LIFE IMITATES ART WHEN BOUNTY HUNTERS KILL COUNTRY SINGER
“Tonight I'm gonna sleep in a good hotel with a nice warm bath if all goes well/ I've been out in the badlands 21 days, tracking my bounty down/ he was only a kid, maybe seventeen/ but he traded love away for a streak of mean/ now he's tied to my saddle with his head hung low out on Glory Road .” - Glory Road -Raymond Sisk.
It was a case of life fatally imitating art but acclaimed singer-songwriter and guitarist Warren Haynes wasn't aware of it until his interview with Country Music Capital News magazine and Nu Country TV.
Tennessean outlaw country singer Randy Howard, 65, was shot and killed by bounty hunters in a gunfight at his home on June 9 in Lynchburg - locale of the famed Jack Daniels distillery.
Former Allman Brothers and David Alan Coe band guitarist Haynes - an old mate of Howard - included another bounty hunter song Glory Road on his sixth solo album Ashes & Dust released here on July 24.
“ Glory Road was set in the old Wild West,” Haynes, 55, revealed as he heard the news. “Are you telling me Randy Howard - the songwriter - was killed by bounty hunters? I had no idea about that. I knew Randy well when he lived in Macon , Georgia but I hadn't seen him in 20 years. What was the bounty hunter doing at Randy's house?”
Trying to serve warrants for drunk-driving, I explained.
“Oh wow, I'll have to research that. It's ironic I recorded a song that emulates what happened in real life. That's quite a shock - I used to know him quite well but it's been a long time.”
Howard, who received wide exposure on Australian community radio for his albums All American Redneck and Macon Music , was recording seventh album A Pair Of Knees - a gospel disc - at the time of his death.
Haynes, raised in the mountains of Asheville , North Carolina , wrote nine of 13 songs on his new album and included Glory Road by Raymond Fisk with whom he worked in the band Red Wing in his embryonic era in his hometown.
Ironically, prolific writer Haynes whose songs have been recorded by George Jones, The Allman Brothers , Dickey Betts, Gov't Mule and John Mayall, is now touring in competition with one of his hit recipients - Oklahoma superstar Garth Brooks.
“Yes, I'm still making healthy royalties off Garth's hit version Two Of A Kind Working On A Full House , thankfully that song has been a regular earner,” explained Haynes, now touring in different venues to Brooks and singing spouse Trisha Yearwood.
“We have started playing it live with my band Railroad Earth . I never used to play it in the old days - now it seems to work quite well. Garth is back on the road and I'm sure he's playing it every night. Our version is a little more organic.”
WAYCROSS DOUBLE SHOT
“Waycross boy, self-medicated prophet/ freight train running through your heart, no way to stop it/ the love of all the angels couldn't fill the hole it left/ songs and whiskey eased the pain but the weary never rest/ wanderlust - it's bigger than the best of us/ like so many before you, you took the big bird to the west coast/ but California gold is not what you craved most/ beauteous harmony with your lover's what you missed/ but you can't stop your rambling once your soul's been kissed.” - Wanderlust - Warren Haynes.
Haynes will tour in the slipstream of legendary Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell whose second duet disc The Travelling Kind references her long deceased singing and recording partner Gram Parsons in its title track.
So does late Texan singer-songwriter Mickey Newbury's famed oft recorded song San Francisco Mabel Joy, also cut by Coe.
With further synchronicity another new Haynes song Wanderlust pays tribute to Parsons, who died at 26 on September 19, 1973.
“Yes, Gram was from Waycross , Georgia , and I was trying to get Emmylou to sing on it but we ran out of time,” Haynes explained.
“Shawn Colvin ended up singing on it so it's fabulous. I'm a big fan of Emmylou and Rodney myself - we worked together about a year ago and had a wonderful time.”
HAYNES PATRIARCH NO COMPANY MAN
“I started working here when I was 21/ summer of 56, my life has just begun/ back then this place was some place to be/ thought I could grow with the company/ hard times hit - 67 late/ devil must have opened up some flood gates/ my wife, she left me for another guy/ and in my heart I guess I always knew why/ she was never gonna understand/ never wanted to be no company man.” - Company Man - Warren Haynes.
“Billy Edd & I became friends when I moved to Nashville in the early eighties,” Haynes recalled.
“I would often catch ride with him from Asheville , as he had residence in both towns. I have fond memories of hearing him tell stories during those long trips and we even wrote a few songs together.”
Wheeler was born in coal mining Boone County , West Virginia , and wrote Grammy award winner Jackson for the late Johnny Cash and June Carter - it was also recorded by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon for the Cash movie Walk the Line .
Billy Edd also wrote Kenny Rogers hit Coward of the County that inspired the 1981 TV movie of the same name.
His songs - including The Rev. Mr. Black, Desert Pete, Anne, High Flyin' Bird, The Coming of the Roads, It's Midnight, Ode to the Little Brown Shack Out Back and Winter Sky - have been performed by over 160 artists including Judy Collins, Jefferson Airplane , Bobby Darin, Kingston Trio , Neil Young, Kenny Rogers, Hazel Dickens, Florence and the Machine, Kathy Mattea, Nancy Sinatra, and Elvis Presley.
Haynes' wife Stefani Scamardo - a fellow DJ of Willie Nelson and Dale Watson on the Sirius radio network and manager of his previous band Gov't Mule - is likely to accompany him here.
“For the most part she keeps it low key that we're even husband and wife,” says Haynes who confessed she played his music on the radio.
