I Like Music NOVEMBER 2006 - by Jools Holland


Why should I do a record of country songs? Firstly, because I love these songs and I have been playing them all my life, and secondly, because Solomon Burke and I wrote a song called Moving Out To The Country and Solomon suggested to me doing a record of country songs in my style. What I have always loved about these songs was the way that they are so perfectly formed. Their melodies and lyrics hit us like an arrow hits a target. I would like to thank all the people who have contributed to this record and collaborated on the songs.

Darkness On The Face Of The Earth - KT Tunstall

I have always been a huge Willie Nelson fan and it was wonderful to find out that KT was too. KT is one of the great new voices of this century. She could sing any kind of song and make it sound good, but when she takes a great song like this one it becomes something else again. For high fidelity fans I would like to point out that there are two drummers on this. One on the left and one on the right. This is a very dangerous way to start a record.

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Richard Hawley

Richard was the guitar player in Pulp and has a brilliant solo career. I have known him for a long time as he would regularly sit in with my big band when we played in Sheffield over the years. He has a great knowledge of country, rhythm and blues, folk and roots music. There is a small pub in Sheffield where we would often go after hours and sing old songs. It was on one of these evenings that we both agreed that Hank Williams was probably one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Richard's father is a noted Sheffield musician and suggested simplifying it and changing the chords a little to make it our own. The mix of Richard's wonderful voice and the dreamy-like arrangement helped to re-invent one of Hank's great songs.

Moving Out To The Country - Solomon Burke

Solomon Burke is the king of soul who was also played a lot on country radio. After all, the king can visit other places when he wants. He is one of the greatest men I have ever met. He and I wrote this together and in many ways this was the catalyst for the whole record taking place.

She'll Have To Go and I Can't Stop Loving You - Lulu

These songs were originally sung by men but Lulu and her sister Edwina fondly recall how their mother would sing them with other women in the pubs and clubs of Glasgow. Lulu's voice is stunning. She is, without question, one of the great British belters of all time. In 1978 I saw James Booker singing I Can't Stop Loving You in New Orleans. I always remembered he put the verse in before the chorus and that's what we did with our version of I Can't Stop Loving You. These songs aren't performed in a country style, but in our own style.

For The Good Times and The Pilgrim - Bob Geldof

Bob has always been a great fan of Kris Kristofferson, who wrote these songs, and when he went to see Kris performing in London, Bob was blown away when Kris dedicated The Pilgrim to him.

Georgia On My Mind - India Arie

The first version I heard of this song was the Lionel Hampton Orchestra featuring the singer Pinocchio James. I wanted to get my orchestra to do an arrangement like this one but couldn't think whose voice would be right to bring it to life. India Arie was on Later and we were taking tea in my dressing room when she asked me to play something on the piano. Without thinking, I played a couple of chords and she started to sing Georgia. It was so wonderful, it gave me the shivers. She told me she had always loved the song as that was where she was from. I told her about our arrangement we had. She was very busy promoting her record that subsequently went on to be a number one in America, but so liked the idea of recording the song, that she came over and we put it down in one take in Greenwich late one Monday night. Stevie Wonder has often said that India Arie has one of the most brilliant voices. Once again, Stevie Wonder is right.

Dreaming My Dreams With You - Brian Eno

Many people will know Brian Eno for his famous, and magical, sonic landscaping where he creates wonderful sounds. As he did in Roxy Music and when producing U2. Not so many people know him as a singer and country fan. He played me Waylon Jennings singing this song and then we came in the studio, and with Brian's genius we reinvented it. What a wonderful singer and artist Brian is.

You Win Again - Mark Knopfler

Squeeze used to play in Deptford with Dire Straits and again, it would be after hours that a lot of these country songs would get played in the little pubs in Greenwich and Deptford. Mark has long been a country fan and just finished his own country album with Emmylou Harris. We returned to the master that we both love, Hank Williams.

