Review – John Anderson “Something Borrowed” Tribute
Compiling a tribute record cannot be an easy exercise, especially one that’s actually worth listening to. Getting a bunch of musicians pointed in the right direction with their complicated schedules and competing egos has to be like herding cats. Poor Dan Auerbach of Easy Eye Sound is the guy to has to say, “No, we can’t have seven different versions of ‘Seminole Wind’ on this thing.” He then has to call in favors to get folks into the studio. “Hey Eric Church, ‘member when you and Morgan Wallen got caught with that dead body and I brought you a shovel and a bag of lime? Well get over here and cut me a version of ‘Mississippi Moon,’ mkay?”
Then of course there is the question if whatever you end up with is actually worth listening to, especially when the subject is someone like John Anderson. When he sang a song, it had done been sung. His distinct voice that sounds like it’s run through a wah-wah guitar pedal squeezes the emotion out of every moment, and puts a distinctive and definitive mark on every track he ever cut. How is any artists supposed to compete with that?
But it’s up to both the contributors and the audience to shift into a different gear when approaching a compilation such as this. There will be some hits and misses, and nothing will be as good as the original. But that’s not the point. The point is to pay tribute, and the performers who either volunteered or that Dan Auerbach was able to strong arm into participating is really a big part of the story. It’s a cross section of some of the greatest, and most important country artists of our current time, stratified across the independent/mainstream divide.
Some will ask why John Anderson’s contemporaries from the neotraditionalist movement of the 80s didn’t make it into the track list. But I’m not sure that’s the point of an exercise like this. When it works at its best, the country music ecosystem requires younger artists to pay their dues and study the old greats as they’re coming up. This not only ensures the circle remains unbroken, it also exposes younger audiences to the older greats. Wrangling Tyler Childers, Sturgill Simpson, Sierra Ferrell, as well as Luke Combs, Eric Church, and Ashley McBryde for this thing was a feat unto itself, and makes it worth paying attention to if nothing else.
The fact that this tribute starts off with an unheard recording of John Prine who’s been gone now for two years now speaks to just how long it takes to put something like this together. It’s also one of the multiple reasons this is not just ‘another’ tribute record. A lot of love went into this one, including full production videos for some of the songs, including the 2nd and 3rd tracks from Sierra Ferrell and Brent Cobb, which might be the album’s best.
Sierra Ferrell threw a slight curveball by not picking a classic. She instead goes with Anderson’s recent comeback song “Years,” and really hits it out of the park as a stripped down country tune. It sounds cliché, but the best cover songs are the ones the artist “makes it their own,” and that what Brent Cobb does with “Wild and Blue,” picking up on the Louisiana inflections in the original version, and expanding on them with accordion and Cajun triangle.
Eric Church turns in an extra funky version of “Mississippi Mud,” and Luke Combs—who won the arm wrestling contest to record “Seminole Wind”—takes a more contemporary approach to his track. Of the mainstream contributors, Ashley McBryde’s “Straight Tequila Night” might be the best, even though some of the production feels a bit like adult contemporary. John Anderson was a true country artist, but this compilation doesn’t feel especially “country.” It’s more of an amalgam of styles that rotate around country, like the folky version of David Rawlings and Gillian Welch doing “I Just Came Home to Count The Memories,” embellished with strings.
Tyler Childers is as big of an artist as any at this point, and more elusive than most. But Auerbach and co-producer David Ferguson coaxed him into the studio for a version of “Shoot Low Sheriff!” If you know Childers, you know sometimes he delivers things with a little tongue-in-cheek attitude, despite a deadpan countenance. Remember, he’s got a song out there about masturbation that he dresses up as a heartfelt love song.
The Saturday after Something Borrowed, Something New was released, the Grand Ole Opry paid tribute to John Anderson as well. When Anderson was an aspiring artist, he helped put the roof on the Grand Ole Opry House as a construction worker, peering down through the beams where the stage would be, wondering if he’d ever have an opportunity to play there.
“I want to say what an honor it is to be up here standing with this young man. In my opinion, he’s one of the greatest singers and songwriters to come along in a long time. Y’all are gonna be hearing a lot from this young man,” Anderson said about Tyler Childers on the Opry. I think we already have heard a lot from Childers, with a lot of folks wondering when we will hear more. Natalie Stovall also very briefly interviewed Childers afterwards. Thankfully Bobby Bones was off having his taint waxed or something and wasn’t there Saturday night throwing a wet rag over everything.
