SOLOMON BURKE: Nashville Calling

Do you approach a country song differently than you do a soul song?

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Well, you take your soul with you wherever you go. If it’s jazz or blues or gospel or classical; you add the soul to it because the soul is within you. But approaching the song, with me…it’s the story, and how the story is going to come out. And country music has such great stories. Most of their stories begin and end, and after your hear it, you know you’ve heard the whole story. You’re not waiting to hear, “Oh, what happened? Did the woman come back? Did he lose her? His baby’s gone, what’s he going to do now? Does he make it?” You cried and you laughed and you felt good about it. That’s the difference with country music-those little short stories that say an awful lot. They tell of a lot of pain, a lot of hurt, a lot of love, a lot of disappointment. You find that in just about all the songs that are written, even down to rap. You find the pain and the suffering and the love and the anxiety, but with country you’re getting a chance to express that story in two or three minutes.

You recorded this record over eight days. Was that an exceptionally short amount of time for you?

…What can I tell you? I could go on and on. I’m not real good at this, because it gets me to laughing when I think about it. My daughter was with me, and she was just amazed. Every night, we were saying, “Gosh, did you see that? Did you see that guy with the banjo? What about that guy with the organ?” Once, on that Bruce Springsteen song [“Ain’t Got You”], I didn’t even think we were recording that one. I thought we were just running it down and having fun, because I forgot the words, and people were coming in the house with the barbeque and picking up instruments and playing them. There was somebody in the hall dancing a country jig. And I’m saying, “Maybe I’m the one who is crazy here!” My daughter’s reaching in my pocket to get my credit card, and my manager is trying to get me to write a check, and I’m trying to sing the song. Buddy’s saying, “Keep it going! Don’t stop!” And I say, “But I missed the words!” and I’m writing words down. Bruce Springsteen will never speak to me again. I messed up his song. Then Buddy goes and puts the song on the record! I thought, “You all must be crazy.” Nothing comes overnight that’s good, and nothing comes quickly that will last. I’m just in the race, and one day we’ll get to that magic number. The idea is to show up and stay in the race, and that’s what we’ve been doing. I believe something that my grandma said to me years ago. “The race is not given to the swift but to those who do it to the end.” The only way to do it is to stay in it and show up. Somehow, someway, some day, you’ll win. So now I’m running down the road in Nashville. If you ever want to go to Nashville and get some good barbeque just give me a call, and I’ll be happy to go with you!

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