A half-century ago, Hiatt lived in a ratty, $15-a-week room on Nashville’s 16th Avenue, less than a mile away from the RCA and Columbia studios that were the heartbeat of what had come to be known as “Music Row.”
In the ensuing 50 years, he went from a scuffling young buck to a celebrated grand master of song. His lyrics and melodies have graced more than 20 studio albums, have been recorded by Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, and have earned him a place in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, a BMI Troubadour award, and a lifetime achievement in songwriting designation from the Americana Music Association.
He and wife Nancy now live within walking distance of Douglas, who reinvented the Dobro and is responsible for bringing the instrument to popular presence in modern times. Douglas has performed on more than 1,500 albums by artists including Ray Charles, George Jones, Alison Krauss, Earl Scruggs, and James Taylor, and none of those works sound a bit like this collaboration with Hiatt.
Leftover Feelings is neither a bluegrass album nor a return to Hiatt’s 1980s days with slide guitar greats Ry Cooder and Sonny Landreth, though Douglas’ opening riff on “Long, Black ElectricCadillac” nods to Landreth’s charged intro to “Tennessee Plates,” Hiatt’s epic tale of heisting Elvis Presley’s Cadillac, a car that was surely purchased with proceeds from some of the 250-plus songs the King recorded at Studio B.
The album answers the question Hiatt posed thirty years ago in “Listening to Old Voices:” “Is it true we are possessed by all the ones we leave behind, or is it by their lives we are inspired?”
The answer is “Yes.”
Those lives are musical ones, as recorded in the studio where he and Douglas gathered to extend a legacy. And they are deeply personal ones, as detailed in “Light of the Burning Sun,” about the suicide of Hiatt’s eldest brother, and the resulting dissolution of his family.
Here, then, is a meeting of bruised and triumphant American giants. Here are Hiatt and Douglas, creating the meant-to-be: Love songs and road songs, sly songs and hurt songs.
|September 16||Blues Tent||8:00PM|
8:30PM John Hiatt and the Jerry Douglas Band