PM: By the time you came aboard, had Ed cut any tracks already, or did you begin that process together?
DM: Well, I'll put it this way: if more had been cut, I'm not aware of it, except one: Janis Ian's track had been done.
PM: One of the other standout tracks on the record, for sure.
DM: Yeah, definitely. It's unbelievably beautiful. And the fact that she did it a capella, it cuts right to the bone.
PM: And she changes keys several times in her rendition.
DM: Right, and effortlessly. [laughs]
PM: And her intonation is perfect.
PM: I believe, if you put a scope on it, you'd find she's dead-on. I mean, it's awesome.
DM: Yeah, it really is. Certainly, in terms of the idea and the formation of the idea, I wasn't there from the beginning. But pretty much from the beginning of the actual "who's going to do what, what songs are we going to do," I was. Ed obviously had some ideas coming in, but I feel like we shared equally pretty much from that point on.
PM: Did Janet Reno have any of her own artists on that wish list?
DM: Not really. But it's funny--she doesn't remember this, but she actually suggested Iron & Wine, not having any idea who Iron & Wine is.
DM: But Sam [Beam, reviewed coincidentally in this issue], from Iron & Wine, or basically who is Iron & Wine--
DM: --was a teacher. And being that this whole album was conceived as an educational project, she had read about that and brought it up to Ed and said, "We might want to get this artist"--not knowing anything about them or whatever. And Ed reminded her of that later.
PM: Nobody knew how hip she was, yeah.
DM: Well, she didn't even know how hip she was. But Ed brought it up to her later, and she was like, "I don't remember that at all." But I do. And I think we did throw a line in the water, but...
PM: But Sam Beam couldn't get on the project for one reason or another, or didn't bite on the line.
DM: I don't remember what kind of response we got back from his camp, to be honest.
PM: Were there many contacted that did not or could not come aboard?
DM: Yeah. There were definitely a lot of lines thrown out where the fish did not bite. I'd say more in the pop rock world. This is just my thing--I mean, I love the album the way that it is, but one of the things that I wanted to do, not only to broaden its commercial appeal but also because I wanted it to be reflective of America, I mean, I really wanted an album--honestly, and I'm not kidding, I wanted an album that would have both Hilary Duff and Devendra Banhart on it. To me, that's America.
PM: Right. I hear that.
DM: But with none of those pop artists did we get any kind of traction whatsoever. Likewise with the straight-ahead successful and/or commercial Country artists. Being in Nashville, I would have hoped that we could have gotten--
PM: Oh, you threw Country lines in the water that didn't come back.
DM: Oh, yeah.
PM: [with country accent] "This is America we're talking about, people."
DM: Right. But to be honest be you--and there was one artist who is pretty popular--I'm not going to name names--one artist that was willing to do it, but his producer apparently didn't want to unless he was going to get paid his normal amount. This is a charity-type project, I mean, the proceeds are going to nonprofits. And apparently the artist was in the studio cutting, and it was just one of those kind of--
PM: It could have been so easy.
DM: It could have been so easy, and it would have been a great thing, and I think the artist actually wanted to do it.
PM: All you had to do was throw one more chart up on the stand and say, "Here, okay, let's just take this."
PM: That's gross.
DM: It is gross. And there were a couple other gross moments when it came to sort of the commercial country thing. It was disappointing, and I would have loved to have had somebody on that, because like I said, we wanted it to be an album where the music was all great and it was very diverse in its--I mean, as it is, it's really diverse.
DM: But I would have loved for a few more sort of like quote, unquote, popular--obviously we've got artists on there that are popular, but when I say "popular" I mean in the pop music sense.
DM: I would have loved to have gotten a few of those on there.
PM: Were any artists, for instance, so fed up with the current regime that a project like this was not on their radar at this time?
DM: No, I don't think so. If it was, I wasn't aware of it.
PM: Right. Didn't get that comment back.
DM: Yeah, and this may be a good jumping off point, or a good segue to talk about the politics. continue