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Jim Lauderdale

A Conversation with Jim Lauderdale

Puremusic: It's amazing that our schedules and life are so crazy that we're doing this interview at 11:10 at night. How did your rehearsal go tonight?

Jim Lauderdale: It was fine.

PM: It was a bluegrass rehearsal, obviously. And that's what you're playing tomorrow night?

JL: Yeah.

PM: Good. I'll be there. Well, it's another double release occasion, Jim. That's unbelievable. What moves you to do it that way?

JL: Well, I didn't put out anything last year. But I've got some I'm working on. So I didn't want to hold up the bluegrass album, for instance, for another couple of years.

PM: Right.

JL: I want to kind of keep on track with my released stuff.

PM: Are both of the albums on Yep Roc, or just the country album?

JL: Yeah, both of them.

PM: So that's amazing that you struck a deal with Yep Roc, and they're releasing two albums at one time in two different styles. I mean, that's a good start with a new company.

JL: Oh, yeah, I'm really pleased that they were willing to do that.

PM: How did that deal come together? Who put that together?

JL: Well, I did. I mean, I've known Glenn Dicker for years. He was in charge of a company called Upstart that released a record of mine called Persimmons.

PM: Oh, he put out Persimmons.

JL: Yeah. So we've known each other, and we've talked about putting out a record again. For several years he's wanted to work with me again, and I wanted to work with him. And just finally the timing was right.

PM: Oh, that's amazing, because that can be a really good company.

JL: Oh, yeah.

PM: And I love that, on this double release occasion, they're two different styles, one country and one bluegrass. I like them both a lot. But let's talk about the country one first.

JL: Okay.

PM: The first thing that grabs you is that almost all the tunes were co-written and co-produced by Odie Blackmon.

JL: Yeah.

PM: I don't know a thing about the man. So I hope you'll acquaint us with him, taking it from the top.

JL: Okay. Well, I've known Odie for several years. And we started a song a few years ago, and our schedules didn't permit us to finish it. He wrote a song last year that did really well called "I May Hate Myself in the Morning, But I'm Going to Love You Tonight."

PM: Oh, lord. That's a great song. Who did he write that with?

JL: He wrote it alone.

PM: Oh.

JL: So that was a big song for him. And we finally got together, oh, gee, I guess it was about last January. And we just really started churning things out. We'd get together and sometimes write two or three songs.

PM: Wow.

JL: But we wrote about, I don't know, forty-six songs, I think--

PM: [laughs]

JL: --this year.

PM: Together you wrote forty-six songs last year?

JL: Yeah.

PM: That's unbelievable.

JL: And I just decided I really wanted to do--we clicked so well when we were writing, and when we'd go in the studio and do stuff, I really liked his producing sensibilities. So I wanted him to co-produce this record, because he does a great job. Had a guy mix it named Chip Matthews. He's really mixed a lot of the big hit records currently coming to Nashville.

PM: Right.

JL: And yeah, I really have enjoyed this process, he's really, really a great guy. We've become good friends.

PM: Is he more or less a contemporary?

JL: I think, yeah.

PM: And where is he from?

JL: He's from Arkansas, originally. And he lived out in L.A., and said he used to come to the Palomino a lot when I'd play out there. There's a big country scene out there.

PM: Right. But you didn't meet him until you came to town?

JL: Yeah.

PM: Wow. So tell me about that first song together, the first one you finished. Can you remember what the first one was that you did?

JL: No. I'd have to look. I'm so fried right now I can't think of it.

PM: Yeah. And if you wrote forty-fix songs last year with him, it's no wonder you can't remember which was the first one.

JL: Yeah. Well, one good thing that happened is out of the first batch of songs that we wrote, Gary Allan recorded one cut, "Tough All Over," and made it the title track of his last album.

PM: Wow.

JL:  Also, Lee Ann Womack is cutting one called "Slow Boat to China" which is going to be on her next record. I'm not sure exactly when that's coming out.

PM: That's a great title.

JL: But dang it, now I can't remember that very first song we wrote. But it's not one that's on the current record.

PM: What's your process with him like? Is it different with everybody, or more the same with everybody? What is it like when you guys sit down?

JL: It's different with everybody that I write with. But with him, we just sit and start talking. And one of us--sometimes one of us will already have an idea, and we'll play it for the other. And then if it clicks, then we pursue it. It's very much of an equal collaboration. But it's real fun to do that, it really brings a lot to the table.

PM: On this country record, the only two that you didn't write with him are "She's Got Some Magic Going On" with Shawn Camp, and the great one with Leslie Satcher, "I Met Jesus in a Bar."

JL: [laughs] Yeah.

PM: Let's hear the story on that Leslie co-write, please.

JL: Well, that one was written October--it will be two years ago. And my dad had gotten ill the summer before and passed away--

PM: Oh, I remember...

JL: --in September. It happened very quickly. And I was pretty slow to get back in the swing of things writing-wise. But Leslie and I did write that October, and finished one song. And then she came back in the room and said, "Hey, I've got this great title for a song, "I Met Jesus in a Bar." And I thought, well, I don't know. That doesn't--you know, I don't know, I just...

PM: "I don't know if I hear that," yeah.

JL: And then she said, "No, look, really go with me on this."  And so we did. And it was just real emotional for us writing that song. And she was right, definitely. As a matter of fact, I just did a video of it, it was in the desert in California, at a cool place, kind of around this club I've played at a good bit through the years, called Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, in Pioneertown, California. It's out on the way to Joshua Tree, off of Yucca Valley. So yeah, I did a video of that, and hopefully it will be out fairly soon.

PM: That's an amazing song. Who thought of that second line? ["I guess you just can't fall too far..."]

JL: I can't remember. She probably did. She's really amazing.

PM: You guys have written some terrific songs together.

JL: Yeah, all kinds. We've written a fair amount together.


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