Today would have been the 75th birthday of the legendary swamp-pop originator and songwriter Bobby Charles. In his honor, singer-songwriter Shannon McNally, along with producer and recent Grammy-winner Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack, has recorded Small Town Talk, a moving tribute to the genius of Bobby Charles and his catalog.
This morning, USA Today premiered a “sweet cover” of Charles’ “I Must Be In A Good Place Now” from McNally’s forthcoming album, which you can listen to HERE. “I Must Be in a Good Place Now” streaming widget available for embedding at: https://soundcloud.com/missingpiecegroup/shannon-mcnally-i-must-be-in.
The hit songs Bobby Charles wrote in the ’50s and ’60s including “See You Later, Alligator”, “Walking to New Orleans”, and “But I Do” were massive hits for artists like Fats Domino and Bill Haley & The Comets are indelible slices of early rock and roll. Writing for both black and white artists at a time in which segregation was still in full-force, Charles bucked convention and age – he was a still in his teens and early twenties when he wrote the bulk of his hits.
Charles followed his early songwriting success with a long and well-regarded career. He appeared with The Band during their legendary concert The Last Waltz, and recorded a duet of “Walking to New Orleans” with Fats Domino in the late ’90s. Bobby Charles was named to the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
Small Town Talk features 14 tracks penned by Charles that were handpicked by McNally, Rebennack, and Charles himself. The cover of “I Must Be In A Good Place Now” features Dr. John on piano, who was the pianist on the original version featured on Charles’ 1972 self-titled album.
“We got together with Bobby every day talking about songs and picking out the right ones to include,” says McNally about her meetings with him and Dr. John. “We ended up selecting ‘Long Face,’ ‘Small Town Talk,’ ‘Street People,’ ‘I Must Be In A Good Place Now,’ ‘But I Do’ and ‘Save Me Jesus’ as well as a few more obscure songs.” Other songs include “Cowboys and Indians” featuring Derek Trucks on guitar and “String of Hearts,” a duet with Vince Gill.
Small Town Talk will be released on April 30, 2013 via Sacred Sumac Records. (The vinyl version of the album will be released in advance on April 16th, in time for “Record Store Day” on April 20th). It was produced by Shannon McNally and Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack, with string arrangements by Wardell Quezergue.