I played Carnegie Hall with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and we talked about recording together. So I said to myself, OK, I need to write a song for Kenny, and it needs to be an uptempo bluesy shuffle, a real stone blues. The lyrics could be about many different things. Say you’re a drug addict. You take your drugs, and it’s gonna feel good for a while, but as soon as you run out of drugs, it’s gonna hurt like hell. Or it could be that you could cheat on your wife: it’ll feel good for those ten minutes, then it’s gonna hurt like hell, if you have a conscience, right? I think that Kenny played great on there. Especially the ending, when we’re trading back and forth. It’s hard to tell who’s who. I think our tones and approach are very similar. We really complemented each other on that track.
Ain’t Goin’ Back (ft. Sonny Landreth)
I will preface this by saying that Sonny Landreth is the greatest slide guitarist in the history of the world. There’s nobody can touch him, I don’t care who you bring up. You have Sonny – then you have everybody else. We’d done a bunch of gigs together and we’d talked about doing this. So I’m like, OK, what do I write for this guy. He’s done a lot of blues songs, but he’s from Louisiana and he’s done a lot of second line stuff. He’s really a New Orleans musician, y’know? So I messed around with different grooves, and came up with a bluesy, almost 50s-esque Americana song. For the lyrics, I went back to a theme of mine that turns up a lot, which is that I did a lot of stupid things in my youth, and I’m not gonna do them again. Sonny is such a down-to-earth, humble guy – in fact, he sent me his track, then called
and said, I don’t know if it’s any good. If you want me to do it over, I won’t be insulted. I listened to it and I was like, What are you talking about, man – it’s f*cking great!
The Other Side Of The Pillow (ft. Charlie Musselwhite)
I’ve known Charlie since I was with Mayall, but I grew up listening to his records when I was still in high school. Just to have him agree to play was an honour. He
s one of the all-time-great bluesmen. Along with Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, Charlie was one of the white students in Chicago in the early 60s who started going to black blues clubs and hanging out and jamming with Muddy Waters, Elmore James, etc. My friend, the great keyboard player/singer/song writer, Richard T. Bear, called me up and he said, I have a blues verse, you want to do something with it? So he sent me this tape. It was him playing
this slow-blues, and he sang, I’m gonna make love to another woman, because you made love to another man. And I said, Man, that’s really a good blues song
. So I used his verse, Charlie wrote the second verse, and I wrote the third verse and came up with the groove.
She Listens To The Blackbird Sing (ft. Mike Zito)
That was a gas to record. I was getting ready to drive to the studio and I sat down with my acoustic guitar and that melody just came out. So we had the basic track, and then I had to go back and write words. I didn’t know who was going to do that song, but Mike Zito and I go way back: he credits me with sobering him up, and I’m happy to have been a part of that. I originally had him play slide, but when he sent it back, I listened to it with Eric Corne and we realised the slide didn’t really fit. So we called Mike back and said, We think this song would be better if you just use fingers and play regular guitar. And he said, You know something, I agree with you. That, I think, is my favourite cut on the record, and a lot of it is due to the playing of Skip Edwards, who’s a genius keyboards player and an old friend of mine from South Jersey. What Skip did to that song is remarkable. We gave him the raw track and he took it out to the stratosphere.