Don Henley, the singer and drummer for the Eagles, will be releasing a country album called Cass County via Capitol Record—his first solo album in 15 years. This was the news coming out of an exclusive listening party held at the Ruby event space as part of this week’s CMA Fan Fest in Nashville, hosted by Beverly Keel. There is no release date for the album as of yet, but plenty of details were revealed about the album as part of the listening party, including an impressive list of collaborators and songwriters that will be included in the project.
Five years in the making, Cass County was quietly recorded in Nashville using top musicians. Cass County is a county in Texas near the Arkansas and Louisiana nexus where Don Henley grew up.
“I’m associated with California a lot because of that other band that I play in, but I really and truly was born and raised in Cass County, Texas. I’m a Southerner and a Texan,” Henley said during the listening party.
And don’t expect this to be an aging rocker looking for a second wind in country by chasing the current trends. The majority of the album was written by Henley and the original drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Stan Lynch, and is said to be drenched in steel guitar. “He and I both have an abiding appreciation for rock & roll and country music, and the history of it. I think that’s what’s missing from a lot of records today. They haven’t gone to school on the older stuff, and gone back to the early days of the genre. So we do that we talk about records and production and players. You’ve got to live and breathe this stuff. It’s not a hobby. It’s a calling. It’s something that we love doing.”
Other artists appearing or contributing songs to the project include:
- Merle Haggard
- Lucinda Williams
- The Louvin Brothers
- Martina McBride
- Trisha Yearwood
- Ashley Monroe
- Vince Gill
- Alison Krauss
- Dolly Parton
- Miranda Lambert
- Mick Jagger
- Tift Merritt
Jamey Johnson also says he was asked to sing on the album.
Songs written by others include Tift Merritt’s “Bramble Rose” on which Miranda Lambert and Mick Jagger both appear, and The Louvin Brothers “When I Stop Dreaming” arranged as a duet with Dolly Parton.
Other songs said to be included on the album are “Praying for Rain” with a choir featuring Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Ashley Monroe and Trisha Yearwood; “Train in the Distance”—a rootsy song with Lucinda Williams; “The Cost of Living” with Merle Haggard; “That Old Flame” with Marina McBride; and “Words Can Break Your Heart” with Trisha Yearwood.
“I woke up the other day and I said, ‘Oh my God. I really screwed up because when I play live, these people aren’t going to show up,'” Henley said at the event. “I chose people that I respect musically. People whose work I respect, whose voices I like, who are all great, authentic singers who can really sing when called upon to sing. Some of them are friends of mine and some of them I had never met before. I was flattered and flabbergasted when all of them said, ‘Yeah.'”
Henley plans to tour behind the album as well. Though it was recorded in Nashville, Cass County is being released by Capitol Records out of Los Angeles, not on Music Row.
“This is a natural progression for me,” Henley said. “It’s not me trying to do the ‘Don Henley country album.’ It’s who I am and where I come from.”