Going All The Way: A Q&A With The McCrary Sisters

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You’re describing songs of exhortation. Other songs on here are prayers directed to God, or message songs. It’s a showcase of different kinds of gospel songs. That’ll be new to some roots music fans. They’ve heard old hymns, maybe some spirituals, but not contemporary stuff like “Victory.”

Regina: When I wrote “Victory,” I was thinking about young people. I was thinking about victory in my life and being an overcomer. I was thinking about being a preacher’s daughter, getting pregnant at the age of 17, having a baby and the trials and tribulations of that.

I took Freda’s and Ann’s and Deborah’s daughters that are, like, in their 30s and their 20s, and I said, “Listen to this.” I didn’t tell ‘em nothing but just, “Listen.” And when they listened to it, I saw ‘em over there and they was jukin’ and they was dancin’. Then I went and got some young ones, grandkids, four, five years old. …I said, “Listen.” And they was gone. What I realized is the beat caught ‘em first, then they heard the lyrics.

On your first album, there was a song you’d co-written with Bob Dylan. Long before Buddy Miller and everybody else in Americana music started asking you to sing on their stuff, you’d laid the foundation by singing with somebody who’s considered one of the godfathers of Americana. And not many people can say that they’ve co-written a song with him.

Regina: Well, I wrote that song with him over, ooh wee, twenty some years ago. We were traveling on a bus and I was walking through the aisles. He stopped me and said, “Whatchoo doin’?” I said, “I’m writin’ a song and I’m stuck. I don’t know where to go.” He said, “Can I look at it?” And I gave it to him. …The wonderful thing is I have what he wrote in his own handwriting, and he put the bridge in the song. He was like, “Okay, do that, then do that, then do this bridge, then go back to this verse. That’s your song.” I kept it and I kept it and I kept it, and people knew I had it, because for some strange reason, [all over the web] people would talk about this song that Regina McCrary wrote with Bob Dylan.

That had never been released.

Regina: See I have the original version of the song.

The demo.

Regina: Yeah. I gave it to [producer] Tommy Sims. And it’s got Spooner Oldham, William Smith—they call him Smitty—Fred Tackett on guitar, Bob Dylan on guitar, Jim Keltner on drums and Tim Drummond on bass. Bob had a studio in Santa Monica and we did a demo there. I have that demo. I need to get it turned over into a CD. That right there is so much different from where the song went. But we love what we did with it.

That’s just one more unique chapter in your journeys to get here.

Ann: I wanted to add I think a song Deborah wrote speaks to a whole different crowd of people. “Hello Jesus,” I think that song speaks to a lot of people that keep making mistakes.

Deborah: That’s like a confession, that song.

Ann: When we were at 3rd and Lindsley and my daughter was here—she lives in Texas—she told me I had to keep talking to myself to keep from crying hard, because that song was so true. …I’m just really glad that the CD, from us to everybody, the songs really ministered, affected us in our lives. It’s really where we’ve been, and now we’re going all the way. That’s why the title is All the Way.

Regina: I’m honored and proud to share a stage with my three sisters. I could be a whole lot of different places, but God got me right where he wants me to be, and he’s got the people around me that I need to be around. No matter what else I might think I’ve missed or I don’t have, God has shown me that I am right where he wants me to be doing exactly what he has for me to do.

Everything starts at home, and that’s one thing that our parents taught us. It’s gotta start at home. You’ve gotta pray at home, you’ve gotta be there for each other, care about each other, uplift each other at home. Then you can take it out to anywhere and anybody. Please put this: everybody that read this article, they are an honorary McCrary.

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