Exclusive: John Oates Reflects on His “Coherent” New Americana Album ‘Reunion’ Following His Split with Daryl Hall

In the wake of announcing that he and his longtime musical partner Daryl Hall have officially split, John Oates released a new solo album titled Reunion earlier in May.

Videos by American Songwriter

The 11-track collection features a selection of Americana-flavored songs featuring prominent folk, country, bluegrass, and blues influences. Oates recorded Reunion in Nashville with a variety of talented session musicians, including the members of his longtime backing group The Good Road Band.

[Buy John Oates Concert Tickets]

Oates wrote or co-wrote eight of the album’s 11 tracks, and among his songwriting collaborators were A.J. Croce, Joe Henry, Jim Lauderdale, and Sam Bush.

Oates told American Songwriter that he hadn’t initially had any plans to put out another solo album, but he realized that he’d amassed quite a few unreleased tracks that fit together well.

“I had a group of songs that … had this coherency,” he explained. “And then, I went back, and I realized that I had songs that I was sitting on for years and years and years. A few of these songs were written in the early ’90s, mid ’90s, late ’90s, early 2000s. … You know, they didn’t seem to work with anything else. And, all of a sudden, they started to make sense together. … And then I realized, wait a minute, I have an album that really has a sound and a feel that’s … coherent.”

About the Album’s Title Track

Oates released the album’s title track, “Reunion,” as its first single. The 76-year-old musician co-wrote the song with Croce, son of late legendary 1970s singer/songwriter Jim Croce. Oates noted that the tune was inspired by his 100-year-old father, who a while back was in danger of passing away.

“I went to visit [my dad], and … it felt like it was time. It felt like he was going to pass away,” he shared. “And he was getting very melancholy, and he started talking about reuniting with mom, my mother, who had passed away many years ago. And when he said that … there was a depth, and a kind of a gravitas, I guess you’d say, to that word that went beyond just … your normal class reunion or family reunion.”

[RELATED: Exclusive: John Oates Says His Split with Daryl Hall Is for Good: “There’s No Way… We’re Gonna Get Back Together”]

Oates said the encounter led him to reflect on his own life and the changes he was undergoing with regard to his conflicts with Hall and his music career.

“I started thinking about myself, and the circumstances that I found myself in over the last few years,” he noted. “And I felt like … this whole thing has led to me kind of reuniting with myself, redefining and rediscovering who I really am, outside of the collaboration with Daryl Hall.”

Oates also happily revealed that his father had “made a comeback,” adding, “He just keeps rallying.”

About the Song “Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee”

Reunion also features a song titled “Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee” that on its surface is about the famous late blues duo. Oates revealed that the tune, which he co-wrote with Henry, was partly inspired by his own strained relationship with Hall.

“[Joe and I] were talking about Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee as a blues duo,” John recalled. “And then, he brought out the fact that, as time went on, one lost his ability to see, the other lost his ability to walk. And it brought them together in a sense, because they physically needed each other to get on stage in the latter years of their life and career.”

Oates continued, “I suddenly realized that there was a bigger topic, there was a bigger point-of-view. … [And] then I started crafting the song to be a metaphor … for partnership, kindness, lending a helping hand, that kind of thing. And so, in a sense … I just tapped into the emotional involvement of where I was in my life, and all the things that I was dealing with, and all the circumstances surrounding the situation between Daryl and myself.”

Oates admitted that he hadn’t wanted the song to focus on Hall and him, “but I couldn’t help it, because it was on my mind and in my soul.” He added, “So yeah, it’s definitely a metaphor for that, but [it’s also] about, really, a universal kindness.”

More Details About the Reunion Album

Oates co-produced Reunion with David Kalmusky, who also worked on some of John’s previous solo efforts. Kalmusky also mixed the album, and played guitar on four tracks.

Acclaimed mandolin player Sierra Hull lent her talents to three songs. Lauded bluegrass musicians Bela Fleck and Jerry Douglas played banjo and dobro, respectively, on a song called “I Found Love.”

As previously reported, the album features a cover of the 2005 John Prine tune “Long Monday.”

About Oates’ 2024 Tour Plans

Oates currently has about a dozen solo concerts lined up in 2024, through a September 21 performance at AMERICANAFEST 2024 in Nashville.

Tickets for Oates’ concerts are available now via various outlets, including StubHub.

Reunion Track List:

  1. “Reunion”
  2. “Long Monday”
  3. “Dance Hall Girls”
  4. “I Found Love”
  5. “When Carolina Comes Home Again”
  6. “Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee”
  7. “All I Am”
  8. “All I Ask of You”
  9. “This Field Is Mine”
  10. “Arkansas” (Live from The Station Inn)
  11. “Anytime” (Live from The Station Inn)

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Courtesy of John Oates Archives

Leave a Reply

How Steve Winwood’s “Back in the High Life Again” Almost Fell Through the Cracks and Didn’t Get Recorded

The Story Behind “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden and the Real-Life Battle that Inspired It