So this Asleep at the Wheel book I co-wrote with Ray Benson, “Comin’ Right at Ya,” will be published in October. But it’s been in the works for a couple of years, since the summer of 2013. Because the subject was participating this time around, it was a lot more fun and less pressurized than “Losering.” Maybe the most appealing aspect of the whole thing was the opportunity it gave me to hang out behind the curtain in Ray’s world for a while. We met up a half-dozen times during 2013 and 2014, so I could interview Ray and associates, and also lurk around watching him work.
One of the most memorable such occasions was August 2013, a rendezvous with Asleep at the Wheel at the home of Vince Gill and Amy Grant. The Gill-Grant estate was just another super-nice mansion in the good part of Nashville — except, of course, for distinguishing features like the putting green in the yard, the dozens of Grammy Awards lining the shelves, the framed letters from Elton John and other celebrities hanging on the bathroom walls and the first-class recording studio in the house.
The day I was there, Ray and company were working in Gill’s studio with his Western swing group the Time Jumpers to record “Faded Love,” which appears on the new Asleep at the Wheel album Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. I got a souvenir out of it, too, a brief appearance near the beginning of the behind-the-scenes “Faded Love” video. In the screengrab above, that’s me sitting on the steps in the doorway. If memory serves, I kept my head down for the cameras because I somehow thought that would make me seem less obtrusive.
But I’ll tell you what, I sure did lift up my head when Time Jumpers vocalist Dawn Sears began to sing that day. I hadn’t been familiar with Dawn before, but she was just jaw-droppingly great – maybe the best singer I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing up-close. Sadly, Dawn died of cancer this past December. But you get a sense of what a powerhouse vocalist she was from the video. I wrote a bit more about Dawn and the “Faded Love” video here; and also about the rest of the Still the King album here.