Putting the Blues Back In “Killing The Blues”

ll of the 32 songs I’ve recorded so far have been arranged by me, and most are original compositions. Some are repurposed European folk songs into an Americana style. But I’ve only recorded one cover song – Killing the Blues – and it shows up on my latest album, Come on Home.

I honestly recorded this song because I loved it when I first heard it performed as a duet by rocker Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) and country fiddle player-vocalist Alison Krauss (Union Station). The song was originally written by bassist Roly Salley in 1977. But it wasn’t until Plant and Krauss recorded it thirty years later on their Raising Sand album that it hit the big time, winning a Grammy in 2008.

Salley’s original recording of the song was done in a slow folk/country style. It was beautifully done. Plant and Krauss kept the slow beat but added a unique blend of rock and classic country at the same time that put a new twist on it. It’s that stepping out of the boundary that I really appreciated and enjoyed.

As I listened to all of the subsequent covers of Killing the Blues, it seems like most, if not all, of them, are in a folk or country style. But nobody had done it in a jazzy or bluesy style, even though “blues” is right there in the title and throughout the lyrics. More importantly, the tune just called out for a peppier, jazzier presentation. Lots of jazz organ, sax, bass, and drums, in addition to a swingin’ guitar part, make this song come alive again in a new way.

One of the nice things about music is that every song or arrangement reflects the musician’s interpretation. I hope folks like the jazzier, bluesier interpretation we did of Killing the Blues, the number two song on our new album Come on Home.