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.”
“With this record, Vince Gill and Paul Franklin have taken their admiration for Ray Price to the next level, with one of the finest true-country tributes of all time,” states country music icon Bill Anderson in the liner notes for Sweet Memories: The Music of Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys.
Now, 10 years after the release of Bakersfield, their ringing homage to the music created by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard and their bands, Gill and steel guitar wizard Franklin are back in the re-discovery lane with Sweet Memories: The Music of Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys, now available everywhere.
LISTEN TO Sweet Memories: The Music of Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys | HERE
“It’s a kind of magic when (Vince) Gill and (Paul) Franklin apply their talents to the great American country music songbook,” states Cowboys & Indians. “Paul and I are in no way trying to say we can make these records better than the original,” Gill stresses. “I don’t think any of these songs sound comparable to the original. Paul didn’t play the same solos. Part of the reasoning behind this record was to feature not only Paul as a steel guitarist but me as a vocalist,” he adds.
“I think Vince’s singing on this album is maybe his Mount Everest of performances,” Franklin says. “I’m excited this music is getting out there and in a way that we feel brings new life and new ideas to it.
What we hope to do is introduce it to a new generation of fans and musicians that might not take the time to look back into the ’50s and ’60s. If you have great songs and you interpret them through improvisations, you’re going to get something good. And that was our mission,” Franklin adds.
The entire album contains material that might be surprising to even the most die-hard of Price’s fans. “We started looking through the sheer volume of Ray’s music,” Franklin explains. “We looked for obscure songs, ones even Ray’s fans might not know as well.” As No Depression noted, “Sweet Memories is a labor of love, introducing Price and his music to a new generation.”
Gill and Franklin discuss the making of Sweet Memories: The Music of Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys in a series of YouTube videos on Gill’s channel. You can watch them HERE.
Last night, Gill and Franklin previewed a few selections from the project, for the first time live on the Grand Ole Opry, performing “Kissing Your Picture (Is So Cold),” “You Wouldn’t Know Love,” “Danny Boy,” and “Your Old Love Letters.” The performance will air on Circle All Access TV on August 12th.
The album is now available on all streaming services. It is also available on limited edition autographed milky clear vinyl, as well as special exclusive autographed box sets that include the CD, an autographed art card, and a limited edition T-Shirt on Gill’s website HERE.
There is also a special exclusive tan vinyl that is only available at all Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores©.
Vince Gill (Ray Price) OC: …over the years. :22
“The fact that I got to sing on his last record he ever made was pretty special, so there’s a sentimental story there. He’s a kind, soft-spoken good guy, and he loved and revered great musicians, that’s why we also (included) the music of Ray Price and The Cherokee Cowboys – so many iconic musicians that passed through his ranks over the years.”
Paul Franklin (Ray Price) OC: …nice man. :42
“Vince and I both played on his last album. I never got to hang around with Ray, but I was taken by – this is of course when he was really dealing with his health – but just watching how kind…we’ve got headphones so we can hear the breathing and issues, but he never lost his voice. When he sang, it was still Ray Price as we’ve known him. But just watching him struggle with that, but yet the kindness and everything to musicians, and I was honored because Buddy Emmons had just turned it down and that was his guy, so to get that call – I mean, I just assumed he’d go down to one of the guys that he knew, but it was really cool and just a nice man.”
Ten years following the release of the critically-acclaimed Bakersfield album, country music icon Vince Gill and legendary musician Paul Franklin, have joined forces once again for their latest project, Sweet Memories: The Music of Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys. The 11-track album will be released on Friday (August 4th).
Sweet Memories: The Music of Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys contains material that might be surprising to even the most die-hard of Price’s fans. Gill explains, “When we originally started thinking about doing this record, we were going to do half and half, focusing on two different artists like we did with Bakersfield, recording songs of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. But we got to liking so many of Ray’s songs, that it became ‘Let’s do all Ray’ and ‘Well, Okay!””
Franklin adds, “We had such a great time doing Bakersfield. It felt good introducing that music to a new generation. This time, it was a no-brainer to pick Ray Price. Once we locked in on Ray, we started looking through the sheer volume of his material. We looked for obscure songs, ones even Ray’s fans might not know as well.”
