For Down to My Last Bad Habit, his 18th studio album, it would have been easy for Vince Gill to kick back a bit. After all, when you’ve sold more than 26 million albums, won 20 Grammys, and earned 18 CMA Awards (including two Entertainer of the Year trophies), you’ve done it all, right?
Not a chance, says this musician extraordinaire, who produced his new album with engineer Justin Niebank. Down to My Last Bad Habit, available February 12, is his first solo album as part of a new deal with MCA, the label he joined in 1989.
“Forty years into this, it’s still as much fun as it’s ever been to play music,” says Gill, sitting in his home studio in Nashville. “At the end of the day, what I get excited about is doing something I haven’t done before. When I record a song, I feel successful if I’ve accomplished something new.”
That’s no small feat, considering that on his first solo album since 2011’s Guitar Slinger, Gill returns to his favorite theme, love in all its incarnations: Love sweet and celebrated (“Me and My Girl,” “My Favorite Movie”), love on fire (“Take Me Down,” “Make You Feel Real Good”), love denied (“I’ll Be Waiting for You,” “Down to My Last Bad Habit”), and love lost and mourned (“I Can’t Do This,” “Reasons for the Tears I Cry”).
The Oklahoma native wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album. “I love the diversity of the songs. Some of them are brand new, and some of them have a lot of years on them,” he
notes. Gill took two years to make the record, during which he co-produced the second of two albums (Like a Rose, The Blade) with the old-soul vocalist Ashley Monroe. And with steel guitar wizard Paul Franklin, he recorded Bakersfield, an album composed of the hard-country songs of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
The new album likewise acknowledges country’s deep roots with the steel-guitar laced “Sad One Coming On (A Song for George Jones).” Gill, who approximates Jones’ clench-jawed vocal, sang at Jones’ funeral in 2013, but he was so broken up that he could hardly get through it. He wrote the new song as a way to assuage his own pain, and to give the King of Broken Hearts his due as perhaps the greatest country singer ever.
“If something’s country, I want it to sound about 1958,” says Gill, with a laugh. “I want it deep, as honest and authentic as it should be.”
The songs on Down to My Last Bad Habit run the gamut of styles, including the jazzy “One More Mistake I Made,” the down-and-dirty Chicago blues of “Make You Feel Real Good,” and the blistering “I Can’t Do This,” which hearkens to the pop power ballads of the ‘70s. One of the album’s highlights, “I Can’t Do This” captures the excruciating pain of a man who runs into his old flame with her new beau, and remembers the nights “I’ve seen that red dress hanging on our bedroom door.”
“Boy, you talk about torment!” Gill says. “But I like melancholy. It’s light years more fun to sing. There’s so much more emotion in it.”
As a producer, Gill wants every note to matter, and to feel equal to the others. He picks his musicians and guest vocalists much the way a film director makes a movie. “I’m always casting,” he explains. “I ask myself, ‘Who’s right for this part? Who will play it the best?’ That to me is the most fun part of making a record.”
While he chose such luminaries as Sheryl Crow, Alison Krauss, Bekka Bramlett, jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, Little Big Town and guitarist Sonny Landreth for this record, he also found new friends in Ellie Holcomb, Charlie Worsham and Cam, in addition to his favorite vocalists close by: daughters Jenny and Corrina. “I feel like the Partridge Family is rearing its ugly head in my life,” he says, laughing. “But in a great way.”
Fresh off a run of Christmas shows at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium with his wife, Christian contemporary and pop legend Amy Grant, Gill reunites with Americana star Lyle Lovett for a 14-city tour in February and March, reprising their witty, wry, and musically superb concerts of 2015. In addition to his own solo concerts, he also does about 30 gigs a year with the Grammy-nominated The Time Jumpers, the sophisticated Nashville-based ensemble dedicated to revitalizing western-swing and classic honky tonk.
“Since I put this studio in the house, I think I’m playing, singing, and writing better than I ever have,” he offers. “And that inspires me.”
Though Down to My Last Bad Habit is sure to appeal to fans old and new. “I was meant to play music,” he says, summing it all up. “And I don’t want to leave anything in the bag.”
Vince Gill and Don Henley recorded “Sacrifice” for the new compilation album Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The song, written by Sir Elton and Bernie, appears on the 1989 album Sleeping with the Past. It was first released in October 1989, then in 1990, and was the second single from the album.
The collection, also featuring Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Kacey Musgraves and Lee Ann Womack, among others, is available now.
We’ve included both a five-minute vignette and a 90-second vignette of Vince and Don’s version of “Sacrifice” for your use.
Some of the world’s biggest pop, rock and country artists are celebrating Elton John’s most beloved and legendary catalogue of hits with two albums Revamp (Island Records) and Restoration (Universal Music Group Nashville) to be released on April 6th. The superstar lineup features artists both new and iconic reinterpreting the timeless songs of the over 50 year writing partnership that Elton and Bernie Taupin share. These renditions and artists show the depth of the catalogue these two icons have created, which can easily cross musical genres and their unparalleled influence across popular music of all styles.
Restoration highlights countries biggest stars with thoughtful interpretations by Dierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash and Emmylou Harris, Miley Cyrus, Vince Gill and Don Henley, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, Willie Nelson, Brothers Osborne, Chris Stapleton, Rhonda Vincent and Dolly Parton and Lee Ann Womack.
