Cass County (Deluxe) Don Henley
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- 1Bramble Rose04:30
- 2The Cost Of Living03:40
- 3No, Thank You03:45
- 4Waiting Tables04:48
- 5Take A Picture Of This04:07
- 6Too Far Gone03:43
- 7That Old Flame04:26
- 8The Brand New Tennessee Waltz03:21
- 9Words Can Break Your Heart03:40
- 10When I Stop Dreaming03:06
- 11Praying For Rain05:01
- 12Too Much Pride03:46
- 13She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune03:16
- 14Train In The Distance04:47
- 15A Younger Man04:21
- 16Where I Am Now02:35
Info for Cass County (Deluxe)
Don Henley, the singer and drummer for the Eagles, releases his fifth studio album. It is a country album called „Cass County“ via Capitol Record—his first solo album in 15 years.
Five years in the making, „Cass County“ was quietly recorded in Nashville using top musicians. „Cass County“ is a county in Texas near the Arkansas and Louisiana nexus where Don Henley grew up.
“I’m associated with California a lot because of that other band that I play in, but I really and truly was born and raised in Cass County, Texas. I’m a Southerner and a Texan,” Henley said during the listening party.
„Cass County“ was produced by Don Henley and Stan Lynch, who also co-wrote 11 of the songs on the album, and represents both Henley's roots and the next stop on his creative journey. 'I was born and raised in Texas. I'm a Southerner and a Texan. So this is a natural progression for me. It's who I am and where I come from,' says Don Henley.
And don’t expect this to be an aging rocker looking for a second wind in country by chasing the current trends. The majority of the album was written by Henley and the original drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stan Lynch, and is said to be drenched in steel guitar. “He and I both have an abiding appreciation for rock & roll and country music, and the history of it. I think that’s what’s missing from a lot of records today. They haven’t gone to school on the older stuff, and gone back to the early days of the genre. So we do that — we talk about records and production and players. You’ve got to live and breathe this stuff. It’s not a hobby. It’s a calling. It’s something that we love doing.”
Recorded primarily in Nashville, Tennessee, and Dallas, Texas, the album includes guest appearances from Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert, Mick Jagger, Martina McBride, Jamey Johnson, Alison Krauss, Vince Gill and Dolly Parton. When asked about making the album, Henley exclaimed, 'I can truthfully say, I enjoyed making this record more than any record I've made in my career because of the people who participated. John Sebastian was dead right in 1965 or 1966 when he wrote that song 'Nashville Cats.' It's still true all these years later. There are some amazing musicians here.'
Born and raised in Texas (he attended North Texas State) Henley was taken under the wing of country superstar Kenny Rogers in 1970. Rogers encouraged him in the creation of his early band Shiloh and in California he teamed up with Glenn Frey as part of Linda Ronstadt’s backing band. That was the catalyst for forming The Eagles, once Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner were hired to complete a legendary quartet. Henley and Frey assumed a major controlling interest in the band’s development – operating under the theory that a benevolent dictatorship would accomplish far more than a full fledged democracy, and Don’s methodical raping vocal style and underrated drumming underpinned everything from ‘Desperado’ and ‘Witchy Woman’ to the gloriously romantic ‘Best of My Love’ and its polar opposite ‘Hotel California’, a song which couldn’t really have been sung by anyone other than him.
Don’s debut solo album, the self-explanatory I Can’t Stand Still, was extremely well received. Tracks like ‘Dirty Laundry’ and ‘Johnny Can’t Read’ (a sideswipe against American educational standards) pleased critics and piqued public interest. But it was Building the Perfect Beast (1984) that persuaded everyone – here was an artist who was far more than an Eagle, let alone a drummer. The disc has sold over three million copies and established a brilliant partnership with Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers men Mike Campbell, Stan Lynch and Benmont Tench. The stand-out song ‘The Boys of Summer’ is a Henley/Campbell collaboration which won Don the Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance in 1986 but it’s the startling lyrics about youth and mortality that make it so resonant. The lyrical reference to the Deadhead bumper sticker spotted on a Cadillac gave the number instant appeal to generations of listeners and wry as the observation was it also made a valid point about one time rebellion becoming a consumerist normality – albeit with a perfect up tempo rhythm offset by an entirely downbeat delivery. Stellar assistance on this classic album arrives via Lindsey Buckingham, bassist Tim Drummond, Jim Keltner’s kit and Jerry Hey’s moody horn parts but there are also surprise contributions from a fellow sardonic in Randy Newman (synthesiser) and the late great English drummer Ian Wallace, a member of Henley’s touring band.
Don follows that three years later with The End of the Innocence whose title track is another brilliantly conceived account of impending middle age. This time he colludes with pianist Bruce Hornsby (ironically then a member of The Grateful Dead) and the video is shot by the celebrated movie director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club) is startling black and white. The track ‘I Will Not Go Quietly’ (written with long time pal Danny Kortchmar) finds space for Axl Rose’s backing vocals, making it a collector’s piece, and the not to be overlooked gem ‘New York Minute’ has a slick apocalyptic arrangement augmented by Toto maestros David Paich and Jeff Porcaro: this has a distinctive whiff of Steely Dan about it. Other notables in the ranks are Edie Brickell, Valerie Carter, Sheryl Crow and Wayne Shorter, as well as those Heartbreakers. The End of the Innocence is a top-notch example of peerless West Coast rock cut though with acerbic lyrical wit.
Augmenting these two fabulous discs we have Actual Miles: Henley’s Greatest Hits (1995). Another Platinum affair this collates material from his first three solo discs and adds new tracks – ‘The Garden of Allah’ (a Hollywood Babylon epic on a par with his finest writing), ‘You Don’t Know Me at All’ and a superb cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Everybody Knows’ whose mordant lyrics reference everything from AIDS to social unrest and religious turmoil. All a far cry from The Eagles’ ‘Take it Easy’.
With Henley back in the driving and drumming seat with his parent group Inside Job (2000) was another well-received release but we point you towards The Very Best of Don Henley, available in a deluxe version that contains extra bonus audio and DVD. This came out in 2009 but it’s unlikely to be the last word on his idiosyncratic take regarding the American condition from Mr Henley. He remains one of the most insightful commentators on modern society viewed through a rock star’s eyes that we have. Turn up the Don Henley, the neighbours are listening. (Words: Max Bell, Source Universal Music)
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