King Of A One Horse Town - Dan Auerbach
Our next LCM featured artist is singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Dan Auerbach. Dan is best know as the guitarist, vocalist and co-founder of The Black Keys, the blues rock band from Akron, Ohio. Last year Dan released his second solo album 'Waiting On A Song'. It's his love letter to Nashville, filled with songs of sin, dangerous women, beautiful tarnished losers, undying love and equally undying friendship. As a taster our LCM #SongOfTheDay is retro flavoured and cinematic 'King Of A One Horse Town. We love the 'Laurel Canyon' vibe and breezy feel to the track with it's wonderful string arrangements. Watch out for the great Duane Eddy playing guitar on this track too.
But first, he had to make the space for it. Dan Auerbach had toured constantly since forming The Black Keys with Patrick Carney back in 2001. After an especially grueling five-year stretch, touring around three Black Keys studio albums, and a lengthy tour with the Arcs that ended in late August 2016, Auerbach realized he needed to unplug for a while. Not because he was planning on recording a solo album; more that he just needed to stop. “When I finally told myself that I needed a break, that was probably the start of this album,” explains Dan.
But stopping didn’t mean that Dan even considered relaxing. It just meant that he didn’t tour. During the summer, he produced seven albums and finally got acquainted with the city he loves so much and some of the world-class musicians who live in it.
“I was on the road too much and didn’t have the time to stop and really take part in what was here in Nashville. I was too consumed with my day job to ever build relationships with any of them until this summer.” says Dan.
The key to these relationships was Dave Ferguson, one of Nashville’s most respected engineers and producers, mentored by the late, great “Cowboy” Jack Clement and a longtime collaborator of Johnny Cash’s on all his records for American Recordings.
“I’m just remembering now that Fergie was with me when I bought my old Ford Truck on Craigslist from this old guy in East Nashville. He basically took me under his wing when I first got to Nashville eight years ago.”
But most importantly, he introduced Dan to most of the musicians he knows and now runs with in Nashville. “He introduced me to some of his favorite people in town, writers he thought I’d click with, and most of the time he was right. That’s who basically all the people on this record are.
“Fergie took me to the Station Inn to see John Prine play. I knew of him, of course, but I didn’t know his stuff too well. But when I saw him live, I couldn’t believe how amazing he was. Fergie introduced me to ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement. We’d go to Cowboy’s house and listen to him play songs on his ukulele and tell us stories. To think Cowboy was at my studio waltzing around the live room floor to my music… and now I know I’m part of that tradition that stretches all the way back to Cowboy and Sam Phillips opening up Sun Studios in Memphis—it changed my whole universe,” says Dan softly.
And it changed the way he made records, working seven days a week, co-writing songs––something Dan had never really done before, certainly not in such a structured way.
Every morning Auerbach, Ferguson and singer-songwriter Pat McLaughlin, who plays mandolin in John Prine’s band, would get together at nine o’clock sharp to write.
Recording might mean laying down tracks with distinguished session guitarist Russ Pahl; or bassist Dennis Crouch, co-founder of the Time Jumpers; or world-class Dobro player Jerry Douglas; or Dave Roe, whom Dan first saw on the tiny stage at Robert’s Western World on Lower Broadway during his first trip to Nashville nineteen years ago.
“I am working with some of the greatest musicians that ever lived. When I met [keyboardist] Bobby Wood and [drummer] Gene Chrisman, it was like I finally met my soulmates. I’ve always had a problem that I work so much. These guys, they’re not normal. They’re as addicted to it as I am. Nobody that I play music with now got into music to meet girls,” laughs Dan.
The roster includes iconic guitarist Duane Eddy, who had sold twelve million records by the time he was twenty-four, with songs such as “Rebel Rouser” and “Peter Gunn,” all produced by Lee Hazelwood. Eddy plays guitar on two of the album’s songs, the stinging “Livin’ in Sin” and the more cinematic “King of a One Horse Town.”
“All I knew was whenever Duane picked up the guitar, it blew my mind,” relates Auerbach, still awed that the great guitar genius is among his circle of friends. “I just couldn’t believe it, because it’s hard to take an instrument that everybody’s heard six million times, and when he starts playing, it’s instantly identifiable as Duane Eddy.
“Sometimes I feel I created my own Field of Dreams. I built the studio because I knew something was going to happen. I built it to accommodate live musicians playing, and then all of a sudden the best musicians in Nashville show up, and it’s happening. Top session musicians in the world are texting me just to make sure they don’t book other sessions, because they just don’t want to miss anything.”