You had thought about doing a record like this fifteen years, so why was now finally the right time?
Well, I think I got to a point, where probably everybody in every profession gets to, where I had done everything that I wanted to do when I started….but I didn’t want to stop. I made a lot of different kinds of records, I had made honky-tonk records, quiet records, dark records, light records and ones that were a little more rock and I started to feel that the whole concept of making a record was getting a little bit predictable.
Nashville is a great environment. We have a great studio and there’s a lot of very good, accomplished musicians here who are really willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and do the best they can for you. I don’t sell a lot of records and I’m not in the studio as much as some people, but after twenty years we’re all pretty good, pretty competent, at making records. I got to the point where I thought I wanted to shake things up a bit and make a record that wasn’t going to fit into the same kind of frame that most records do.
It’s a record that is definitely done in an incredibly creative and unique manner. Many times when people pay tribute to another artist they simply cover their songs; you approached it from a totally different direction.
When the idea came into my head, I thought ‘Well, that’s an unusual idea’, but it also seemed very meaty, something with a lot of heft to it, more so than the typical record. I think the writer in me is always looking for a challenge, for a different way of writing songs. I still love Rock and Roll and will always want to write Rock and Roll songs, but that’s a real narrow framework.
The idea for this album came into my head a long time ago when I became enchanted with Jimmie’s recordings, one in particular that he did with a blues guitar player named Clifford Gibson, who is not very well known but is a very accomplished player. They just seemed to hit it off in a way that was very joyful and it got me thinking about Jimmie. I had read his biography and loved his music, but I enjoyed thinking about him and his story. It was a great time period not only for music but for art and architecture as well; it was like the beginning of the modern world….and Jimmie was a modern guy.
One of the things that made it fun for me was that I was okay if I couldn’t get it done. Originally, we recorded two songs and they came out really well and we were all very happy with them, but even then I thought that if this ends up being a single, or something I do over a long period of time that’s okay because the idea was strong enough…and everyone’s allowed a good idea. I knew that if I couldn’t finish it it wasn’t because it wasn’t a good idea, it was because the inspiration hadn’t hit me. But as you see, I kept going (laughing). I’m actually pleased that it's done and I don’t have to keep doing it (laughing).