But maybe the biggest takeaway from this tribute album is the Sturgill Simpson track. His song, “When It Comes To You,” takes a bit of a bluesy approach. Again, this tribute doesn’t feel especially “country,” with a lot of organ/keyboard in the mix as opposed to pedal steel. But it’s Sturgill’s voice that feels like it’s worth remarking on. Remember, he suffered a vocal chord injury, and since then he hasn’t really performed or released any new material. It’s not that his voice is bad or better, but if you’ve been listening to him for years, it definitely sounds different. I’m unsure if this song was recorded before or after his surgery, or perhaps during the time when he was having issues.
Like all tributes, you take away the songs that appeal to you, and probably never think about the others again. It’s a grab bag. But the point here was to put John Anderson back in the spotlight after years of neglect by the mainstream country industry, and Dan Auerbach deserves a pat on the back for this if nothing else. This album was probably meant to come out closer to Anderson’s Years album released in 2020, or to coincide with it. But with COVID and everything, better late than never for this tribute album that’s more good than bad.
1 1/2 Guns Up (7.5/10)
– – – – – – – – – – – –
Purchase from Easy Eye Sound
Purchase from Amazon
August 8, 2022 @ 8:11 am
The Sierra Ferrell song is top notch. What other songs of hers do y’all recommend?
Also, Wild and Blue by JA is one hell of a song. I wasnt familiar with 80s JA apparently.
August 8, 2022 @ 8:26 am
I only knew “Wild and Blue” from the Steel Woods. Love all three versions now.
August 8, 2022 @ 3:48 pm
Alan jackson had that song on his bluegrass album he did also which is excellent. I think that one and “Mississippi moon” are my favorite of his
August 9, 2022 @ 2:54 pm
Also check out Lucinda Williams’ version (the Eindhoven version) . So good
August 8, 2022 @ 8:27 am
Her album “Long Time Coming” really doesn’t have a bad track. But if you really want to go down the Sierra Ferrell rabbit hole, it’s her videos that really sell her best. Her magic is best captured in live action.
August 8, 2022 @ 8:39 am
Bojack, try this one.
Sierra is extremely versatile. Wickedly talented.
The singing and camp in this video remind me so much of Cher’s, Dark Lady.
i guess she & Billy Strings were on stage together, a couple days ago?
August 8, 2022 @ 6:34 pm
Correct they were out for Hinterland and there’s several videos out there of them together doing Bells of Every Chapel and One Loaf of Bread together. Definitely reccomend those
August 8, 2022 @ 8:22 am
Not inviting Josh Turner, a huge John Anderson fan and close friend, was a missed opportunity.
August 8, 2022 @ 11:00 am
Josh Turner is not edgy or popular enough for this tribute.
Hence why it is a disappointment.
August 8, 2022 @ 11:41 am
I agree, Josh Turner should have been included. As well as Alan Jackson, who cut his own versions of two of Anderson’s songs.
August 8, 2022 @ 11:55 am
Dan Auerbach has no idea who Josh Turner is, let alone someone like Mo Pitney, who would be perfect for a compilation like this. This album was built out from the artist clique centered around the old Butcher Shoppe recording studio run by David “Fergie” Ferguson in Nashville, which was adjacent to where John Prine and Sturgill Simpson shared an office, and where Tyler Childers recorded “Purgatory” produced by Sturgill.
But with all these tribute albums, you have to take them for what they are. The simple fact is a lot of Sturgill/Tyler/Sierra/Eric Church/ Luke Combs fans do not know who John Anderson is. This is their entry point. You put Josh Turner, Tracy Lawrence, Alan Jackson, Mo Pitney, and Steve Wariner on this, John Anderson fans will probably enjoy it more, but it’s really not conveying the knowledge of John Anderson to a younger/other constituency. There are a lot of Sierra Ferrell fans listening to John Anderson’s “Years” album right now that never would have otherwise.
August 8, 2022 @ 12:15 pm
Years is still one of my favorite albums released in the last few years. Everyone should listen to it
August 8, 2022 @ 4:39 pm
I dont get excited about tribute albums. Most arent worth the effort, except perhaps to enlighten newer people. No one does John Anderson better than John Anderson.
I did just watch the Opry special, so i can comment on that. What was good: Sierra Farrell chose to sing Down in Tennessee. My almost favorite cut from John. It gets totally overlooked in his catalog. A great melody is part of what is missing in todays ” music”. Sierra didnt top John by any means, but it was pretty. The opening with him singing Billy Joe Shaver was great. Anderson actually had a hit with it in the early years. Elizabeth Cook sounded good. The closing was Anderson showcasing Auerbach and Kings guitar prowess, which is impressive. However, it was rock guitar and most assuredly not country guitar. A quibble, though i enjoyed it.
