[lastfm]Dave Stewart[/lastfm], originally a core songwriter and member for the [lastfm]Eurythmics[/lastfm], has since become a legendary producer and songwriter for a long list of acts, a playwright, a comic book creator and novelist (as well as avid martini drinker). The man has quite the resume; add to that an impromptu recording session with the McBrides in their Nashville studio that led to his latest solo release, The Blackbird Diaries. Featuring duets with [lastfm]Colbie Caillat[/lastfm], [lastfm]Stevie Nicks[/lastfm], [lastfm]Martina McBride[/lastfm] and [lastfm]The Secret Sisters[/lastfm], the album was written and recorded in a week. The ever-busy Stewart graciously took the time to answer a few of our questions concerning The Blackbird Diaries.
Street Date: I read through the linear notes on your album – what a fascinating read! – and fell in love with the story behind Blackbird Diaries, particularly how it began with the purchase of Red River Dave‘s guitar and a night out with the McBrides, and ended with a five day writing/recording session. Was this one of the more spontaneous records you have made?
Dave Stewart:Yes! I had no idea I was going to end up in Nashville and make this record, but from day one I knew it was going to be a special experience and in fact has been the beginning of an amazing ongoing adventure.
SD:This record saw you conquer two new “firsts”: recording in Nashville and writing a country song. Are you satisfied with the results of both? Did writing a country song challenge you in a particularly new way?
Stewart: I am satisfied with both actually. A) Because I wasn’t expecting to do this and B) Regarding the country song “Country Wine,” I wrote this without thinking or worrying, more as an observation and a thank you note, as I had been so warmly accepted. When the [lastfm]Secret Sisters[/lastfm] told me it was like a timeless country classic I was thrilled to say the least.
SD: Your song, “So Long Ago,” has the line: “I just needed to see / Past the rolling stones,” following two verses that namecheck blues legends [lastfm]Jessie Mae[/lastfm] and [lastfm]Mississippi John Hurt[/lastfm]. It sounds like [lastfm]the Rolling Stones[/lastfm] helped you discover these older influential musicians. Have you ever considering your own music as a gateway for young listeners to delve deeper into the history of blues and rock & roll?
Stewart: Actually I have a cousin in Memphis who sent us some blues records when I was about 14 yrs old and that’s when I started playing the guitar. The Stones really blew my mind and I loved their bluesy feel; I still do. I made a film called Deep Blues with R.L Burnside, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Junior Kimbrough and many others in it. I spent time down in Mississippi and watched them play live on the front porch and in Jook Joints – amazing experience. I don’t really consider my music as anything but a stepping stone back towards a history of great songwriters and players.
SD: If you could tell a class of 12 year olds which five musicians are absolutely fundamental to understanding your music, which would they be?
Stewart: [lastfm]Bob Dylan[/lastfm], [lastfm]John Lennon[/lastfm], [lastfm]David Bowie[/lastfm], [lastfm]Ray Davies[/lastfm], [lastfm]R.L Burnside[/lastfm]
SD: You’ve written that you wanted the experience of writing Blackbird Diaries “to be an adventure in freedom…leaping off the top diving board and letting go of any control.” Do you think you accomplished that? Does the final album sound as free as the writing process?
Stewart: I think lot’s of the album has moments of musical freedom but the songs still have structure so it’s not like a crazy psychedelic jam session ( though we did have some of those ).The songs were recorded usually in one take and that made for a very fresh sounding record.
SD: What can we expect from the forthcoming “Blackbird Diaries” film? Is there a firm release date?
Stewart: We are still editing it, it’s a little crazy as it’s a look inside my mind and how I use different methods to trigger creativity. It will be in indie cinemas, tv and eventually DVD, online, etc.
SD: Looking back on the entire process of Blackbird, what is the most important thing you will take from the experience?
Stewart: I made great friends there and they gave me the confidence to be myself and enjoy being a singer/songwriter looking forward to many more trips to come