Don McLean pays homage to American music with his new covers album, Still Playin’ Favorites, released today through Time Life. Spanning more than 100 years of songwriting, McLean assembled a treasury of music from country, folk, gospel, bluegrass, blues, jazz and soul for the album, performing them with a rock and roll twist. Don discusses several of the tracks in a new video series on his YouTube channel, including “Backwater Blues,” originally recorded by Bessie Smith in 1927.
“I just love writing songs and I love hearing songs by good writers that make sense and have lyrics that say something and that are pretty simple,” Don explains about the concept behind the album. “My version is just a little bit more rock and roll, a little harder-edged, with drums and double guitars,” he goes on to say about the classic blues and jazz song, “Backwater Blues.” When it came to recording “Got The Bull By The Horns,” originally performed by Johnny Horton, “I changed a few of the words, I hope he won’t mind,” McLean admits good-naturedly. The collection also features songs made famous by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Clyde Moody, Mel Tillis, Ray Charles, Mahalia Jackson, Elvis Presley, and more.
Still Playin’ Favorites is modeled after his first album of cover songs, Playin’ Favorites, a remarkable artistic statement for a young songwriter to release on the heels of his masterworks “American Pie” and “Vincent.” The new album extends his original tribute to the great songwriters who have helped shape American music and, in turn, McLean’s work.
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Still Playin' Favorites track listing:
01. So Doggone Lonesome (Johnny Cash)
02. Greenback Dollar (Hoyt Axton, Ken Ramsey)
03. Hide Nor Hair (Morton Craft, Percy Mayfield)
04. I Ain’t Never (Webb Pierce, Mel Tillis)
05. Little Sister (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman)
06. I’m Going To Live The Life I Sing About in My Song (Thomas A. Dorsey)
07. Six White Horses (Clyde Moody)
08. Treat Me Nice (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
09. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine) (Bob Dylan)
10. Backwater Blues (Bessie Smith)
11. The Keys to the Kingdom (Jenny Lou Carson)
12. Got The Bull By The Horns (Amos E. Byrd, Billy Jones)
13. Tell Old Bill (Traditional, Arranged by Don McLean)
14. She Used To Love Me A Lot (Charles W. Quillen, Dennis Morgan, Kye Fleming)