Booklet includes list of tracks and points of interest.
- “Tear It Up” – Tribute to the Burnette Brothers: The phrase tells the whole story. Yes, they could really tear it up … and more often than often, they did! The truth is Tennessee was flush with fist-flying, knock-em-down-drag-em-out rockers in 1953. The Burnette brothers, Johnny and Dorsey, along with their howlin’ guitar player, Paul Burlison, tore up more dance floors in more Memphis area honky tonks than anyone — save their counterparts down Jackson way, Carl and his legendary Perkins brothers. The Perkins bothers and the Burnettes invented “Tear It Up” and “Dixie Fried” as a social order – or disorder! As their maxim goes, “We’re gonna get drunk, wild, crazy and tear it up” – a/k/a “Dixie Fried!” Thanks, Guys, for the guts to see it through, and the inspiration for all of us to follow.
- “Rock-A-Bye-Rock” – Tribute to Buddy Holly: 1956 was year two of the Elvis virus, and Buddy Holly had become even more grounded with his Rockabilly songwriting. Rock-A-Bye-Rock screams with the sauce of Rockabilly, lyrically and musically. Buddy, Jerry “JI” Allison, Don Guess and Sonny Curtis pushed the limits of their western bop experimentation with this demo recording. Why Buddy and The Crickets didn’t record this again after the ’57 and ’58 success is a mystery to me. Why we didn’t record this in 1961 or ’62 during our Liberty/ EMI Crickets years, I really don’t know. However, I do know you’re never too old to rock, especially with Buddy Holly material this good. Here’s to Buddy – the best of Rock-A-Bye-Rock!
- “She’s Gone” – Tribute to Buddy Knox: Buddy Knox and I wrote several songs in a two-day writing spree in 1961. That was fast writing, and fun! From this writing partnership came “She’s Gone,” or as we called it, our doodle-doodle-do song. Buddy loved the song and really got into the lyric. As a matter of fact, he loved the song so much he ran through it on the final session. Knox was singing so fast, I thought he’d get our doodle-doodle-do mixed up. He didn’t miss the story, though. His party doll was absolutely gone, and he made a big deal about it. Thanks, Buddy, for the big deal and your life-long friendship.
- “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone” – Tribute to Elvis Presley: Speaking of She’s Gone, let’s try one more, but this time from Elvis. Of all the early Sun classics from Elvis Presley, this Stan Kesler and Gene Taylor composition is far in the lead. Elvis gave it heart and Scotty and Bill gave it Rockabilly class. I began singing this song fifteen minutes after I got my hands on the 45 rpm record, and somewhere in these Rockabilly Tribute archives you’ll find my live version from a 1956 KPEP Radio show performance with The Cavaliers. Like fine wine, it ages very well and goes down smoothly. Turn it up and give it a taste.
- “Rocky Road Blues” – Tribute to Bill Monroe: I’ve wanted to take this Bill Monroe classic for an acoustic Rockabilly spin for decades. Well, hang on to your ducks because the tires are smoking and we’re about to ignite the supercharger. I can’t believe it took me this long to have this much fun with such a great Bill Monroe bluegrass classic. Talk about an opener! When Warren Dewey knocks the top off those drums and the Blue band locks in the groove, there’s fire in the mountain and Rockabilly on the road. No armadillo in Texas is safe! Call the Humane Society, there’s road kill everywhere!
- “Don’t Say Nothin’ (That Won’t Improve the Silence)” – Tribute to Django Reinhardt: Many people say I talk too much, that I don’t listen to my own writing. Well, this is my own writing, along with that Collins Kid — Larry. We wrote this several decades ago and couldn’t figure out how to arrange it. I’ve sung this as a Kris Kristofferson-inspired ballad on several continents over the years and finally, in 2003, I found its Rockabilly heritage at Pottery Barn. Really, at Pottery Barn! Pamela and I were buying a new carpet, and Pottery Barn was selling a French compilation CD. On the CD was one of my all-time favorite guitarists and the single person who influenced more Rockabilly, rock and roll, country and jazz guitar players than any other – Django Reinhardt. The Belgian gypsy guitar genius created two-finger fast playing and hot picking which gives great guitar players heartache to this day. Superstars of the Paris night club scene from 1934 to 1951, Django Reinhardt with Stephane Grappelli on violin created some of the most copied foundational music ever. This was my immediate answer to the “Don’t Say Nothin’” arrangement. Django Rockabilly! Look out, it’s contagious.
- “Well All Right” – Tribute to Buddy Holly, Bill Monroe, and Jim Ratts’ Runaway Express: Buddy Holly was excellent with arrangements. He could hear all of the instruments in his head and stitch their individual performances together like my grandmother’s best quilt. With his love for a broad range of music, Buddy would have most certainly approved of Jim Ratts’ Runaway Express bluegrass arrangement of “Well All Right.” Unfortunately it was a short expression of greatness as the Holly song was merged into a medley of Buddy’s songs and too quickly passed over. Ratts’ performance and arrangement caught me, and I immediately realized that what was good in short-form, could be great in its full form. I give Jim Ratts full credit for the concept of our arrangement and salute his genius. This is a triple tribute–to Buddy Holly, Bill Monroe and my new friend, Jim Ratts and Runaway Express. What a combination of greatness!
