William Shatner: Actor. Author. Country Music Star?

by Marie Rodriguez

“There’s that word once more: Unique. I can’t think of a better word to explain it. I would possibly mission you to go into a file save or log on and discover something like it.”

Jeff Cook, founding member and lead guitarist for Alabama, is home thinking about one of the odder tasks he’s recorded in his 50-year profession. Over the path of three days final year in Cook’s Alabama studio, William Shatner, Cook’s friend for nearly 40 years, hopped into the vocal booth and, along with his very own inimitable spoken-word fashion rarely seen in country tune, laid down vocals for what could end up Why Not Me?, his debut u . S. Album launched the remaining 12 months.

“Things just flowed,” Cook tells Rolling Stone. “We not often had to reduce things over two times. I turned into amazed that we went thru it as quick as we did.”

Beginning with 1968’s The Transposed Man album, which juxtaposed William Shakespeare works and different poems to modern-day pop songs (“Lucy within the Sky With Diamonds,” “Mr. Tambourine Man”), William Shatner has lengthy been a mercurial musical discern existing in his own universe. There’s the 1977 stay double album, indulgent even for a time while indulgence became contractually obligated for most organizations, that saw Shatner recite Cyrano and War of the Worlds. An oft-parodied spoken phrase model of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” arrived a yr later, followed with the aid of an album of biblical readings, collaborations with absolutely everyone from his buddy Brad Paisley to Bootsy Collins to Ben Folds and regardless of the hell that is:

Most currently, Shatner launched Shatner Claus – The Christmas Album, an replace of traditional Christmas songs offering Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop, and Rick Wakeman.

But now, at 88, William Shatner has determined to head united states of America, culminating – or persevering with? – along with his latest look with Cook on the Grand Ole Opry earlier this yr. “I’ve prominent united states tune for the longest time,” Shatner tells Rolling Stone. “Because USA track generally tells a tale, the lyrics lend itself to what I do.”

Shatner is not a whole stranger to the united states of America song. In 2003, he appeared as an American Idol-style judge in Paisley’s reality TV-spoofing video “Celebrity” alongside Jason Alexander and Jim Belushi. Paisley back the desire, recording a cowl of Steve Miller’s “Space Cowboy” for his 2011 album Seeking Major Tom.

Musically, Why Not Me? Exams of all the bins of a proper country album, way to Cook, guest vocals by means of Neal McCoy, Home Free and Cash Creek and a slew of Music Row songwriters who contributed to the album. But like the maximum of Shatner’s work, the road among serious and self-parodic is a gray one, with heartfelt, sincere songs like “Should’ a Loved” and the identity track bumping up towards titles like “Too Old to Be Vegan” and “I Hate to Waste Good Beer.”

In November 2017, Brian Curl, president of Nashville label Heartland Records, pitched the idea of a rustic album to Shatner after signing Cook to a solo report deal the yr before and liberating his Gotcha Covered, Vol. 1.

“I knew that Jeff was a Star Trek fan and I have been keen on Bill’s appearing also,” says Curl. “Since Bill had recorded spoken-word albums through the years, I concept it’d be a notable task to place the two together to report a duet album.” Curl enlisted Music Row songwriters he had labored with to write most of the songs especially for the album and tailored to Cook’s vocal style and, ways greater difficulty, Shatner’s spoken-phrase transport.

“When I asked him how this album became specific within the recording method than his others, he said that nobody had ever given him demos to pay attention to earlier than,” Curl says. “I think having the demos given to Bill ahead allowed him to recognize greater about how he wanted to word words whilst we went in to document.”

“I didn’t truly apprehend till I began getting [the songs] that what I had heard a long time in the past approximately the Brill Building in Times Square [was like Music Row],” Shatner says. “In the summertime, whilst the windows had been open, you can pay attention the track from the variety of places of work where each composer had a piano and that they’d be pounding out their songs and making a song them. In my imagination, I walked via the Brill Building normally and looked up with fascination. When I started to obtain these songs, it occurred me that this changed into the Brill Building but moved to Nashville.”

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