collin and Max go back a lot of years, so I asked them to tell me about that relationship and how much of the new video reflects that relationship.

Collin: “We’d never hung out and done that before. Although I’d be up for it if you wanted to. Ha! Ha! With Max and me, we’d always been friends and I think there’s always been a mutual respect since “Love, Me”. I mean, obviously, he handed me a career, basically. I remember when we found that song, it was over at Opryland Music Room is where I’d heard it. Jerry Fuller and I – my first producer – we were going around. There was a lot of artists – I remember Davis Daniel, Rob Crosby had records come out that same week or two that my All I Can Be – my album – was. Looking back on it – and I remember the feeling of, ‘Man, this is just a dice roll because no matter what we did, no matter how good or not good this album is, either people are going to dig it nor they’re not going to dig it. It’s either gonna break through or it’s not.’ and that song was the reason it broke through. All of a sudden, I was legitimate overnight. People started taking me serious. ‘Oh, he’s an up-and-comer’.

“It’s weird how this business is. It’s the song, right? Period. But, yet, if you’re the guy that sang the song, all of a sudden, it legitimizes you, too. I never felt the feeling, ‘Oh, he’s going to be a one hit wonder.’ They attach it to me even though I didn’t create that piece of music, you know. He handed me a career on a silver platter. I’ve said often times that any number of artists would’ve had a hit with a song like that and I was just the lucky guy that got it, so my sense of gratitude has always been really, really strong. So, when we reconnected again and just saw each other, ‘Man, we gotta do something! We gotta do something together!’ Plus, I respect Max not only as a writer but as a singer and he’s a great artist in his right and love to hear him sing and he’s just an idea guy. That’s one thing – as I’ve gotten older – I’ve run dry on those. I don’t have a lot of fresh ideas – not just as far as the songs – but a lot of fresh ideas of things to do because my professional life has become so automatic. I tour eighty-five to a hundred dates a year. I’m gonna sign my songs. I change the set list just to keep it from getting boring, but that’s what I do.

“Once in a while, I’ll do an album. I did a tribute album to Glenn Campbell three years ago. I just have these little projects I do but I don’t have a lot of fresh ideas. He’s (Max) is full of them.”

Max: “Full of it. Ha! Ha!”

Collin: “He’s always got something cool going on. Always has a cool idea. A very creative, fertile mind so I just love getting to do anything with him at all. I hope we have a lot of success with this and they’re going to be screaming for a follow-up. It would be kinda cool, like I mentioned earlier, the Mo and Joe, just a more cerebral version of Mo and Joe. No offense, Mo!”

When I asked if there is another “Love Me” in there between the two men, Raye chimed in first.

Collin: “Wouldn’t that be sweet?”

Max: “It would be amazing. You know, ‘Love, Me’ or the songs of that era, I’m not sure that they would go or that they CollinRaye Approved Publicity Photo reducedwould make it. I think there were so many things that lined up for us on that song. We don’t want to forget Skip Ewing as a writer on that song, too. The lay of the land was just right for it. Collin’s an amazing artist. He did a perfect job on it. It was produced wonderfully. He was with a great label who could put it out there. A year later or a year before or a five or ten or nine, I don’t know if it would’ve worked. But we had that one, didn’t we?”

Collin: “We had that one! I’ve heard people say, too, like we were talking a few minutes ago about doing an album. If you could get onto a major label and someone wanted to do an album with retro artists or whatever, and the say, ‘Wouldn’t you love to have another hit?’ and you go, ‘I got plenty. I got plenty of ‘em. I got more than I can play in a show.’

Max: “That’s when you’ve done well.”

Collin: “We don’t play half of them! We play the big ones. The ones people want the most, you know? I don’t know even know what a hit would look like today. It would probably be an internet hit. The window of country radio is so small now. I mean, some of them are playing ten songs; twenty at the most. It’s not like in the old days. I don’t even know if Max came up with a song like that again, where the home would be for it. Online, iTunes that promote that. And great things can happen from that. It really is like the wild west. You don’t really know what to do. So, let’s just throw stuff out there and see what happens.

“Right now, a song like ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead has a pretty good upside of what it could do worldwide because it’s fun but it’s clever. Like I said, I think it’s going to do really well in Europe. You never know what might happen here. Because, this thing here I’m pointing to – laptop – it levels the playing field for the entire planet. Everybody’s got one. Most people do. And the internet is there for everybody. So, you just never know.”

Max: “Love, Me’ is a good case of this, not to keep going back to it. ‘Love, Me’ took off and it was very big. It went five or ten years. It had this very, very long tail where it’s played, now, a lot, still even. Somebody said on Facebook the other day, ‘Would you rather write a number one song that people kinda forgot,’ which I’ve written those, too – ‘or would you like to write a number thirty song for Glenn Campbell in 1967.’ Well, that number thirty song was ‘Gentle on My Mind’, which is the most performed song of all time. So, in the end, they one. Imagine the airplay on something that’s been played 7, 8, 10 million times or more.”