- “Don’t Ever Change” – Tribute to The Crickets: It’s been 43 years since the most exciting time of my life, when The Crickets arrived in London to find that our recording of the Carole King/Gerry Goffin song, “Don’t Ever Change,” was hovering at the number 2 position of the rock-pop charts in all of Great Britain. It seems only natural to dust off “Don’t Ever Change” while paying tribute to the Rockabilly Legends, and indeed salute the thousands of fans in the UK and the rest of the world who have made my life meaningful. So, here it is, for old time’s sake and for my clarity of focus. I had no idea what recording this monster song once again would do to my life. I’m refreshed, renewed and humbled by the opportunity God has given me to return to each of you the love you have fashioned on me over these past decades.
- “Do The Thang” – Tribute to Carl Perkins: Rocks, Rags and Riches wouldn’t be complete without a retro Carl Perkins song that I wrote with Carl’s boy, Carl Stanley Perkins. Actually, we also need to give Howlin’ Wolf part of the credit for influencing this Louisiana framed ditty as well. Wolf made us howl, and the howlin’ made us do the thang. While, “Honey, do the thang you do, but won’t you do it with me” is not necessarily a Sunday School lyric, it’s got a great groove. It’s that New Orleans second-line rhythm that makes you do extraordinary movements with previously unmovable parts of your body. So I ask you, please, “Honey, squeeze your milk and sugar and do the thang with me …Yeah, Papa Jack and Me!!!”
- “Rockabilly Boogie” – Tribute to the Burnette Brothers: I must take this opportunity to correct the spelling of this song. It should read, “Rocky ‘n’ Billy Boogie,” expressly for Rocky and Billy, the sons of Johnny and Dorsey Burnette, each born one month apart in 1953. And, yes, Mabel, this is the origin of the term, ROCK-A-BILLY! OK, now that’s settled, so let’s have some fun. Johnny and Dorsey Burnette, and their sons, Rocky and Billy, are dear friends, just like family. Alberta, Dorsey’s wife, makes the best pigs-knuckle spaghetti sauce you have ever wrapped a jaw around, and thank God, she made a large supply for me the night we shot her interview for The Rockabilly Legends: A Tribute to My Friends. If you want your Rocky ‘n’ Billy to boogie, get Alberta Burnette’s Memphis, Tennessee Italian recipe and open La Trattoria.
- “Good Rockin’ Tonight” – Tribute to Elvis Presley: The truth is, I lost fifteen pounds working off the intimidation this Elvis Presley song slapped on me as I struggled in two different marathon sessions to get the vocal down acceptably. All right, I’m not 21 years old anymore, but this is Rockabilly, and Geezers Rock! I used to sing this three times a night and now, well, let’s just say if it’s difficult for Sir Paul McCartney, I can admit it’s a bit difficult for me as well. I love this song, but it’s cold hard work to sing. Let’s just take it one day at a time and see how it resolves itself in the concert tour. I know some of the fans will see it my way because when we get together again with old big Blue and the boys, it will truly be, Good Rockin’ Tonight!
- “Jambalaya” – Tribute to Hank Williams, Sr.: Some of the best recordings start off “live,” and that’s the case here. Maggie Lewis-Warrick and I were just enjoying our visit and sharing memories backstage at the Memorial Auditorium in Shreveport, home of the Louisiana Hayride, when all of a sudden there was a sweet spot of amazing echo. Instantly, we began to sing because that’s what singers do when there’s great echo!! We sing!! As we were in the best part of the chorus of “Jambalaya” with our harmonies finely tuned, we were rudely interrupted by our director of photography, Richard Lyons, and documentary director, Mark Spacek, as they moved toward us with cameras rolling and captured our spontaneous, a cappella performance for posterity. Taking advantage of this happenstance, I stripped off the audio of this filming and urged Patrick McGuire to use it as the introduction of our studio performance of “Jambalaya.” Unfortunately, the tempo varies a little as Maggie and I rushed to try to get out of the way of the cameras, but that didn’t stop old Blue and the band. Warren Dewey pushed the drums, and Kevin Bailey eased up on the acoustic rhythm tempo in order to make the bridge. Hold on to your clutches because you are about to experience “Jambalaya” like you never have before. It must be pointed out that Milo Deering plays a seamless acoustic guitar solo mid-song that will be discussed in music circles and guitar pullings for generations to come. Truly, a genius guitar performance. Thanks, Guys, it’s been a great five years!
“Precious Memories” – What do you get when you have two old friends sitting on the front porch with a guitar in hand as the sun’s going down? Front Porch Praise and Precious Memories! This live ad lib track is a special blessing—Carl Stanley Perkins on guitar and lead vocal, as I keep time thumping the guitar case while singing harmony on Carl Perkins’ favorite gospel song. These are truly Precious Memories we are proud to share with each of you.