The songs came over a period of about 10 months, the last being “The Gone Of You,” co-written with Cliff Goodwin. It turned out to be, along with the title track (with wonderful guitar work by Big Al Anderson), the album’s signature. We’ve included it twice, in a full studio version and then in a genius demo track that Andy York, who produced the record and was its most stalwart contributor, fashioned from voodoo loops and dark guitar. I sang it one late-night-into-early morning, so we dubbed it “The Gone Of You (After Hours).” Yet it’s “The Deep End,” with its theme of jumping off a cliff, that owns my heart.
If the writing of the songs had been a joy, the recording process proved to be a total kick, spearheaded by sessions with the core band: Cliff Goodwin, Larry Donahue and Michael Colbath of Rebel Montez, joined by Andy York. Then from Andy’s home studio to Vic Steffens’ cool Connecticut-based Horizon Music Group to Levon Helm’s place in Woodstock to Station West in Nashville, Lily’s Terrace and New Calcutta in NYC, and Sounds Great in Boca Raton, the guest artists had tracks flying, on fire together.
Ian Hunter whipped off his sunglasses in the June heat at Andy’s and dug into “There Ain’t No Cure.” To my delight, he’d also written the lyrics to “The Deep End” on a yellow legal pad and offered to add his voice there, too. Marshall Crenshaw and I romped on one of my all-time favorite “lost” Motown classics, Marvin Gaye & Mary Wells’ “What’s The Matter With You Baby,” over at Levon’s studio, the great man himself on drums, his shoulders famously hunched in that beautiful way of his. Dion and I conferred by phone and, with Cat Russell’s help, crafted our vocal tracks—he in Florida and I in Connecticut— for “Cry Baby Cry,” a treasured southern soul gem out of my vinyl collection originally done by the unsung duo Van & Titus. Dion had loved the track as much as I did when I’d first sent it to him. The guitarists on this record are, truly, an “A Team”—from Rebel Montez’s current (Cliff) and once (Eric, to whose memory the CD is dedicated, appearing with me in a pristine radio air shot of Link Wray’s “Walkin’ Down The Street Called Love”—if ever a title fit the theme, this is it) —to G.E. Smith, Big Al Anderson, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, and Andy York. I am so deeply grateful to all the musicians whose hearts and souls are stamped on these tracks. They honor me with their presence.
It’s been a long and winding road, and in many respects I felt this was a journey I truly had to make by myself. That I’ve had great artists support me along the way has been a dream, and a gift. As I say in the liner notes, “There are so many who have stepped up with grace and love to help me get through these past years, to rejoice with me, to hold me while I cried, and to lift me up.” I have, indeed, been lifted, and now I look forward to sharing these songs with everyone. Let’s jump into the deep end.