Old Crow Medicine Show Sees Bob Dylan As 'An Ethereal Muse'

Old Crow Medicine Show
Chris Hollo

The folk group's Critter Fuqua discusses Dylan's impact on new album "Remedy."

After a four-year break between albums before 2012's "Carry Me Back" -- long by its standards -- Old Crow Medicine Show is happy to be getting something new out sooner rather than later with "Remedy," coming out July 1.

"It was really an organic process," the group's Critter Fuqua tells Billboard about making the Americana troupe's eighth studio album. "It just kind of made itself. We didn't set out and say, 'Hey, we want to make THIS album' or anything like that. About a year and a half ago we really started writing a lot, and there's a lot of songs in the catalog that have been passed from past albums but hadn't been used. So between the new stuff and stuff that hadn't been used, we had 30, 35 songs we were working on, so there was a lot of confidence."

One of the more notable songs, of course, is the first single, "Sweet Amarillo," another "collaboration" with Bob Dylan that follows 2004's celebrated "Wagon Wheel," which turned platinum for the group after Darius Rucker's hit version of it in 2013.

"(Dylan) sent it to us and Ketch (Secor) finished it," says Fuqua. "I helped out a bit. That's another song I believe (Dylan) had that was not finished; his manager sent us this sort of unfinished chorus and Ketch built the song around it and I helped out some and out popped 'Sweet Amarillo.' It's weird because none of us have really met Bob physically. He's very much a spirit for me, almost like God gave us a little nudge, 'Here, finish this.' … He's very much an ethereal muse for us."

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The track "Firewater," meanwhile, hits Fuqua more directly. "That was partially inspired by my own experiences with getting sober and with drinking," he explains. "It was a struggle for eight or nine years, but when I made this decision to get some help, it was definitely a lot easier when I accepted the help. I think there's a universality to that song, just about the human condition and the struggles of addiction and the yearning for freedom from that."

Fuqua also credits "Remedy" producer Ted Hutt with helping to bring together the strains of the album's various songs into a cohesive set. "We had all these songs and he had more of a vision about sequence and where things go on the album, and I think that was really important for the way everything balances out," Fuqua notes.

Old Crow Medicine Show is currently on its largest-ever North American headlining tour, which includes a show at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House on "Remedy's" release day and a pair of A Prairie Home Companion shows on July 4-5 in St. Paul, Minn. The tour wraps up Sept. 26 in Seattle before heading overseas in October for shows in the U.K., Ireland and the Netherlands.