Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Jun 22nd 2010 2:00PM by David Chiu
"[Ben] listened to that song and his eyes lit up," Randolph tells Spinner. "He went in there and completely killed those choruses and really gave us a base to come back in [and] revisit that song, because now we had a full-on song. It turned out to be such a great song and a great day in the studio."
'If I Had My Way' is one of the highlights of Robert Randolph and the Family Band's latest record, which is out now. The pedal steel player and his band will be touring through the fall, with an appearance scheduled at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago this Saturday [June 26], with acts such as Eric Clapton, B.B. King, ZZ Top and the Allman Brothers Band.
To Randolph, the new album, which consists of original songs and covers, spotlights 100 years of American roots music, particularly blues and gospel. "T Bone had this vision of really just to start from there and see where our musical minds take us together," he says about making the album. "His vision and the fact that my roots are really gospel, was that we would be able to easily put something together."
On the album, Randolph covers 'Shot of Love,' the title track from Bob Dylan's 1981 album, and to help matters, Randolph actually received advice from Dylan himself on how to record the song. And when Randolph started planning his version of 'Shot of Love,' he thought of another guitarist who famously covered Dylan.
"I had this thing like, 'Man, I could do what Hendrix did with 'All Along the Watchtower,''" he says. "Maybe we could have something that people go back and listen to [like], 'Oh, that's 'Shot of Love.' That's Robert Randolph's song.' People knew 'Watchtower' and it really turned out to be such a cool piece of recording that we did. And [Dylan] really fell in love with it too."
Randolph also covered Prince's 'Walk Don't Walk,' which originally appeared on Prince and the New Power Generation's 1991 album 'Diamonds and Pearls.' "It was a song that nobody knew," Randolph says. "But don't forget Prince always had these kinds of songs that were these inspirational kinds of things. He was sort of one the inspirational icons of his time too."
'We Walk This Road' concludes with the ballad 'Salvation,' which was the last song to be recorded and features Leon Russell on piano. That session, in fact, was witnessed by Robbie Robertson and Elton John. "For some reason, everybody was hearing that were kind of making this record," says Randolph. "All these guys just sitting there [and] it turned out to be a beautiful and inspirational song. It's a great tune."
Randolph offered praise for his producer and collaborator Burnett. "Sometimes people like to overemphasize a lot of things whether it's like guitar playing, drum playing, singing and all that stuff," he says. "T Bone was like, 'No, you just got to get the message across to make sure it sounds real to everyone.' It's one of the beauties of working with a guy like T Bone."
As for what statement he wanted to make with this record, Randolph says it's to encourage people to listen to roots music. "We were here to basically just make a great record that represents Robert Randolph and the Family Band. We loved to just make great music and not to be pigeonholed as a jam band or gospel, blues or rock. We're just here to make great songs that 30 or 40 years from now people always go back and want to listen to."