Collin: “I’ve had a lot of number ones and a lot of number one parties but several of those – I can name two or three number ones that I had and you’d go, ‘huh?’. But, ‘That’s My Story (And I’m Sticking To It’ - the Lee Roy Parnell and Tony Haselden song. I think it peaked at number 6. Next to ‘Love, Me,’ that song everybody knows. It will keep on going – it became kind of a catch phrase with people. The number? It’s always beautiful when it happens but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to last.”

As to what kind of album would these two legends would like to make that they haven’t done yet – individually or together, Collin answered first.

Collin: “I always have these pet projects in my head of records I’d like to do. I love the creative process of  making new music. So, right now, I’ve redone the greatest hits called, ‘The Big Twenty-Five – Twenty-Five Hits. Twenty-Five Years.” We re-cut everything, which was a chore. That’s coming out hopefully the first of December.

“I’d love to do a bluegrass album. Why? To show that I can. My thing as a singer, I consider myself a chameleon. I like to do different things just to prove to myself that I can because I won’t make a record that I don’t think is quality. I wouldn’t do anything just to cash in on whatever. I’d like to make a really cool bluegrass album because I love bluegrass music and I’ve never got to ever record any of it. I’d like that. I think that would be a challenge for me. Singing bluegrass music, it’s putting to the side everything I’ve learned to be a singer over the years. It’s a whole different thing and I’d love to try that.

“Also, to do a big band album, which is a total opposite of what I just described. Why? Because I can. I love to be that sorta guy, ‘Oh, Collin can sing anything.’ Our shows, we do a couple of rock and roll covers towards the end because it excites the crowd. I always pick songs that I don’t think anyone else can sing. If you’re going to do a Bob Seger cover, don’t do ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’. Don’t do that. Do something like – we do, ‘Get Out of Denver’ or ‘Rock and Roll Never Forgets’ just so that people will go, ‘Wow! I didn’t know he could do that!’ That’s not an ego thing. I feel that’s the kind of thing that keeps me fresh. ‘Not only can he still sing his songs, you never know what he’s gonna do.’

“I could do some records like that and then I would love to do another kind of an Americana record like Don Henley did – Cass County. Even he – this rock icon – wants to be in that world. I would like to make a record – tap into my favorite writers and say, ‘What’s something that you don’t think anybody else will cut but you think is a really, really good song. Let me cut it’ and make a record like that with no vision of trying to get radio. Nothing like that. Just make a really good album full of great songs and I think my fan base would love that. So that would be the new music record that I would like to make. Those other projects would be just fun little sidebars I know people would love.”

Max: “I’m gonna stick with country. My fan base is in Europe. I’m over there a lot. I have a home full time there now. Ireland. People tell me – I’m hooked up with some of the people in the business like I am here – probably the top guy over there was just over here last week and he said, ‘They’re sending us music people country to country we don’t want.’ That’s why the anonymity. It’s not that they’re bad. It’s just not who they want. They want country music. They want that good ol’ Don Williams that just gets your heart with the thud of a kick drum. I grew up with that stuff, stuff. So, I’m gonna stick to with that and try to give them what they want because I love it, too.”

As I stated earlier, both men have been in the country music business a very long time. With so much accomplished, I asked both of them how they want to be remembered and what they hope their legacy is after they’ve left this earth.

Max: “I’ll jump right in there. I raised two great kids. I stayed married my whole life. The rest of it, you can have.”

Collin: “I agree. I’m not married but I’m really, really proud of my kids and I’ve got an awesome granddaughter. That’s my world. I think everybody has an identity. I think that’s where so many people go wrong, today. They don’t have an identity, so they turn to gangs or drugs or whatever because they don’t know who they are. They don’t know what they’re supposed to be. You have to see yourself what you see yourself as. And, like Max, I don’t see myself as an entertainer. That’s just my job. Ken Craig had told me at one time – he managed me for a while – and he said, ‘Your career is not your life. It’s a means to a better life.’ I think as long as you see yourself – what would you want on your epitaph. What would you want on your tombstone, it’s not going to have anything about music or anything. I hope my family loves me. They love spending time with me. And I hope people always say, ‘He was a great dad and granddad, you know? And let the music – which is a whole separate entity – live and breathe on its own and that’s up to the public whether how long something’s going to be remembered.

“I think back on some people – some great people. I’m a big history guy. I’ll be reading about somebody who did something just earth-shattering that we needed. We homeschool Maddy and I teach history and social studies and I was teaching her this week about the industrial revolution – Eli Whitney and Jethro Tull. Not Ian Anderson’s band but the guy who invented these farm implements that changed the world forever.

“Let’s use him, for instance. When you think of Jethro Tull. If you’re a classic rock guy like me, you go, ‘Oh! Ian Anderson. Martin Barre. A great band!’ It’s like, ‘No! No! No! They named that band after a guy that changed the way we eat food and changed the way we produce food. But, he’s forgotten’ And What he did was far more important than anything I’d ever done. Eli Whitney making the cotton gin was way more important than my contribution to humanity. But he’s kind of forgotten, you know? There’s people who don’t know who Napoleon was.

“So, glory, as General Patton said, is fleeting. It comes and it goes and, so, you can’t put any emphasis or any value on that or what the work you did. That’s just going to be what it is.”

You can keep up with Collin at his website, CollinRaye.com, and with Max at MaxTBarnes.com.