I talked to Lesley Hastings of Think Country recently about Mickey Newbury and The Night You Wrote That Song – here’s an excerpt:
LH I know that this album has been a labour of love and has been many years in the making. Would you say, in part, that is because reinterpreting another artist’s work brings with it added responsibility?GP There’s no question I felt a responsibility to do right by him. It was a daunting thought, partly because Mickey’s own records and performances were so stunning. Besides being a brilliant songwriter, he was a world-class singer and a great guitar player. So maybe that contributed to my taking my time to get the album done – but the main reason it took so long is that until I put out Dancing With The Beast I felt like I still had things that needed saying, songs and records of my own I needed to record. I felt, after Dancing came out, that I’d put out three really strong records in a row (starting with Hello Cruel World), and had nothing to prove to anyone, most importantly myself.LH But of course another reason is just the sheer volume of songs there were for you to choose from. Can you tell me how you went about selecting the twelve that finally made the cut?GP I knew from the start that I didn’t want to make a record of Newbury’s hits. The most important two things for me were 1) did I love the song and 2) did I feel like I could bring something to it? A lot of my favorite songs of his are not well known. I have loved “The Sailor” and “Leavin’ Kentucky”, for instance, for decades, and they’re both fairly obscure. It was freeing to forget about presenting some kind of representative survey of his songs and just choose the ones I wanted to sing. In the end, that’s the only thing you can do. It’s not like I’m improving on the originals, so it was best to choose the ones I feel most deeply, and hope that comes through in the recording.