December 28, 1997 in Features

Jim Lauderdale To Release His First Hard-Core Country Album

Jack Hurst The Chicago Tribune
 

Jim Lauderdale, writer of some of Nashville’s impressive songs of the past few years, is soon to release a mainstream-aimed CD of his songs set to his own vocals.

Writer of eight George Strait tracks, including “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “King of Broken Hearts” as well as Mark Chesnutt’s “Gonna Get A Life,” Vince Gill’s “Sparkle,” Patty Loveless’ “Halfway Down” along with her current “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me,” Lauderdale has previously recorded his own albums for niche labels but none - especially not a hard-core country one - for a company the size of RCA.

And the songs on the forthcoming one, due in February, are co-composed by some of Nashville’s most noted writers.

“Originally I thought about writing all the songs for this by myself, but the experience of writing with some of country’s greatest writers is something most people never get to do,” says Lauderdale. “For me, that opportunity anchored me even more solidly to the roots of this music, and that connection inspired me in ways I had never even considered.

“After all, if you want to make a classic country album, why not go to the source? These folks are the people who’ve written a lot of the songs that’ve become standards.”

His co-writers here include facile tunesmiths Harlan Howard and Frank Dycus as well as one-time country singing star Melba Montgomery. And the final track is the Lauderdale-written “I’ll Lead You Home,” featuring vocal assistance by bluegrass giant Ralph Stanley and his Clinch Mountain Boys.

Lauderdale says he got inspiration for the song in California, recalling that he was “looking over the canyon down on the lights” and “thinking about a country boy who had come to the big city and things hadn’t worked out so well. He wanted to get home, but he’s not sure how to make the trip - until he hears a voice inside his head saying, ‘I’ll lead you home.”’

As for employing Ralph Stanley on the track, Lauderdale explains that he has been listening to Stanley since he was 13 and that one of his favorite songs is the Stanley Brothers’ rendition of “Rank Stranger.”

“I wanted to use Ralph Stanley’s band on the album ‘cause I knew no one else could capture the Ralph Stanley sound,” he explains. “I wanted to end the album with this song, because it’s a traveling song. It’s also about bringing me full circle, bringing me back to my roots.”

Hayes turns traditional

Wade Hayes’ new third CD, “When the Wrong One Loves You Right,” is also an attempt to deal with country tradition. The Oklahoma-born Hayes sees it as reflective of a more grown-up attitude in himself.

“One of my observations when we finished this album was how much more mature it sounded than my two previous projects,” Hayes says. “Some of that attitude stems from my getting close to 30, and I feel those gears changing. My tastes are changing a bit too, which may have something to do with the song selection this time around. I’m really happy with the way this album turned out.

“It’s harder and harder to find really great traditional songs. I like the old stuff so much, it’s tough for me to find great tunes without feeling that I’m compromising my music.”

Thompsons’ album in offing

The Thompson Brothers, a promising young band hailing from Boston by way of Nashville’s Belmont College, appears to be continuing its animal magnetism. The group’s initial recording effort, a six-song EP titled “Cows on Main Street,” is scheduled to be followed up Jan. 27 with a full album titled “Blame It on the Dog.”

Gilley enjoys Branson gigs

Some stars complain that playing Branson, Mo., on a day-to-day basis is an energy-sapping grind, but not Mickey Gilley.

Gilley, who opened his first theater there in 1990 and since has added a next-door restaurant, says he plans to keep up his Branson shows “as long as my health holds up.”


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