The bad: no Joe Spivey. Hes the fiddle player for Anderson. Hes an Opry picker, he should have been there. Love Eamon and hes great, but needed to see Spivey.
Overlooked songs from Anderson: Black Sheep, Let Somebody Else Drive. Deep cuts that need to see the light of day.
Yes, it wasnt who i would script for a tribute, however, this has resuscitated his career and somebody had to do it. Kudos to Auerbach for doing this.
August 8, 2022 @ 6:47 pm
They’ve recorded two songs together, “White Noise” from the “Your Man” album and “I’ve Got it Made” from the “Country State of Mind” album.
Josh gives John props in interviews more than anyone else I’ve heard of.
August 8, 2022 @ 8:27 am
We were at the Opry Saturday night for the tribute. What a great show! All the performances were fantastic, and the sound was the best I’ve heard in any venue. Every word and note was crisp and clear, and the volume was just right.
August 8, 2022 @ 8:46 am
I have never been much into tribute albums as I prefer the original versions. I much prefer to hear Anderson singing these songs but the guests on this album do well. This album does highlight many of the great songs sung by one of the great country singers. It is a well deserved tribute and John Anderson really does deserve the attention. Looking forward to new music from him. His last album Years deserved much greater attention that it got. John Anderson for me is one of country musics greats and deserving of far more credit than he has got.
August 8, 2022 @ 9:10 am
Thought Sturgill’s voice sounded the way it always has. Excellent cover.
August 8, 2022 @ 9:28 am
“John Anderson was a true country artist, but this compilation doesn’t feel especially “country.” It’s more of an amalgam of styles that rotate around country”
This is probably a good thing overall. There such an array of styles from each artist on here that it would have taken away from the project to force them all to sounds more like the originals. Also Sierra Ferrell knocked it out of the park, I would like to see her play “Years” live.
David: The Duke of Everything
August 8, 2022 @ 9:44 am
It’s a little rough but I actually like the prine cover of 1959. The wild n blue cover was great as well. Otherwise I thought it was ok. The thing about Anderson’s library of music to me, just my opinion, is that there is a big disparity from his great stuff to his other stuff I consider not that great. It’s not uncommon for performers that only had a short window of fame or small library but usually with guys that were big and have a larger library, I tend to like a lot of their stuff, even stuff that wasn’t a hit or released as singles but not with John.
August 8, 2022 @ 9:57 am
Any new Tyler Childers music is a w for me
August 8, 2022 @ 9:59 am
As a huge John Anderson fan, l wondered how successful a tribute album would be. I think your review sums up my feelings about not only this one, but tribute albums in general. Your comment “It’s a grab bag” is the perfect summation. Really liked the Brent Cobb, Sturgill Simpson and Ashley McBryde cuts so far. Simpson’s voice does sound drastically different to me, and not for the worse. And as soon as I heard McBryde’s take, l wondered if there was any thought of having her perform it in first person – it may have been even more powerful.
August 8, 2022 @ 11:57 am
I very rarely review tribute albums, because it’s just so hard with so many contributors, and frankly, they usually come and go with little attention and importance. They went all out on this one though, especially with the promotion. I do believe some of the stronger tracks will be enjoyed for years to come.
August 8, 2022 @ 10:05 am
Off topic but any other New Englanders catching Charley Crockett shows this week?
August 8, 2022 @ 10:35 am
Outlaw Fest in NY this weekend!!
August 8, 2022 @ 10:51 am
Nice! You’ll be seeing more artists than me – I’m catching him at a club. I don’t how long he’ll be still doing club dates but I’m psyched.
Have a good time!!
August 8, 2022 @ 12:06 pm
Dairen Lake? We’ll be driving up from SW PA Saturday. Neither of us have ever been to Buffalo. We caught a different lineup up (Willie and ZZ Top the only carryovers) a week ago Sunday here.
It will be my first time seeing Crockett. I’m hoping seeing him live converts me.
August 8, 2022 @ 12:40 pm
Bethel Woods. My first country concert. I was supposed to see John Prine in 2019 but it was canceled due to weather. Seeing Willie is definitely on my bucket list. Zach Bryan, Crockett, and ZZ Top are absolute bonuses.
August 8, 2022 @ 3:41 pm
“It will be my first time seeing Crockett. I’m hoping seeing him live converts me.”
My conversion came from watching him on Austin City Limits, I thought “I have to see him live” after that.
August 8, 2022 @ 4:03 pm
I live about ten minutes from there. It’s a weird venue in the middle of nowhere and getting out is a true nightmare. I’m probably not going but if you need any tips I’ll send you over my email here email@example.com can hopefully help you out with questions you may have.
