Sunday, August 15, 2010

Video: Mavis Staples & Jeff Tweedy...

From The Guardian:
Gospel legend Mavis Staples has recorded a new album with Jeff Tweedy. The Wilco frontman wrote several tracks for You Are Not Alone, as well as producing the LP, which includes covers of tunes by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Randy Newman. "For me to still be here and still be wanting to be heard, to have a guy like Jeff Tweedy want to produce me, it just make me feel really good," Staples said.

Staples, now 70, is a Chicago legend. As a member of the Staple Singers, led by her father Pops Staples, she went all the way from rallies with Martin Luther King Jr to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In recent decades she has collaborated with everyone from Prince to John Scofield, as well as recording protest songs with Ry Cooder for her last album, 2007's We'll Never Turn Back. But for You Are Not Alone, it was Tweedy, leader of Chicago's foremost indie band, who got in touch.

"He was just so up on what I do," Staples told Pitchfork. "He had all of our songs from the 1950s and 60s on his iPod. It surprised me. He has songs that Pops would play for me when I was a kid. Two of the songs were actually from before I was born. When Jeff played them, I said, 'Where in the world did you come up with those? You're taking me back to my childhood now.'"

The album was laid down at Wilco's Loft studio, with the rest of the band – besides guitarist Nels Cline – contributing to the recording. Although Staples said she didn't really know Wilco, or have any of their albums, she had a "wonderful time" working in an unfamiliar context. "The session was so different," she said. "It was so refreshing for me to sing these different tempos, and the way Jeff writes a song, you have to praise him!"

For one track, a traditional called Wonderful Saviour, Tweedy asked Staples to record a capella. "[He] had us go into the corridor, on the staircase. It was so cold. He said, 'Mavis, we're going to try this out here. There's such a good sound'. I said, 'I'm not going out there! It's cold!' This was in December when Chicago was freezing ... So he just told someone, 'Get Mavis a cap, a coat and a scarf, and Mavis, go out and sing.'"

"I'm so happy to be connected to the Wilco band, period," Staples said. "Most of the time when the session is over, you just take a deep breath and you're grateful that everything went right. But this one, I hated to see it wrap up. I would have loved to do one more song ... I told Jeff, 'It's cartwheel time for me. I can't do it, but I'll get one of my nieces and nephews to do a cartwheel for me.'"

You Are Not Alone is out on 14 September.

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