419T56ZJWXL._SL500_AA300_In 1997, I was enjoying my 8th year with Buddy Guy and had started my own band back home in Nashville. One night playing a gig, I caught the ear of a Nashville entrepreneur who wanted to take a shot at getting into the recording business. He approached me about making a record and I jumped on the chance, provided I could record with my band and that we could play the music we wanted. He agreed and we were off!
A small studio in Nashville (a quick look at the liner notes reminded me that it was Fireside Studios and that our engineer was GEORGE CLINTON!) was reserved for a week and I went in with my band at that time; Derek Wiseman on Drums, Drew Wiseman on Keys and Chris Kent on Bass. In addition to my then guitar tech, Bobby Inman, that was it! We set up our gear and basically ripped through songs from our live set like Messing With The Kid and the Buddy Holly song Not Fade Away. Another song we did was the George Jones classic He Stopped Loving Her Today. that song had worked it’s way into our set as a joke one night. we were playing to a pretty hard core Blues/Rock crowd and had been banging them up pretty good all night. We used to play REALLY loud back then. Sort of as a joke, I started playing and singing; “He said I’ll love you ’til I die…” and the place went crazy! In my little mind I thought; “hmmm” and sang the next line; “she said you’ll forget in time…” the band kicked in at just the right moment (they always did) and we were off. After Buddy heard me doing it one night he tried to get me to do it every night when we were on the road! My mind wasn’t open enough at that time to realize that George Jones was a Blues man! I know it now.
Let me try and describe how hot that band was; We never had a set list. We never had a rehearsal. Rehearsals consisted of being in the dressing room at 3rd & Lindsley or wherever and me asking the band if they knew the Stevie Wonder tune I Wish. Then we’d go out and open with it and play it for 20 minutes with out any mistakes or hiccups. I truly think I could wake those guys from a dead sleep and count off a song and they’d hit it perfect. We’d shift from one song to the next with out even stopping to discuss what was next. No keys ever called out. Just listen and play. One night we played 4 hours straight with no breaks at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville. A lady actually scolded me when we were through because she said it wasn’t fair to the people who wanted to buy a drink or go to the bathroom because we wouldn’t give them a break. That band was truly a gem that deserved to be heard by more ears than they were.
I had written some new tunes like How Do We Sleep and Ain’t Gonna Be Your Fool that I was pretty proud of and we just did one or two takes of each song. I remember playing the demo of Ain’t Gonna Be Your Fool for my dad right before he passed away, so that was really the only song that I’ve written that he got to hear. Wow! I just realized that!
Being that it was 17 years ago now, my memories of the sessions are pretty fragmented but I remember really enjoying making that music with my friends, all of whom were way better musicians than me and I really appreciated the opportunity to bask in their talent and be lifted up. I remember Chris came up with the intro to Let’s Straighten It Out and every bass player after him had trouble playing that lick. I’m sure he got a good laugh out of that!
My strongest memories of the sessions were that we would start in the evenings about 6 and go until 2 or 3 in the morning. Bobby and I always rode together to the studio and afterwards we would go to Mary’s BBQ on Jefferson St. in Nashville. Mary’s was awesome back in those days; a walk up window that stayed open until 4 or 5 in the morning and had killer ribs! No tables, so you had to just eat them in your car but it was WORTH IT! Yes, 17 years ago I could eat a slab of ribs at 3:00 AM and suffer no consequences!
I remember shooting the photos for the cover and I was wearing my leather jacket…and it was summer…in Nashville…I think I lost 20lb. while we were shooting. If you see the individual photos of the band on the inside, you can see poor Chris is sweating too! It was HOT! Old #1 had nary a scratch on her at that time. On the cover, I’m actually standing in a dry creek bed. The inside background under the lyrics was actually the grill cloth from my Fender Super Reverb that I used back then. I still have that amp although at some point I painted it purple and swapped the grill cloth for leopard print! I can hear the collective groan of all you amp collectors out there, shut up! It’s my amp!
My other really strong memory is being encouraged to do a version of Jimi Hendrix’ Who Knows. I’m not really proud of my version of that song because I honestly didn’t have my heart into it. Jimi’s music is very precious and important to me and at that time I was reluctant to do something that I thought might diminish his songs somehow. As it turned out, that particular song was what got the attention of Billy Cox and inspired him and Mitch Mitchell to agree to record Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) with me on my second record; Dark Of The Night but that’s another story…