Could anything possibly feel better than being “in heaven making love on a Saturday night?” Jonathan Wilson thinks not.
“I wanted to write a song about a perfect evening, something worth remembering,” Wilson says. “A song about carrying letters of rock ’n’ roll freedom all over the world.”
“In Heaven Making Love” is the latest slice of Americana regalia from Wilson’s seventh album, “Dixie Blur,” due March 6. The album found the L.A.-based North Carolina native — widely respected for his production (Father John Misty, Dawes, Conor Oberst, Laura Marling, Leslie Stevens), songwriting and skills as a side player (Roger Waters) — working in Nashville to find what he calls “the sound of my home.”
Last year, Wilson appeared on the live music radio show eTown. “It was sort of bluegrass-based,” he says, “and on this particular show I was playing with Steve Earle. Next thing you know, I’m talking with Steve about recording.” Earle advised that Wilson take his new songs to Nashville and to take advantage of the studios and session players. “And that’s how I got into the idea of going to Nashville and tapping into that sound,” Wilson says.
Pat Sansone of Wilco produced the new album, made in Studio A at the Sound Emporium, the late country maverick Cowboy Jack Clement’s studio.
The rollicking new single includes some tasty fiddle from the renowned Mark O’Connor, the three-time Grammy winner and Country Music Association musician of the year for six years in a row. “I was thinking about fiddle as being an integral part of the record, and I needed to find the best,” Wilson says. “In my mind the best of the best was Mark O’Connor. So I decided to reach out to him. I said, ‘Hey man, I’m doing a session, would you like to come down and play fiddle?’ and he’s like, ‘Thank you, but I haven’t done a session since 1990.’ So, he didn’t say no and he didn’t say yes! Over time, he eventually said, ‘Maybe, but my only stipulation is it’s got to be with the band, no overdubs. That’s what drove me out of the session business.’ That was a big deal to all of us. Mark truly elevates the record and he shines as the most brilliant fiddler on Earth. I thank him for his beautiful melodies on this album.”
Joining O’Connor as contributors on “Dixie Blur” are bassist Dennis Crouch, pedal steel player Russ Pahl and multi-instrumentalist Jim Hoke. The album earned its title from the fact it was made in just six days. “It was so fast it was a blur,” Wilson says. “And there really is a magic that occurs when musicians play together in a room and create that one consistent thing in time, something is created by the collective energy that is impossible to recreate otherwise.”
||| Stream: “In Heaven Making Love” and “So Alive”
||| Also: Watch the video for “69 Corvette”
||| Live: Jonathan Wilson plays March 6 and March 7 at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever.