Jan 062011
 

Our 45-songs-and-counting Cowboy Junkies Live Collection included the October live debut of Vic Chesnutt’s “Wrong Piano,” which was recorded in Edmonds, Washington. The sound quality left something to be desired, but the promise shone through. Well now we return with the Junkies‘ official studio recording of “Wrong Piano.” It’s a distorted blast of guitar and organ, and our first glimpse at what next month’s Chesnutt tribute album holds in store.

“Wrong Piano” kicks off Demons, a brand-new Cowboy Junkies album of eleven Vic Chesnutt covers. The Junkies worked on and off with Chesnutt starting in the ‘90s, giving them unparalleled insight into his songs. Before his untimely death on Christmas Day 2009, he planned on recording a new album with the quartet. Guitarist Michael Timmins explains:

“Our last get together with Vic was in 2007 when he came to Toronto to help us with our Trinity Revisited project. During the taping of Trinity we had an opportunity to do a bit of playing together and we came up with the idea of doing a Chesnutt/Junkies album, featuring his songs with us as the band. The last time that we talked he said that he was working on a song cycle centered around his childhood in Georgia and maybe it would become the album we would record together. I was on a cell phone in a parking lot outside a gig in Maine and he was in a van driving on the QEW heading to a gig in Toronto. And that was all.” – Liner notes

Download the new “Wrong Piano” MP3 below, then scroll down to peek at the full tracklist and read Timmins’ full liner notes.

MP3: Cowboy Junkies – Wrong Piano (Vic Chesnutt cover)

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Demons
Tracklist:

01. Wrong Piano
02. Flirted With You All My Life
03. See You Around
04. Betty Lonely
05. Square Room
06. Ladle
07. Supernatural
08. West Of Rome
09. Strange Language
10. We Hovered With Short Wings
11. When The Bottom Fell Out

Demons Liner Notes
By Michael Timmins

Our brief journey with Vic Chesnutt began in the mid-90’s when we stumbled upon his album, West Of Rome. We had just begun work on the songs that would become Lay It Down and decided to throw the title track of Vic’s album into the mix. We worked on the song for weeks but were never able to match its wistfulness, its forlornness or its honesty. We were never able to replicate the way the song just simply and effortlessly existed as recorded by Vic.

Several months later, when our album was released, we invited Vic to join us on a leg of our North American tour. Throughout that tour, we watched Vic every night as he stymied, infuriated, intentionally pissed-off and then subtly disarmed and won over audiences across the US and Canada. There was no secret to his game – just him, his guitar, and his uncanny voice, which could be grating and beautiful in the same breath, and the flat out honesty of his songs.

After that tour we would cross paths occasionally out on the road, or when he came through Toronto, but mainly we kept in touch through his music. Our last get together with Vic was in 2007 when he came to Toronto to help us with our Trinity Revisited project. During the taping of Trinity we had an opportunity to do a bit of playing together and we came up with the idea of doing a Chesnutt/Junkies album, featuring his songs with us as the band. The last time that we talked he said that he was working on a song cycle centered around his childhood in Georgia and maybe it would become the album we would record together. I was on a cell phone in a parking lot outside a gig in Maine and he was in a van driving on the QEW heading to a gig in Toronto. And that was all.

We tried to approach Demons with the same sense of adventure that Vic undertook in all of his projects (or at least that is the way his recordings sound). We let happy accidents happen; we tried to invest his songs with the same spirit and the adventure with which they were written, at the same time investing them with our own Northern spin. Exploring his songs and delving deeper and deeper into them has been an intense, moving and joyous experience. I don’t think Vic would have wanted it any other way.

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