2011-05: Billboard - Dave Stewart Finds Inspiration in Nashville
From his legendary work with Eurythmics to his recent collaboration with Stevie Nicks on her latest album, “In Your Dreams,” Dave Stewart has had a reputation for capturing magic in the studio. He does it again on his new album, “The Blackbird Diaries,” due Aug. 23 on Weapons of Mass Entertainment/Surfdog Records/Razor & Tie.
Recorded in Nashville at John and Martina McBride’s Blackbird Studio, Stewart’s 12-song set features guest appearances by Nicks, Martina McBride, Colbie Caillat and the Secret Sisters. The Grammy Award-winning veteran British artist/writer/producer decided to record his new project in Nashville after visiting the McBrides.
“I ended up just falling in love with the whole idea of Nashville and the whole idea of recording there,” says Stewart, 58. “Two weeks after I met John and Martina, I flew back and started recording the album, but I forgot that I didn’t have any songs, so I had to write them all on the spot.”
The album was recorded in less than a week. “It was five days and nights, but the nights were mostly drinking vodka,” he says. “There wasn’t a lot of recording going on.”
Stewart credits John McBride, who mixed the album, with helping him assemble a stellar band of studio musicians, including guitarist Tom Bukovac, drummer Chad Cromwell, bassist Michael Rhodes, steel guitarist Dan Dugmore and Mike Rojas on piano.
“I felt at home and people just accepted me as somebody who was one of them,” says Stewart, who during his 30-year career has worked with Mick Jagger, Bono, B.B. King, Tom Petty and many others.
“I know people who have gone to Nashville to make albums and come with some idea of making a country album, but I didn’t go with any idea of that in my head. I just came because I was drawn towards it, and while I was writing songs on the spot, I just let it happen. It’s got this weird mixture, like an Englishman landing in a country, blues and rock atmosphere, but it has kind of a quirky side to it too.”
“Cheaper Than Free,” his duet with Nicks, is included on both their albums and was inspired by a comment from actress Reese Witherspoon.
“Reese Witherspoon was in the studio watching me and Stevie record, and when I said I was coming to Nashville for the first time she said, ‘Oh, you can stay in my condo,’ ” Stewart recalls. “Stevie said, ‘Yeah, that would be cheap,’ and Reese said, ‘What’s cheaper than free?’ I turned around and said, ‘Hey, that’s a great song,’ and Stevie and I wrote it.”
Stewart says closing track “Country Wine,” featuring the Secret Sisters, was inspired by his Nashville experience. As he was finishing the album, he realized he hadn’t written a country song. “I couldn’t believe I’d been in Nashville with all these great country players and didn’t write one country song, so 15 minutes later I came out with ‘Country Wine,’ ” he says. “This is how Nashville made me feel. We all sang it and played it live together and that was the end of the album. It’s like a sweet little end to the story.”
Fans who visit his website, DaveStewart.com, can view the trailer for an upcoming film based on “The Blackbird Diaries.” The clip (seen above) features Joss Stone and Diane Birch. “We’ve been using this video to supplement our online press and marketing initiatives, as it’s a fantastic introduction to the album,” Razor & Tie product manager Matthew Amoroso says. “It gives an interesting look into Dave’s world of songwriting-not to mention it’s fun to watch Dave, Joss and Diane Birch cut their acting teeth.”
In addition to “Diaries” and co-writing and producing Nicks’ album, Stewart co-wrote and co-produced Stone’s latest record. He has also written a musical adaptation of the 1990 Patrick Swayze/Demi Moore/Whoopi Goldberg film “Ghost” with writer/producer Glen Ballard.
“That’s been a very big success in Manchester [England] and now it’s moving to the West End of London to open in June,” Stewart says. “I’m flying over for the premiere. I think next fall probably is the time it will open on Broadway.”
In the meantime, Stewart is busy promoting “Diaries” with media appearances stateside. The album, Amoroso says, “will find a home with a wide demographic of listeners. Whether it’s older fans of Dave’s previous work with the Eurythmics to younger fans just discovering classic artists like Tom Petty, Dire Straits, Warren Zevon and Bob Dylan, anyone with an ear for well-written rock’n’roll will love this album.”
2011-03: American Songwriter
Source : American Songwriter (See the article for some fantastic photos from Kristen Burns)
Dave Stewart was a day away form hopping a plane to Nashville, Tennessee to record an album at Blackbird Studios, when he realized he hadn’t written down any songs.
Stewart, a writer and producer, as well as fifty percent of ’80s pop group the Eurythmics, had met with John and his wife, country singer Martina McBride, owners of Blackbird Studio a few months before on a trip to Nashville, and decided he had to return to the studio to record.
Having just about everything settled and in place, including the musicians, Stewart had a cross Atlantic flight to start sorting out the rest, which became The Blackbird Diaries, his first solo in album in 13 years, featuring collaborations with Bob Dylan, Colbie Caillat, Stevie Nicks and the Secret Sisters, due May 2011.
“I wrote the songs on that morning and in the studio, in the Pancake Pantry and in the bath,” Stewart said.
While writing an album in five days may seem like a crunch, Stewart said he “tend[s] to write everything on the spot.” He also wasn’t starting entirely from scratch.
“I’ve spent years and years writing and producing for other people, but now I’m really enjoying just making stuff for myself too, but the thing is I have a labyrinth of stuff,” Stewart explained. Case in point: “Worth the Waiting For,” a song he co-wrote with Bob Dylan.
Stewart and Dylan got to know each other in the ’80s, at one point spending time at Stewart’s house.
“We were always doing stuff but not really trying to play together or be a band. We recorded lots of stuff, sometimes in my church, sometimes in my kitchen, and put it down on cassettes. One of the bits I really liked,” Stewart said. He took that bit, worked on it and sent it off to Dylan.
For Stewart, writing songs means leaning mostly on autobiographical elements. In “Magic In the Blues” he draws on experiences as a child relating to his parents splitting up, or later in life moving to London and learning to play guitar. He said it was about searching for something.
“Basically, songwriting for me is a little bit like John Lennon said, ‘Say what you mean and put a back beat to it.’” Stewart said. “It’s about letting everything just come forth very quickly and it’s not so much siting down with a white piece of paper in a quiet room for days writing poetry.”
Much in that spirit is “Cheaper than Free,” a duet with Stevie Nicks. “Reese Witherspoon was sitting next to me on a couch in the studio. I was saying I was going to Nashville and she said, ‘You can stay at my condo.’ I’d never been to Nashville at that time, and Stevie said, ‘Yeah, that’ll be cheap.’ And Reese said, “what’s cheaper than free?” He and Nicks turned it into a song.
Apart from the album itself, Stewart is looking to release a film at around the same time. Using footage from the production of The Blackbird Diaries with some fictionalization, like Joss Stone as a fortune teller and singer-songwriter Diane Birch as a hypnotist, Stewart put together a story where the entire process of coming to Nashville and making the album was something of a dream.
Along the lines of “Magic In the Blues,” there’s also a search involved. “It’s sort of this strange search,” Stewart said, “instead of the Holy Grail, it’s some kind of musical grail.”
2011-02: Music Business Nashville
Dave Stewart did an hour long interview with Music Business Radio in Nashville. One of the most engaging and informative interviews with Dave for a long time, and was well researched by the host, you can see his notes below.
Here’s the episode with Dave Stewart. Acts he’s been part of include Eurythmics, Traveling Wilburys, The Tourists, and Longdancer. As a songwriter and producer, he’s worked with dozens of acts including No Doubt, Imogen Heap, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Katy Perry, Aretha Franklin, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
His new album, The Blackbird Diaries, was recorded in just four days and includes 14 new songs, including a co-write with Bob Dylan and duets with Stevie Nicks, Martina McBride, and Colbie Caillat.
This episode talks his new album and has the stories behind the songs and how they were recorded. We talk Dave’s first record deal, working with Elton John’s record label, touring the world with Annie Lennox, his songwriting process, how Traveling Wilburys was formed, artist development, and what it’s like to work with iconic artists like Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks.
For those not on the podcast…
Visit Music Business Radio Here
2010-12: AOL The Boot
Matt Sayles, AP
Martina McBride is among the notable singers joining famed pop/rock musician, producer and songwriter Dave Stewart on a new album inspired by — and recorded in — the Nashville studio owned and operated by Martina’s husband, John McBride.
‘The Blackbird Diaries’ is a rootsy, autobiographical collection from the man perhaps best-known as one half of the superstar duo Eurythmics (with Annie Lennox). The album, produced by Mike Bradford and recorded and mixed by John McBride at his Blackbird Studio, was completed in just five days and features duets with Martina, Stevie Nicks and Colbie Caillat. Listen to Dave and Martina’s duet, ‘All Messed Up,’ below.
Among the 14 songs on the new disc is one which Stewart co-wrote with Bob Dylan. The album also features some of Music City’s most highly-regarded session players.
“I went to Nashville to meet John and Martina McBride about a TV project and fell in love with them as people and with Blackbird Studios,” says Dave. “I was in the middle of writing and producing Stevie Nicks‘ new album, but I was so inspired by Nashville and my experience there that I took a short break from Stevie’s record to go back to Blackbird Studios. Every night was like a party in the studio as we would play back the day’s work and have a jam session. Martina would often join us and she fell in love with this song, ‘All Messed Up,’ so we ended up recording it as a duet! I love her voice and attitude and am amazed and honored that she is singing this heartfelt song with me — just a Northern England lad from the borders of Scotland!”
Dave Stewart returns to Nashville on Thursday, December 9, for a live show at the intimate Belcourt Theater. Click here for ticket information.