Having phased out his acting career in the late '90s while raising his children in New York, Rick Moranis is garnering acclaim for an album of humorous country songs, "The Agoraphobic Cowboy," which h

Having phased out his acting career in the late '90s while raising his children in New York, Rick Moranis is garnering acclaim for an album of humorous country songs, "The Agoraphobic Cowboy," which he quietly released via his Web site last fall. Simply through word of mouth and the support of the innovative music company Artist Share, the project wound up receiving a Grammy nomination for best comedy album. It will be released in stores this week.

"My kids, particularly my daughter, started listening to a lot of alternative country, jam bands and some bluegrass," Moranis says. "I had played that stuff to them when they were little kids. They'd play me something I knew the original of, so I'd tell them, 'So and so did this a long time ago.' It got under my skin. On any given day, if I would hear a turn of phrase or get a funny idea or something, instead of trying to write a piece I could sell to the New York Times, I started writing a song. I wrote one, and then another one. I was singing them to a couple of friends, and they'd be relatively amused. After I had a few, they said I should do something with them."

Moranis hooked up with producer Tony Scherr, who seemed a good fit right off the bat. "Tony has this little, analog 8-track machine. He played me some of the stuff he'd recorded, like early Norah Jones and Jesse Harris," Moranis says. "I was just blown away. He said, 'Let's lay everything down just you and me.' Over the next few months, we brought in friends of his to play the other instruments, and that's how it got done.

The response to "The Agoraphobic Cowboy" has been so positive, that Moranis is considering live performances. "I was on a country show down at Sirius, and the guy was playing tracks and explaining to me who his audience was: all these loyal truckers who listen to Sirius because they just love the programming," he says. "Hearing my songs being played to these guys, and knowing they were listening, is a little different than someone stopping you on the street and saying, 'Gee, I really like that movie!' It's a different kind of connection to the audience. It's odd and indescribable."

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