“They play the Allman Brothers and Dave Matthews, a lot of the jam bands like The Grateful Dead , so my music fits into that category. She keeps her own maiden name - she's been in music since we met 25 years ago. For 15 years we never worked together but it gradually came together.”
HALLELUJAH BOULEVARD – ON A TV NEAR YOU
“Everything is shiny and surrounded by light/ endless rows of halos like stars in the night/ sidewalks paved with diamonds up on hallelujah boulevard/ he saw it on the TV and it looked so clean/ like some enchanted island like he stepped into a dream/ now he's hell bent for glory to get to hallelujah boulevard/ and a soap box preacher with his busload of faith/ fuelled by his religion gonna charge through the gate/ and he won't slow down till he gets to hallelujah boulevard.” - Hallelujah Boulevard - Warren Haynes
Haynes also parodies politics in his new tunes Beat Down The Rust and Word On The Wind.
“It's definitely the politics of fear,” Haynes said of the source of Beat Down The Rust .
“In America the white male status quo is afraid they're losing their battle and rightly so because they are. Now the writing is on the wall and everything is changing. People have to prepare for a bit of a shock. They have to adjust to what used to be the status quo. I don't think the old regime is going to be around much longer. Jobs are going overseas, it's a whole different story but yeah, it's similar.”
Word On The Wind touches on the same subject.
“People have become quite complacent,” Haynes explained.
“If you look back through history wartime has always been a productive time for music because people are inspired to write songs inspired by the political climate. America has got used to being at war there's no longer any inspiration coming from that. No-one is speaking up about it - no-one is writing about it. It's just become accepted. I think that's wrong - the music community has got to play a part as much as anyone else. If we don't speak up we're doing ourselves a disservice. It's like the sixties again. If people don't stand up and take control they're going to lose control. It's got to happen in a grass roots sort of way and it's got to happen in a very large way that everyone understands that's the way it's got to go.”
Haynes also lampoons religious fundamentalism in Hallelujah Boulevard .
“In religious fundamentalism everything is fair game,” Haynes revealed.
“Organised religion can get in the way of progress. I'm commentating about that – it's more pronounced in the south. I don't live there anymore but I'm from there. It's still nationwide as well. I live in New York , a long way from Asheville in North Carolina . Asheville has become quite a liberal haven - the liberal mecca of the south. It's the Bohemian capital - a big hippy scene and arts scene. It's quite an oasis for politically speaking and creatively speaking in the south - more so than when I was growing up there. Red Wing was obviously a pioneer.”
BLUE MAIDEN'S TALE
“The sun did rise yesterday on that frozen hill/ as the crow flies, about 20 miles from Brownsville .” - Blue Maiden's Tale - Warren Haynes.
Haynes feels blessed for his career longevity that includes long stints with The Allman Brothers whom he rejoined on their 45 th anniversary tour.
“I'm very fortunate, they recorded 25 of my songs, also George Jones,” Haynes recalled.
“It's always great to hear someone interpret your songs a different way.”
Haynes released different debut songs in the U.S. and Europe.
“The first single in America is Spots Of Time ,” the artist revealed.
“We do an edited version of that - it seems to be embraced quite well. In the U.K. we're going with Beat Down The Dust.
I wrote Spots Of Time with Phil Lesh of Grateful Dead and also performed it recent years with the Allman Brothers . I hoped to include song on final Allman Brothers recording but it never got made. I decided to record it for these sessions with Allman members Oteil Burbridge and Marc Quinones.”
Haynes wife Stefani Scamardo has been a disc jockey on the Sirius radio network - also home of a Willie Nelson show - for 13 years and is the long-time manager of Gov't Mule .
“For the most part she keeps it low key that we're even husband and wife,” Haynes joked.
“They play the Allman Brothers and Dave Matthews - a lot of the jam bands like The Grateful Dead . My music fits into that category. She keeps her own maiden name - she's been in music since we met 25 years ago. For 15 years we never worked together but it gradually came together.”
Although another new tune Blue Maiden's Tale - about a soldier who leaves a maiden blue - references Brownsville but it's not the Texas birthplace of Rhodes Scholar Kris Kristofferson who flew choppers in his Army stint.
“That's a fairly new song, I had never performed it before making this record,” Haynes revealed.
“It's written more in the style of an old Celtic folk song. I chose Brownsville because there's a Brownsville in every state - no, not Texas where Kristofferson was born. I'm thinking more of mountains of Kentucky and West Virginia and North Carolina .”
And David Allan Coe, with whom the interviewer saw Haynes perform at Willie Nelson's 1983 July 4 picnic in Atlanta , Georgia .
“I remember it well,” Haynes recalled of the concert featuring Hank Williams Jr, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Willie, Linda Ronstadt, Bertie Higgins and rockabilly band The Stray Cats .
“David Allan Coe traded a leopard skin jacket with Stray Cats singer Brian Setzer that he wound up wearing in one of his videos.”
Haynes was just 20 when he joined Coe's band for a four year stint from 1980-84.
"When I joined Coe's band, I realised how much he loved blues,” Haynes recalled.
“Whenever his voice was tired on tour, we would go out, just the two of us, and open up with a bunch of Jimmy Reed songs. Then segue that into the show. One by one, the drummer would walk on and the bass player would walk on, and eventually the whole band would be onstage. He was really influenced by Jimmy Reed and Lightnin' Hopkins . That stuff was way back in his formative years, so whenever it came out, it was very genuine."
Warren Haynes & Railroad Earth Ashes & Dust double CD with bonus live tracks was released in Australia on Warner Music on July 24.