Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr Recalls Recording “Yesterday’s Wine” with George Jones

Blackberry Smoke took on the country classic “Yesterday’s Wine” on their 2009 album Little Piece of Dixie. Several country greats have recorded the song solo and as duets over the years. Most pertinent to the story at hand, though, is the version that Merle Haggard and George Jones cut for their 1982 collaborative album A Taste of Yesterday’s Wine. That was the version that made Charlie Starr want to record it.

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Blackberry Smoke’s version of the song features Jamey Johnson and George Jones. In a recent interview with Otis Gibbs, Starr recalled how that dream recording session came to be.

Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr Recalls Meeting George Jones

Looking back to the time before the release of Little Piece of Dixie, Starr recalled that Blackberry Smoke was doing shows with Jamey Johnson. “I was talking to Jamey one day and I said, ‘We should go record “Yesterday’s Wine.” We can do it like George and Merle did it,” he said. Johnson said it was a great idea and the set about making it happen. They talked to Trey Wilson to get the ball rolling.

Then, Starr and Johnson went to what used to be the Curb studio and James Stroud signed on to produce the session. It was an easy process, Starr recalled. Then, Wilson dropped a bomb on them. “Trey said, ‘Would you want George to come?’ and I thought, of course, we would. But that’s crazy to think about,” Starr recalled. Wilson informed him that Jones was going to come to the studio with them. “I was like ‘Sure he will.’ I didn’t believe he’d do it until he walked through the door.”

By the time Jones and his wife Nancy came into the studio, Johnson and Starr had already finished the song. “I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about it. I mean, in walks the greatest country singer that’s ever lived,” he recalled. Stroud played the version of the song they’d recorded for Jones. His reaction was, “That’s country music right there!”

“I thought ‘How f—ing great is that?’ Because we’re a rock band but we like rootsy music,”  he recalled.

After some conversation, Jones said he wanted to get in the booth with Starr and Johnson to sing the song with them. “I can’t even describe it. He didn’t have to be coached,” Starr said. “He sang lower than Jamey and I and higher than us. It was crazy,” he added.

Featured Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Blackberry Smoke

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