Vince says the new project with Paul started out as half Ray Price and half Little Jimmy Dickens until they started delving into Ray’s extensive catalog. “Our intention when we started this record was to do like we’d done Bakersfield—half Ray Price and probably half Little Jimmy Dickens was the perfect pair we thought would work, and then we started finding so many things we loved,” he says. “We go, ‘Well, we want to do this, we want to do this.’ It was more than half a record’s worth, and we said, ‘Hell, let’s just do all Ray.’”
In trying to pick songs, Vince says they decided not to do Ray’s obvious hits. “We just followed our ears and we did the songs we liked. We didn’t do the obvious things. I think in a tribute record and we’re honoring someone from the past to do the obvious ones – ‘For The Good Times’ and ‘Crazy Arms’, things like that – they’ve been done a zillion times. And it’s kind of fun to take something that not a lot of people had a great snapshot of what that record was.
Track List – Sweet Memories: The Music of Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys
- “One More Time”
Written by Mel Tillis
- “I’d Fight The World”
Written by Hank Cochran and Joe Allison
- “You Wouldn’t Know Love”
Written by Hank Cochran and Dave Kirby
- “Walkin’ Slow (And Thinking ‘Bout Her)”
Written by Bobby Bare and Lance Guynes
- “The Same Two Lips”
Written by Marty Robbins
- “Weary Blues From Waitin’”
Written by Hank Williams Sr.
- “Kissing Your Picture (Is So Cold)”
Written by Mel Tillis, Ray Price and Wayne Walker
- “Sweet Memories”
Written by Mickey Newbury
- “Danny Boy”
Written by Fred E. Weatherly
- “Your Old Love Letters”
Written by Ray Price
- “Healing Hands Of Time”
Written by Willie Nelson
Vince Gill (deciding on what songs from album) OC: …do all Ray. :18
“Our intention when we started this record was to do like we’d done Bakersfield—half Ray Price and probably half Little Jimmy Dickens was the perfect pair we thought would work, and then we started finding so many things we loved. We go Well, we want to do this, we want to do this. It was more than half a records worth, and we said, hell, let’s just do all Ray.”
Vince Gill (deciding on what songs from album) 2 OC: …away we went. 1:00
“We just followed our ears and we did the songs we liked. We didn’t do the obvious things. I think in a tribute record and we’re honoring someone from the past to do the obvious ones – ‘For The Good Times’ and ‘Crazy Arms’, things like that – they’ve been done a zillion times. And it’s kind of fun to take something that not a lot of people had a great snapshot of what that record was. There’s a lot of people that really love this guy’s records, his career, and I told ‘em what songs we’ve done, and they go, ‘I don’t know that song.’ I said, ‘I didn’t either.’ It was fun kind of rediscovering some things that would fall in line with what we wanted to do and how we wanted to play and picking things that were very steel guitar-driven. These records are, their point was much more from a musicians’ place. We wanted to do instrumental kind of music, but we liked the stories of the songs so much (PAUL: “Yeah.”) that it’s just like more interesting to do the songs and have somebody sing ‘em. I sing a little bit, so I’ll sing ‘em (PAUL LAUGHS)
and away we went.”
Dierks Bentley, Priscilla Block and Jordan Davis will be featured on CMT’s Hot 20 Countdown this weekend. Catch all the action this Saturday (July 29th) and Sunday (July 30th) beginning at 9am ET/8am CT.
It’s like a smorgasbord of country music! This weekend #cmtHot20 hits it out of the park with Priscilla Block, Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, Dylan Scott and more! Plus, an all-new countdown with today’s hottest videos, Sat & Sun at 9a/8c on @CMT! pic.twitter.com/EdfxKO5fji
— CMT Hot 20 Countdown (@cmtHot20) July 26, 2023
Jordan Davis will be featured on CMT’s Summer Sessions performing some new songs as well as some of his biggest hits on August 4th.
Carrie Underwood supported husband and former NHL player, Mike Fisher, as he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame earlier this week.
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) July 27, 2023
Reba McEntire will livestream her recent show from Madison Square Garden with Veeps. If you purchase tickets for the event, you can also pre-order her book, “Not That Fancy” at a special price. For more information, go to veeps.com/reba.
— Reba McEntire (@reba) July 25, 2023
Vince Gill and Paul Franklin will talk about their new project, Sweet Memories: The Music of Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys on TalkShop Live on Monday (July 31st) beginning at 7pm ET/6pm CT.
Join Vince and Paul Franklin as they talk all things 'Sweet Memories: The Music Of Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys' on @TalkShopLive!
🗓️ 7/31 at 6PM CT
— Vince Gill (@VGcom) July 26, 2023