Quantcast
BOYS OF SUMMER
6-1-5
Don Henley’s Nashville Listening Party

You know it’s a big deal when Don Henley parts the waves of Nashville as CMA Music Fest kicks in, premiering cuts from his Capitol debut, Cass County. I.R.S. Nashville head John Grady introduced Henley’s star-heavy project at exclusive event space Ruby last Thursday (6/11), noting, “He’s been working on this for 15 years, but if you listen, these are songs he’s been writing for a lifetime.”

On hand to hear the decidedly Americana/roots country songs was a who’s who. CAA’s Rob Light, Country Music Foundation chief Kyle Young, Grand Ole Opry GM Pete Fisher, SiriusXM The Highway’s John Marks, USA Today’s Brian Mansfield, iHeartMedia’s John Ivey, Americana Music Association leader Jed Hilley, The Boston Globe’s Sarah Rodman, CMT’s John Hamlin, historian Robert K. Oermann, co-producer Stan Lynch and a delegation from NARAS

The first song was Tift Merritt’s “Bramble Rose,” with Miranda Lambert and Mick Jagger taking a verse each. In the aching song of a woman yearning to live, Lambert, singing in her midrange, recalls Linda Ronstadt in her prime, while Jagger pays supreme homage to Gram Parsons.

The other cover enlists Dolly Parton, who’s in classic form—lighter than sunshine, pure as crystal—on the Louvin Brothers’ “When I Stop Dreaming,” which she once sang with Porter Waggoner. Steel drenches the melody in a song of two people lost in the same heartache—recalling vintage Wurlitzer country. 

“The Cost of Living,” a duet with Merle Haggard, is a man’s truth—honest and strong. The tug and resolve in Henley’s voice is deepened by Haggard’s supple baritone for a serious look at what life is made of.

Henley also teams with Lucinda Williams for the autobiographical “Train in the Distance,” a recollection of restlessness waiting to be realized and the lessons learned in hindsight. "You can ride that train to the far end of creation. Away from everything and everyone you know. You better make friends with your angels and your demons. They will be riding with you wherever you may go. But, you have to go."

Other guests include Vince Gill, Allison Krauss, Trisha Yearwood, Lee Ann WomackMolly Felder, Martina McBride, Ashley Monroe

This isn't Henley's first foray into
cowboy country.
 

Talking to MTSU Music Industry Chair Beverly Keel in an interview after a quick break for more Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc, barbecue turkey and three kinds of grits, Henley explained to the assembled movers and shakers that even though he’s associated with California, he was born and raised in a small, struggling Texas county, which informs his work. 

He referenced listening with his father to The Louisiana Hayride, “where the bad boys who got kicked off the Opry played,” spoke knowingly of Buck Owens’ guitarist/harmony singer Don Rich and expressed gratitude to all the players by noting John Sebastian got it right with 1967’s “Nashville Cats.”

But he hasn’t lost the classic Henley edge. When asked what he wants people to know about Cass County, he quipped, “It’s for sale.” Later he sidestepped how it feels to be a country influence with the rejoinder, “Depends on which part.” 

Regardless, Henley has tendered the work of a lifetime: considering his roots without pandering, evoking country without irony or investing in today’s radio. These are grown-up songs for people who’ve lived life, seeking understanding of where they’ve been and how it feels.

THE GRAMMY NOMS: A PRELIMINARY CHEW
"Uh-huh" vs. "huh?" (11/20a)
AND THE NOMINEES ARE...
The list. (11/20a)
A TOP 20 OF TITANIC PROPORTIONS
Best enjoyed with a good belt. (11/20a)
SONY'S BIG WEEK
And that was before the Grammy deluge. (11/20a)
DABABY IN GERSON'S CRIB
Talk about pub crawling. (11/20a)
THE GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
They're here. What do they mean?
U.K. SPECIAL
Forget Brexit--it's our yearly survey of doings in Blighty. And if you still can't forget Brexit, try drinking.
WHAT'S GOING ON BENEATH OUR WINDOWS?
The latest in Hollyweird.
WEED!
That's what Hollywood smells like. Seriously. 24/7.
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)