Rodney Crowell has a wonderful e-Rolodex, and it’s on show in a brand new compilation album, “Songs From Quarantine Vol. 1,” which has an all-star forged of singer-songwriter, nation and Americana VIPs sending in tracks from their very own splendid isolation.
Six of the 13 artists represented — Ry Cooder, Elvis Costello, Joe Henry, Ronnie Dunn, John Hiatt and Crowell himself — contribute authentic songs which have by no means been launched earlier than in any context. The remaining seven provide demos or in any other case stripped-down or alternate variations of numbers they’ve put out in full type earlier than, with Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Keith City, Jeff Tweedy, Rosanne Money, Steve Earle and Taj Mahal rounding out the visitor checklist. (Obtain the album right here.)
The “Quarantine” assortment, accessible digitally on Bandcamp for $13 for the following two weeks, advantages a charity Crowell has rounded up assist for for years — the Music Well being Alliance, which aids struggling musicians worldwide and which, like most orgs of its variety, has been pressed to supply help to these struggling with COVID-19 to its earlier lists of medical and psychological help. “They’re angels in denim over there,” Crowell tells Selection concerning the trigger.
When he started calling up buddies, he notes that Cooder took the potential title most to coronary heart and “wrote a tune for the instances,” sending again the album-opening “Child Began Carrying Her Masks.” “I simply stated, hey, are you able to contribute one thing to this compilation that I’m making? I feel I’m gonna name it ‘Songs From Quarantine’ — that’s type of the concept, as a result of we do have time on our fingers. And Ry despatched it to me and stated, ‘Inform me when you like this.’” Cooder’s semi-comic acoustic blues quantity consists of pro-masking verses like: “Now in the event that they discover a good vaccine, there’s one factor on my thoughts / Some people will get it however some people gonna be left behind / And if the president stated it’s time to social gathering prefer it’s 1932 / Simply inform him thanks so much however you need to be excused” (apparently reflecting having been penned within the waning months of the earlier administration).
Oddly sufficient, Costello’s contribution might also extra subtly name-check the Thirties; his new “Maud Gone Mistaken” appears to reference the Spanish revolution.
With Hiatt, Crowell says that represented the one time he gave one of many artists an instruction. “I didn’t actually get particular in any respect with anyone about” their tracks, he says. “I didn’t need to attempt to fuss. However I did inform John, ‘Hey John, now we have a preponderance of ballads, so in case you have something type of up-tempo, it’ll assist.” The end result was the sprightly — however nonetheless acoustic-based — “Goin’ Again to Nashville.”
Dunn, of Brooks & Dunn fame, didn’t get any such transient, however he went the additional mile energy-wise with “Practice to Glory, the one full-band observe on the comp. “Ronnie’s, I needed to put it on the finish of the sequence, as a result of it’s so large. The sequence goes out with a bang. They’re rocking a gospel tune the place they’re simply flat-out making a multitude,” Crowell laughs.
Crowell’s personal “She’s Again in City” is “one thing I virtually recorded that for my ‘Texas’ album, and as a matter of truth I took a swing at it, now that I point out it. However I didn’t prefer it as a lot as I did simply our little demo from my dwelling studio” with simply two guitars and a piano.
So far as self-covers go, Earle’s “Time Is By no means On Our Aspect” is a starker model of a quantity from 2020’s “Ghosts of West Virginia” album. “Steve recorded his on an iPhone. It sounds actually good, and we mastered it and there it’s. No person was wired making the music!”
Though Tweedy’s “Even I Can See” — additionally a tune that first appeared on a 2020 studio album — is the one observe particularly labeled as a demo, Crowell says, “He would possibly name it a demo, however every thing he does is a grasp, so far as I’m involved.”
Crowell does assume Williams’ rendition of “When the Method Will get Darkish” from her personal 2020 studio album is “most likely her authentic scratch recording of it, her authentic demo of the tune earlier than she recorded it.” Money’s model of “Western Wall,” in the meantime, a tune she beforehand recorded on each a Nineteen Nineties solo album and because the title observe of a subsequent joint undertaking with Linda Ronstadt, options the Milk Carton KIds and was recorded final Might for an episode of the latter duo’s net sequence “The Unhappy Songs Comedy Hour.” Harris’ “Gold” goes all the best way again, in its authentic type, to her career-changing “Wrecking Ball” album. City’s “Polaroid” is a quieter model of a tune he issued on his newest undertaking final fall.
Of the genesis of the album, Crowell says, “I’ve been on the Music Well being Alliance board for happening 5 years now. And my fundraising exercise began once I did barn dances and what have you ever to lift cash, however the manufacturing prices” have been stifling. “Then I’d hit on an concept the place I’d name upon performing artists that I do know to donate 5% of the web from certainly one of their reveals annually. I assumed, ‘If we do that, then no one has to do something aside from what they’re already doing. Solely the accountants must do any work.’ And that labored rather well then COVID got here round this yr and we have been all shut down, and I assumed, ‘Oh God, what do I do?’ That’s when it hit on me that I’d name up among the identical people who’ve been beneficiant with their time for Music Well being Alliance, and I stated, ‘This shouldn’t be a variety of work, seeing how we’re all quarantined. How about you dig out one thing from the archives or file one thing and make it so simple as you need to and we’ll have a compilation of songs from quarantine?’”
Although he doesn’t essentially need anybody to tarry, when you miss this two-week window that the album can be accessible digitally, all won’t be misplaced. “I feel after we do Bandcamp, we’ll most likely produce some CDs and go somewhat extra conventional. I’ve my very own label imprint, RC1, and we will put it on the market and nonetheless all of the funds go to Music Well being Alliance.”
A Vol. 2 is already within the works for later this yr. Crowell doesn’t need to point out everybody who’ll be on it, for the reason that tracks haven’t are available but, however he can say among the buddies whom he intentionally stalled until Vol. 2, as a result of he didn’t need the primary quantity to consist solely of BFFs — together with Vince Gill, Mary Gauthier and Beth Nielsen Chapman.
Crowell has been busy with extra than simply charity comps. “For my very own functions, COVID’s been good,” he says. “Truly I completed two albums. The primary one which we’re gonna launch later this yr, we had a variety of enjoyable making it. Then I received the bug and made one other!”
The complete “Quarantine” observe checklist:
- Ry Cooder – “Child Began Carrying Her Masks”
- Elvis Costello – “Maud Gone Mistaken”
- Emmylou Harris – “Gold”
- Jeff Tweedy – “Even I Can See” (Demo)
- Keith City – “Polaroid”
- Taj Mahal – “Sitting On Prime Of The World”
- Lucinda Williams – “When The Method Will get Darkish”
- Steve Earle – “Time Is By no means On Our Aspect”
- Rosanne Money with John Leventhal and The Milk Carton Youngsters – “Western Wall”
- Rodney Crowell – “She’s Again In City”
- Joe Henry – “Mission”
- John Hiatt – “Goin’ Again To Nashville”
- Ronnie Dunn – “Practice To Glory”