Almost exactly two years ago I found myself in Music City. Richard Murdoch (our esteemed AC producer) and I had gone over to Nashville to collect some interviews and experiences for some upcoming shows. You may well have heard some of these conversations in some of the shows we have broadcast over the last couple of years. Remarkably, there is still one major interview we have not yet put out, which, when we do may be the best of all of them.
The blessing and the problem with being in Nashville for a fixed length of time is you have to make some concrete decisions about the people with whom you want to speak. As you will know if you love the genre, country music is all about stories; and there are so many great ones. Rodney Crowell would be more specific and insist country music is really at its best when it involves a ghost story or two also.
Once we had wound up all the things we had time to record for the BBC I decided to stay on for a few days to see if I could also do a bit of my day job – songwriting. My good buddy Gregor Philp had come over, secured a great Air BnB which was in walking distance to all our favourite social hangouts and together we put in some appointments with some writers we’d been introduced to. As luck would have it we ended up writing two songs which ended up featuring on the new Deacon Blue album which we’ve just released. The first was a track we actually wrote and even demoed with a writer called Aaron Espe called ‘Wonderful’ and the second was a song called ‘Keeping My Faith Alive.’ Both writing sessions were joyous, but the first day we spent writing with Gordon Kennedy was particularly memorable.
Gregor had been introduced to our co writer through the good Judith Owen and, in the Twang Town tradition – there was a story. And what a story! When we arrived at Gordon’s house he’d been preparing for us. It was a small show-and-tell session. Something he thought we’d like and perhaps even touch or play…..we were intrigued. Lying out was a beautiful red Gibson 335 semi acoustic guitar. ‘That,’ Gordon pointed out ‘ was the guitar my father played when he picked out the riff on Pretty Woman.’ It’s not often you hear all that memorabilia in one sentence and, in truth, we didn’t take it all in, so busy were we admiring the guitar.
It was the starting point for a perfect day of writing, interjected by story after brilliant story. Gordon told tales about growing up in a house where his father, Gerry was one of the top producers and guitarists on Music Row. There were yarns about Roy Orbison, Roger Miller, Eric Clapton and Garth Brooks…oh and so many more. As the song came together I said to Gordon, ‘If we got you and your dad into a studio, do you think we could record the conversation?’ Gordon was delighted to organise it, and a couple of months later we found an afternoon where the three of us spent the best part of an hour talking about everything. There were songs, laughter and so many great memories. If you missed this show the first time around, you are in for a treat this Tuesday as we celebrate the songs, productions and country connections of Gordon and Gerry Kennedy. It’s all on BBC Radio Scotland this Tuesday evening from 8 p.m.