Misty Blue - David McAlmont

We first performed this song on one of our New Year's shows with David and at the time, everyone was very taken with it. I was recently writing with him and we agreed that it seemed a shame that his version of this song had only been heard the once, on New Year's Eve. I am delighted that we had the opportunity to record it here when everyone is slightly less tired and emotional.

I Wish I Was 18 Again and Friends Not Lovers - Tom Jones

A couple of years ago I made a record with Tom. It was one of the most enjoyable records I have ever made because Tom is such great company and so fantastic in the studio. I was so pleased and honoured when it went platinum that I hoped we would be able to do a little more, and I am pleased to say, here we have. He and I wrote Friends Not Lovers and were thinking of it as a duet but once we heard Tom singing it we thought it was best just to leave it to him. The other song, Tom found. One of his early hits was Green Green Grass Of Home which Tom had found on an obscure Jerry Lee Lewis b-side. I Wish I Was 18 Again comes from the same source.

Sweet Dreams - Louise Marshall

Louise Marshall has been working with my orchestra more and more. We are all very happy for her, as although she is still on tour with us, early next year she is going to have a baby. When we talked about doing this song we agreed the style we wanted to approach it from was that of a Schubert song, from the 19th century. Something she could sing as a lullaby. I think we will be hearing a lot more of Louise.

Games People Play - Marc Almond

We've toured with Marc a lot and he always delivers a stunning performance. He chose this song and I think it's wonderful to be taken to a slightly different zone.

Take These Chains From My Heart - Paul Carrack

For me, and I hope for you the listener, this is a perfect example of a great country song sung by a man who, I believe, is in possession of one of the most beautiful voices of all time. The simplicity and the charm of this, had Gilson Lavis (drums) and Mark Flanagan (guitar) gently dancing in the studio when they heard the playback of it. There's nothing to it, but at the same time, everything.

It Aint Gonna Worry My Mind - Ruby Turner

Many of you will be familiar with Ruby as she is the boogie woogie queen of my orchestra. Ruby always sings from the heart and communicates a song like no-one else I know. When she sings the line about springtime in England, I can smell the flowers and feel the sun.

Dead Hosts Welcome - Dr. John

Dr. John and I are now old friends and have written quite a few things together. I spoke to him on the phone about what I was trying to do and he reminded me that the roots of this music come from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. The words and the melodies and the themes would have been heard by people in the fields and taverns of our island's counties many centuries ago. I found an old 17th century song by an unknown author called The Dead Hosts Welcome and we based our song on this, and added a touch of gris gris.

Feel Like Going Home - Sam Brown

Charlie Rich wrote this song. For the un-initiated, along with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, he was one of the great recording figures of Sun Studios in Memphis. His demo of this is one of Paul McCartney's favourite pieces of music with just his voice and piano making a beautiful, and rather vulnerable, sound. It's been recorded with big orchestras and arrangements a number of times, but Sam and I wanted to take it back to it's original and simple form.

Rocket To The Moon, Where Do I Go From Here and Boogie Woogie Country Girl - Jools Holland

Boogie Woogie Country Girl was really only a country song in it's lyrical content and was belted out by the greatest blues shouter of all time, Big Joe Turner. It got all of our boogie muscle twitching so we felt compelled to include it in this record. A friend heard Rocket To The Moon and said 'that's got a Jerry Lee vibe to it'. This is perhaps because it was by one of Jerry Lee's influences, Moon Mulligan. Moon was one of the great western swing characters, like Bob Willis or later, Merrill E Moore. These were great touring bands who had boogie woogie numbers in their set that were the forerunners of rockabilly and rock'n'roll.

Rocket To The Moon was banned on some radio stations back in the 40's because of the suggestive content of the lyrics. I would draw the listener's attention to the sound of the trombones and trumpets and voices of the rhythm and blues orchestra on the last chorus, which I think, if the authorities notice, will also be banned from modern radio. Where Do I Go From Here, Van Morrison inspired me to write this song after a remark he made to a journalist after performing with Ray Charles.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and more importantly, thank you for listening.