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Radney Foster’s Del Rio, TX, 1959 produced heartache hits equally ballsy (“Just Call Me Lonesome”) and buoyant (“Nobody Wins”). We caught up with the celebrated Music City songwriter as the iconic album looks forward to turning thirty years old.
“I’m actually listening to a mix of the Randy Rogers Band right now,” Foster said when we called.”I’m producing them again after a twelve year hiatus. I cut the first half already and we’re gonna cut another five or six songs in January.”
Alt-Country Specialty Chart: What have you been doing during the pandemic?
Radney Foster: I have been trying to figure out new ways to be creative at home. My sons and I have made a Sixties bachelor pad exotica record (that sounds like) Brazil in 1966 and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Way out of my comfort zone. My youngest son in particular is a really good jazz and trumpet player. We just said, “Let’s do something fun.” We did five or six songs with two or three interludes. The songs have some modern elements because they both deal with the hip-hop and EDM world and there are programmed elements. The music would sit right next to a Burt Bacharach album or The Girl from Ipanima or a Henri Mancini movie soundtrack.
Lots of songwriters we’ve talked to have gotten out of their comfort zone lately.
Partly because we’re stuck. Also, (my wife and manager) Cyndi and I have written a movie script based on the short story called “Isabelle” from my book For You to See the Stars, which has been optioned and we’re working with producers out in Hollywood during the development process. That’s been going swimmingly. They’ve been very pleased and we’re down to final rewrites before it goes to market.
Yeah. It’s cool because it’s the first time Cyndi and I have been able to collaborate as writers. She’s always been a great writer and certainly she was the first one to see any of my short fiction in For You to See the Stars. She took an editor’s pen to it before it went out to anybody. Cyndi has always been my best critic. She’s never been afraid to say, “I think you have a better second verse in you.” I married a music critic, right?
Have you written scripts before?
No. This was a style and form that neither had any experience trying to tackle. We spent about six months reading a ton about screenwriting and then got help from one of the producers who was part of the team that optioned it. That really helped us. It’s been fun. Needless to say, it’s been a challenge with a big learning curve.
Have you had any time to write your own songs?
I have started writing another book, but I also have been concentrating on songs that pertain to the script. I’ve written a song that I think will be a good centerpiece for whatever my next record is. That song’s in Buddy Guy’s hands right now so he might end up recording it first. Also next year is the thirtieth anniversary of my album Del Rio, TX 1959.
Describe what you have planned.
There will be a Texas tour where we do that record top to bottom for the first ten songs. I think that’s a good milestone. I don’t know how it happened, but I have the gray hair to prove it. We’re trying to negotiate with Sony to see if they can do a push for that. That album has never been released on vinyl. That’s how quickly vinyl died. We had to fight to get them to put the first Foster and Lloyd album on CD. Then we had to fight with them to keep printing vinyl for the second. By the third record, they wouldn’t even talk to us about vinyl. Then Del Rio came after that. I think there are a bunch of fans out there who would love to see that on vinyl.
– Brian T. Atkinson
Photo above by Robert Lucas. L-R: Brian T. Atkinson, Jenni Finlay, Ryan Knaack, Brennen Leigh, Radney Foster, Noel McKay during Eight 30 Records’ recording sessions for The Messenger: A Tribute to Ray Wylie Hubbard.
Artist: Paul Thorn
Home town: Tupelo, Mississippi
Album: Never Too Late to Call
Release Date: August 6, 2021
Record Label: Perpetual Obscurity
Album’s common lyrical theme: “There’s a theme running throughout the record about people needing each other and reaching out to each other.” – Paul Thorn
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