Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell pays homage to his Texas upbringing on his new record, fittingly titled, Texas.
The Houston-born rocker drew inspiration from the Lone Star State’s vast landscape, intricate geography, and long history — as his melodies speak to “Flatland Hillbillies” and the political unrest along “The Border.”
“I just had a group of songs that fit well together and as I recorded them I came to understand that the true narrative was somehow specific to the landscape and culture of Texas,” Crowell said.
While most of the songs were recently penned, some of the record’s sounds date back to the 70s and 80s. But at its soul, Texas tips its hat to the sounds of the 50s and 60s era.
“We consciously used 50s era Vox amplifiers and really went for that mid-60s, Abbey Road sound,” Crowell said.
It wasn’t particularly strenuous for Crowell to find that Abbey Road sound — especially with an original Beatle onboard. After a mutual friend suggested that him and former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr write a song together, somehow the two eventually landed in the studio recording in California.
“I told my friend in casual conversation that I was starting an album and he told Ringo about it,” Crowell recalls. “He sent me a note back saying, ‘Hey Ringo is available to record a track if you want’ and I jumped on that.”
The pairing was natural and almost poetic, as their song “You’re Only Happy When You’re Miserable” was solidified in a single take.
“Ringo’s drumming was so uniquely his own,” Crowell said. “It was really easy to make. Honestly, its the easiest record I’ve ever made. Most of the music just fell into place.”
The record boasts several notable collaborations, including Willie Nelson and Ronnie Dunn on “Deep in the Heart of Uncertain Texas,” Billy F. Gibbons on “56 Fury,” and plenty more.
“I’m particularly proud of ’56 Fury’ because it has been a long desire of mine to record something with Billy Gibbons,” Crowell said. “When we finally landed on the right song and made that recording, its something that I’ve wanted to achieve for a long time.”
The 11-track record has been out for just a little over two weeks and is already receiving renowned acclaim, climbing Billboard’s country charts as an Americana singer.
“Its where I grew up,” Crowell said. “I haven’t lived there in many, many years but I still know the culture really well. I have more of a connection to the earth there.”
Listen to Crowell’s new record below.
Rodney Crowell plays with Ernie Ball Acoustic guitar strings. Including Earthwood Light 80/20, Earthwood Medium Phosphor Bronze, and Aluminum Bronze Medium Light acoustic sets.
Intimately filmed on his property in Nashville, Tennessee, Crowell opens up about his roots, his intimate relationship to songwriting, the art of inspiration, and much more in this episode of Unearthed. Watch the full film below.