After several years of promising and planning, the unlikely collaboration between Del McCoury and Woody Guthrie is scheduled to arrive on record April 15.
The bluegrass warbler and the iconic folk singer never met, and in fact Guthrie passed away in 1967, before McCoury’s meteoric rise to superstardom in the ’90s. But across the boundary of mortality, Del and his Del McCoury Band have taken a set of unpublished lyrics held by Woody’s children, and set them to music in the inimitable McCoury style.
Del and Woody has been overseen to a large degree by Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, who serves as a protector of her dad’s musical legacy, and his large collection of memorabilia, recordings and (most importantly) his many notebooks of song lyrics. The notion of having these lyrics set to music has been a goal of the Guthrie family for some time, but until discussions with McCoury began a few years ago, it had stayed in the concept phase.
Nora feels confident that this new collaboration would live up to Woody’s standards.
“After hearing Del’s show, I remember thinking that if my dad had had a band, it would very possibly have sounded very much like Del’s.”
For his part, Del said that he wanted to preserve the lyrics exactly as they came to him.
“When I read them, it seemed pretty easy to me to hear the music that would fit. Nora said, ‘you can change some things if you want to,’ and I said no. He’s a great writer, and I do not want to change anything in his songs. I would just like to put a melody to these words so that maybe folks will accept the songs, and that’s what we did.”
And Nora’s brother, renowned folk artist Arlo Guthrie, gives the record his blessing as well.
“The entire album goes back to a place and time that these days, are an almost forgotten era. But, Del’s high bluegrass voice brings it all back into focus…It’s amazing how little the human condition has changed, and good to be reminded that humor, attitude, and great music are timeless. Thank you, Del.”
Del and Woody is scheduled for an April 15 release on McCoury Music. The Del McCoury Band will be highlighting songs from the album in their live shows, and on select dates, will perform all the songs from this project, accompanied by videos produced for the shows with background information on the songs.
More details will be posted closer to the release date on the Del McCoury Band web site.