He made his fortune with the rock band The Eagles, but singer Don Henley has returned to his Country roots with a new CD, Cass County. On the CD, Henley gets some high-profile help in a mix of new songs and some of the hurting tunes that formed his musical soul in East Texas.
Henley is best known as the drummer and co-founder of the Eagles. But his solo albums, including “Building the Perfect Beast,” “The End of the Innocence” and “Inside Job” have added platinum records to his collection as well.
On Cass County, Henley returns to his roots with rich lyrics and musicianship that break the modern Country mold. He also gets some help from superstars Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert, Merle Haggard, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, and Mick Jagger.
Like a movie script
The 68-year-old musician says picking the right blend of voices was very much like casting a movie.
“You know and I was extremely fortunate in that nobody turned me down,” Henley said. “I was really delighted when Merle Haggard said ‘yes’ and Mick Jagger said ‘yes’ and Dolly Parton and all of them, you know.”
Henley released the first single off the album “That Old Flame” a duet with Martina McBride to iTunes. The song speaks of two old lovers who have rediscovered one another, with the songwriter asking his one-time lover if it’s him she misses or just her long lost youth.
Covers of Country legends
Henley also has several covers that harken to his youth in Linden, Texas, a town of 2,400 near the Arkansas and Louisiana borders. They include Jesse Winchester’s “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz,” Jesse Lee Kincaid’s 1966 single “She Sang Hymns Out of Tune,” and the Louvin Brothers 1955 hit “When I Stop Dreaming” a duet with Dolly Parton.
Henley says that recording with Parton was a special treat, even though the version of the song they did was higher than her comfort range.
“She did a couple of takes and she came back to the control room and said ‘That key is a little high for me,’” he said.
“And I said ‘Sorry, but that’s the key we’ve recorded it in.’ She said ‘Well I will just have to rare back and get it.’ And about two takes later she had rared back and got it,” he said.
Jagger lends a hand
Henley also covers Tift Merritt’s “Bramble Rose” with a little help from Miranda Lambert and Mick Jagger. Henley says that Jagger added just the right element to the song.
“I was so thrilled and delighted when he agreed to do it,” Henley said. “And the bonus is about that is he played that killer harmonica part, which I never would have thought of. [It] didn’t occur to me at all. And I forgot what a great harp [harmonica] player he is. And it really added another color and texture and a whole other dimension to the song.”
Henley says he included the covers because he believes that music is getting away from its roots, and not just Country music but all genres. Authenticity is something the singer says he isn’t hearing much right now. But fans can hear it from him on Cass County.