Monthly Archives: November 2011

Sting, Vince Gill Team up for ‘Crossroads’ Thanksgiving Show

If you ever see Vince Gill shirtless at one of his concerts, you can likely place the blame on Sting. Bare-chested singing is a regular affair for the rocker, and when Gill was asked if he’d go shirtless for the pair’s CMT “Crossroads” special, Sting chimed in: “He will tonight. I’m going to encourage him.” “What a thought. You know I haven’t eaten in six weeks preparing for this gig because of this yardstick over here,” said Gill, looking at Sting before laughing: “Going to look like Laurel and Hardy up there.” “I’ve never been described as a yardstick. Is that a compliment?” asked Sting, joining in the laughter.

The good vibes between the two translate onstage during the special, which will air on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m. and was pre-taped in September. The rock and country veterans had worked together once before, at the 2004 Grammy Awards in tribute to the Beatles. Both said linking up musically was easy because they have “similar registers. “That’s always appealing — to find guys with guts enough to sing like girls,” said Gill, laughing again.

The “Crossroads” series has featured collaborations from James Taylor and the Dixie Chicks to John Mayer and Keith Urban. This one-hour concert will have Gill and Sting performing hits like “Shape of My Heart,” “Every Breath You Take” and “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away.”

While the singers — who own a combined 36 Grammy Awards — say the collaboration was a comfortable one, they admit there were some challenges, too, when it came to covering the other’s songs. “When you immerse yourself in somebody else’s work and the more you get to know the song, you recognize these little inflections in the melody, which you hadn’t noticed the first time,” Sting said. “It demands a lot of respect, a lot of care and attention.”

Gill knew it would be tough to cover Sting’s material, and he told the rock singer he’d need him to step in during some moments. “I’m meat and potatoes, you know, but once I went in there and spent the time, I started to understand how it all worked,” he said. “There’s like a couple lines that I’ve tried to learn and I just said, `Sting, you gotta sing these `cause they’re so off-the-hook great I don’t want to screw them up.'”

They also said their temporary duo was drama-free. “We haven’t had a fight yet. Not one,” said Sting.Gill chimed in with a laugh: “If we get into a fight, I’ll choke you with heel dust (and) run away. I’m not much of a fighter.”

Jagger, Richards Share New Love for ‘Some Girls’

Keith Richards equates the rush to release the Rolling Stones’ seminal album “Some Girls” as “the same as cutting off your baby’s head.” “We couldn’t release a double album and we were on deadline,” the guitarist said of the 1978 recording. “Sometimes you’re really getting into tracks you want to finish, but they don’t make (it) because time was up.” Now many of those songs they were working on have been included with the re-release of the album as a double disc on Monday. A box set from the album was also released.

Mick Jagger said “Some Girls” was a pivotal album for the band. “The records that came before this were not as good. This was better,” Jagger said, referencing the heavily produced “Goats Head Soup,” and “It’s Only Rock and Roll,” which preceded it.

At the time, punk rock and disco were threatening the old “dinosaur rockers,” as Richards said, so the band had to get back to its basic stripped-down sound. “The punks started to kick us … the Sex Pistols, and The Clash, and other bands were coming out and we realized we were already in a second generation,” Richards said.

One of the album’s biggest hits, and also the most criticized at the time, was the dance track “Miss You.” “It’s not like we wanted to make a career out of disco; it just happened to be that beat, and Mick came up with this beautiful idea. If you’re ever gonna do disco, you got to do it now. It was like a one-off,” Richards said.

Jagger, who says he loves all forms of dance music from the 1930s to house music, didn’t know why it mattered. “I never thought for one minute that people would criticize you for doing something with a dance beat,” Jagger said. “So the idea of it being `Bob Dylan going electric’ never occurred to me.” The song went to No. 1 on the Billboard chart, and spawned a variety of dance mixes.

Next year, the band will celebrate its 50th anniversary, and there’s a great deal of speculation as to whether the band will tour for their milestone. “I’m hoping to do something about it. Right now, I don’t want to go too much into it. I’m pulling the boys together and (will) see what happens. It’s a work in progress. I’m not Nostradamus on this, but we all want to do something for the big 5-0,” Richards said. All Jagger would say is that “we have a lot of things planned, who knows what will come to fruition.”

According to Richards, he and Jagger recently mended fences after Richards revealed too much about his songwriting partner in his autobiography earlier this year. “He’s a brother, a best friend, and probably the most contentious person I know. All collaborations are like that. Nothing goes totally smoothly, but we always patch it up. We patched it up now. The thing is we enjoy working with each other; it’s the idea of it that’s frightening,” Richards laughed.

The duo has written most of the Rolling Stones music, and though Jagger usually sings them, Richards does have his signature tracks. Among them is “Before They Make Me Run” from “Some Girls”; it has become one of his favorite songs to perform. “It’s pretty autobiographical. … I was feeling a little hounded, so I think it came out of feeling that. I was on the run, basically. Very few countries would accept me at the time,” said Richards, who was facing a potentially long prison sentence at the time because of a heroin possession charge in Toronto.

While Richards said the unreleased music was ready to go, Jagger did say he tinkered with the remixes.

“In a way it’s interesting to put the head back on the baby,” Richards said.