Revamp features the hits reimagined by the best in pop, rock and urban with Mary J. Blige, Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, The Killers, Mumford and Sons, P!nk and Logic, Q-Tip ft. Demi Lovato, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith.
“’It’s always a huge compliment when an artist loves your song enough to take the time and effort to rework it,” adds Elton John. “As songwriters, Bernie and myself are thrilled when singers we admire and respect as much as those on Revamp & Restoration choose to add their own unique twist in the process. It means that our music is still relevant and ultimately that our songs continue to reach new audiences. We’re humbled and thank them all for their generosity.”
“Because of our love of all kinds of music, we’re not stuck in one genre,” said Bernie Taupin. “From day one we borrowed from everything that’s good about American music – whether it’s blues, country, gospel, pop, pure rock – everything got thrown in the mix. I think that’s why our music over the years has been so varied. It would be tiring if you just got stuck in one niche your entire career, especially when it’s one as long as ours.”
The album art for Restoration was created by Bernie. The rustic musical instruments and flags from both nations is an extension of his mixed-media art that’s another form of expression. It symbolizes the role that U.S. culture and its native music has played as a driver in the John/Taupin canon.
“For me, there’s an irony about the American flag,” Taupin says. “It’s been battered and beaten and burned, but it’s resilient. It’s always come back. I incorporate it with other things, and lately I’ve done a lot of pieces with deconstructed guitars and other found materials: barbed wire, broken bottles, things that people identify with on an everyday level. If it’s on the floor and it works, I’ll put it into the artwork. But it all goes hand in hand with my belief in America and my interest, I would say obsession, with Americana.”
“We have two completely different albums; Revamp being the pop one and Restoration being the country one and God we have so many great artists doing our songs, it’s quite incredible,” said Elton John. “Restoration was Bernie’s project and he’s a huge country fan. The ‘Revamp’ was more my project. He came up with an astonishing list of country performers both new and legendary.”
- Rocket Man – Little Big Town
- Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters – Maren Morris
- Sacrifice – Don Henley and Vince Gill
- Take Me To The Pilot – Brothers Osborne
- My Father’s Gun – Miranda Lambert
- I Want Love – Chris Stapleton
- Honky Cat – Lee Ann Womack
- Roy Rogers – Kacey Musgraves
- Please – Rhonda Vincent and Dolly Parton
- The Bitch Is Back – Miley Cyrus
- Sad Songs (Say So Much) – Dierks Bentley
- This Train Don’t Stop – Rosanne Cash and Emmylou Harris
- Border Song – Willie Nelson
- Bennie and The Jets – Elton John, P!nk, Logic
- We All Fall In Love Sometimes – Coldplay
- I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues – Alessia Cara
- Candle In The Wind – Ed Sheeran
- Tiny Dancer – Florence And The Machine
- Someone Saved My Life Tonight – Mumford and Sons
- Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word – Mary J. Blige
- Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Q Tip feat. Demi Lovato
- Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters – The Killers
- Daniel – Sam Smith
- Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – Miley Cyrus
- Your Song – Lady Gaga
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Queens of the Stone Age
The caliber of names contributing to Revamp and Restoration is another reminder of Elton’s enduring popularity at a busy and prolific time for the superstar. Last month Elton announced his ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ tour. Comprising of over 300 dates across five continents over three years, the tour kicks off in the US in September and marks the finale of 50 years on the road. The first 60 dates sold out immediately after going on general sale, confirming that the farewell tour will be some of, if not the, hottest gig tickets of the coming three years.
Music stars honor Elton John’s illustrious career spanning five decades with a rockin’ tribute on ELTON JOHN: I’M STILL STANDING A GRAMMY SALUTE, to be broadcast Tuesday, April 10 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. The concert showcases musicians from multiple genres performing classic songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, including Alessia Cara, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Kesha, Little Big Town, Chris Martin, Shawn Mendes, Maren Morris, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and SZA.
Luke Bryan is making the media rounds this week. He’ll appear on ABC’s Good Morning America, Live With Kelly and Ryan and Late Night With Seth Meyers on Tuesday (March 6th), followed by an appearance on ABC’s The View on Thursday (March 8th)
Jon Pardi will perform on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday (March 6th).
Songs from Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Josh Turner, Vince Gill, George Strait, Eric Paslay and many others will be included in the new collection, NOW That’s What I Call Country – Songs of Inspiration. The compilation features inspirational songs from some of country music’s biggest stars and will be released March 16th.
NOW That’s What I Call Country – Songs of Inspiration Track List:
- Lady Antebellum – “Hello World”
- Tim McGraw – “Touchdown Jesus”
- Carrie Underwood – “Jesus, Take The Wheel”
- Rascal Flatts – “Bless the Broken Road”
- Josh Turner – “Long Black Train”
- Alison Krauss – “Down To The River To Pray”
- Vince Gill – “Go Rest High On That Mountain”
- George Strait – “I Believe”
- Alabama – “Angels Among Us”
- Brad Paisley featuring Dolly Parton- “When I Get Where I ‘m Going”
- Eric Paslay – “Deep As It Is Wide”
- Phil Vassar – “This Is God”
- Chris Young – “The Man I Want To Be”
- Craig Morgan – “God Must Really Love Me”
- Brooks and Dunn – “Believe”
- Martina McBride – “God’s Will”