The tune — whose video Billboard is debuting exclusively below — was a personal favorite for Colvin. “I’d always wanted to learn that song,” she tells Billboard. “But as is the case with a lot of covers I do, I’m reticent to learn them. I don’t see how it can add anything new to the original versions — but I’m usually driven to do them, anyway, because I love them. But ‘I Used To Be A King’ I never did learn.” Then Colvin had to come up with some songs to perform for an event honoring Crosby, Stills & Nash in Seattle, where she decided to play one song by each of them.
“So when I had to pick the Graham song I finally hauled out ‘I Used To Be A King” and decided to take the leap — and it worked,” she recalls. “But it was nerve-racking, ’cause they were out there listening. But I was pretty confident for that one because I knew the song so well, even though I hadn’t worked it out until a week or two before the event. So when I decided to do (Uncovered) I decided it would be great to include it on there.”
Watch Colvin performing “I Used To Be A King” below.Uncovered is Colvin’s second covers album and comes 21 years after her Cover Girl. She also took on songs by Crosby, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Tom Waits, Stevie Wonder, John Fogerty, The Band and more, while Marc Cohn joins her for an unlikely version of Brenton Wood‘s 1967 pop hit “Gimme Little Sign.”
“It was sort of an anniversary, 21 years since Cover Girl, and I hadn’t worked with (co-producer) Steuart Smith in awhile and I’d amassed all these new cover songs — some of them I’d been doing for years and years,” Colvin says. “Some of Cover Girl we did live at the Bottom Line, but this record was all done in the studio — although we just did takes with the whole band, live. We didn’t do a bunch of overdubbing and all that. It was pretty live as you hear it, which was really a pleasure to do. That’s how it should be done.”
Colvin is currently opening shows for Don Henley and will play her own shows later in November and during January, leading up to the Cayamo Cruise that departs Jan. 31 from Miami. She’ll spend the off time finishing up a joint album with Steve Earle, which is produced by Buddy Miller in Nashville.
“It’s totally a duo album,” Colvin says. “(Earle) kinda brings out the rocker in me and I bring out the sensitive side of Steve. We’ve been writing songs; we’ve got about five now, and a couple of covers we’ve picked out. That man is fast, and he has a great editing mechanism — which helps me, too. So we’re gonna get together and write a few more (songs) and then get the record out and go on tour. I think it’s going to turn out well.”