My Morning Jacket recently trekked to Woodstock, N.Y., to record a cover of the Band's "It Makes No Difference" for a star-studded Band tribute album, due Jan. 9 via Savoy Jazz. The catch: the song wa
My Morning Jacket recently trekked to Woodstock, N.Y., to record a cover of the Band's "It Makes No Difference" for a star-studded Band tribute album, due Jan. 9 via Savoy Jazz. The catch: the song was put to tape at the studio of the Band's drummer, Levon Helm, bringing MMJ's members face to face with one of their musical idols.
"Recording that song at Levon's place was bittersweet," MMJ drummer Patrick Hallahan tells Billboard.com. "It was one of the highest honors our band will ever receive, but we were very aware of the potential pain he would feel from hearing that song recorded by someone else. [Late Band members] Rick Danko and Richard Manuel were amongst the purest musicians to ever grace the art, and to conjure up their loss was something we feared and respected."
MMJ recently began featuring "It Makes No Difference" in its live sets, and even drafted Eddie Vedder to guest on the track while opening for Pearl Jam this spring. Still, choosing which Band song to cover for the tribute album was not an easy process.
"Picking a song from their catalog was like looking at your group of close friends and deciding which one is 'the closest,'" Hallahan admits. "You find that they're all 'the closest' in their own relative way. We hold that song in the utmost reverence. It's not only one of the saddest love songs ever written, but more importantly highlights the beauty of Rick Danko. His delivery on that song is one of the first reasons I fell in love with the Band in the first place."
According to album's executive producer, Stu Fine, the as-yet-untitled Band project will also feature contributions from Jack Johnson, Los Lobos, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Rosanne Cash, Joe Henry and Bruce Hornsby. Death Cab For Cutie has covered "Rocking Chair" for the album, while Gomez has put its own spin on "Up on Cripple Creek."
"Just by word of mouth, I'm getting phone calls from managers saying, 'My artist is begging me to get involved in this,'" Fine says. "We're looking for a repertoire as diverse as the Band's very unique history."
As for My Morning Jacket, the band has just been added to the lineup for next month's Lollapalooza festival in Chicago and will re-team with Pearl Jam as an opening act for 11 September dates on the latter's first European tour since 2000.
As previously reported, an MMJ live album and DVD, "Okonokos," will be separately released in the fall. The double-disc CD is due Sept. 26, while the DVD will arrive Oct. 31 and will also be screened at select U.S. movie theaters. Eschewing the straight-up "film the show" approach, the latter follows a storyline that transports fans to an MMJ show in the middle of a forest.
Here is the CD track list for "Okonokos":
"It Beats 4 U"
"One Big Holiday"
"I Will Sing You Songs"
"The Way That He Sings"
"What a Wonderful Man"
"Off the Record"
"O Is the One That Is Real"