John Prine and Mac Wiseman have teamed up for a set of great country music classics on a new CD from Oh Boy Records. Standard Songs For Average People was officially released on Saturday (3/24), and features the two legends (from different genres) sharing songs that the chose together when the project was initially being discussed.
The idea for the duets project was presented to Prine by Nashville producer Jack Clement, which led to an invitation for Mac to join him for a meeting and song swap session. They each then produced a list of songs they might want to record, with no stipulations as to peiod or style, and when they compared lists and saw that they had both suggested several of the same songs, they knew the project was a go.
Included are classics like Saginaw Michigan, Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine, as well as more obscure songs to which one or the other was particularly drawn. Mac wanted to feature Where The Blue of the Night, a Bing Crosby number which he had loved as a child. They also chose Blue Eyed Elaine, an Ernest Tubb track from the 1940s that never made it to the charts.
“The singers recorded the tracks facing each other across a dining room table set up in a basement studio near Nashville’s atmospheric and semi-renovated Neuhoff meat packing plant. Co-producer and engineer David Ferguson (Johnny Cash) assembled an extraordinary group of sidemen, including guitarists Pat McLaughlin and Jamie Hartford, drummer Kenny Malone, bassist Dave Jacques and pedal steel legend Lloyd Green.
It’s no stretch to call the final product a masterpiece. Standard songs, yes, but extraordinary choices and performances. Average people these aren’t, but the title carries the message that music like this, timeless and gentle and humane, is not for music snobs or insiders. It’s not only for the old or the young or for a demographic or psychographic. It is, across generation and persuasion, for all of us.”