August 8, 2022 @ 10:05 am
Great tribute, nice write up. Really enjoyed these covers. The auto tune on opening two verses of Seminole Wind was a little much. Wish they would have dialed they back. Who knows, maybe it’s just my ears or speakers.
August 8, 2022 @ 2:27 pm
Maybe Luke wasn’t sounding good on the day he recorded that track and needed a little studio help. The Auto-Tune was the first thing that hit my ears upon first listen. If Luke is using it routinely on his studio recordings, it’s certainly being hidden well.
August 8, 2022 @ 10:26 am
It’s not all that surprising that Sturgill Simpson would “take a bit of a bluesy approach” on “When It Comes To You.”
That song was by Mark Knopfler and originally issued on Dire Straits’ 1991 album “On Every Street.” Knopfler actually played guitar on Anderson’s cover version issued on the “Seminole Wind” album shortly afterward. Knopfler’s playing was, no doubt, a meaningful factor in the Anderson recording becoming a major hit single.
I’d bet that Strurgill was familiar with both the “Dire Straits” and Anderson versions of the song and was influenced by both.
August 8, 2022 @ 12:41 pm
I think it is pretty good. I understand what they were going for, but at the same time it is a little odd to hear a tribute album and you have at least two or three signature songs of an artist that are not included. Some really top notch performances though on this album. I thought Sturgill sounded really good, his voice seemed very at ease, like there was no strain to it at all. I have always preferred Sturgill to Tyler and the primary reason is I think Sturgill has a generational voice and Tyler’s voice is not as good when compared, however you are never sure at times exactly what Sturgill is going to do musically.
August 8, 2022 @ 12:43 pm
Great review. Thanks.
Are there any more recordings by John Prine that are scheduled or expected to be released?
August 8, 2022 @ 1:27 pm
I don’t know of any. “I Remember Everything” was said to be his last recorded song, but that alludes that maybe he had more written material laying around.
August 8, 2022 @ 1:08 pm
The best John Anderson tribute album is one sang by John Anderson. That being said, this is a unique offering and kudos for the attention it will bring.
August 8, 2022 @ 1:24 pm
I just listened, and I must say, I’m somewhat disappointed. Perhaps because I like the originals too much. I loved, for example, when they put out Commonwealth in the 90s, but I never listened to the Eagles. Now, I just hear things that are not nearly as good as the source they came from.
August 8, 2022 @ 2:05 pm
And yet all these famous artists,and not one of them was able to do Swingin or Tokyo Oklahoma. Shamefull. Just one of the reasons I avoid tribute albums.
King Honky Of Crackershire
August 8, 2022 @ 2:42 pm
Piss all over this, and all over every person who took part in it. And I mean soak ‘em down.
August 8, 2022 @ 9:06 pm
We can always count on the self-professed religious morlist to add something hateful, vulgar, and demented to the proceedings.
King Honky Of Crackershire
August 9, 2022 @ 4:43 am
What a weird reaction. Where I come from, my comment is just a funny and hyperbolic way to say, “This stinks.”, or “I don’t like this.” There isn’t a moral component. I apologize if I hurt your feelings, but can you please try not to be so uptight?
August 8, 2022 @ 4:36 pm
I really hope I am wrong here…but I do not expect new music from Tyler Childers anytime soon. His wife and him are having a kid. Combine that with the fact most of the members of the food stamps have other projects going on (el dorado, local honeys record, etc.) makes me think there is nothing new on the horizon.
August 8, 2022 @ 9:17 pm
He has plenty of unreleased material to put together something with the band and/or solo.
August 8, 2022 @ 5:50 pm
As hard as it would be for some to accept, music will not die if Tyler Childers disappears. Not saying I want to see that, but good grief get a grip.
August 8, 2022 @ 6:05 pm
Spot on. I watched Childers on this Opry tribute. I had never heard the song he and Anderson sang, though i liked it. Childers neither added or subtracted to it. He was wooden in my estimation. Ive never seen him as messianic to country music, though i find him to be a talent. I do agree hes authentic, but the insane obsession with him i still cannot grasp. But thats just one lunkheads opinion. Haha.
August 8, 2022 @ 8:13 pm
I don’t think there is an insane obsession with Tyler Childers. I think there is a lot of attention being paid to him because what he continues to do is unprecedented, and if anything, not enough is being made about how unprecedented it is. An artist like Tyler Childers is not supposed to be beating out multiple recent albums from artists such as Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan with an album that turned five years old last week. Entire eras of music used to not last five years. And he could be selling out arenas if he so chose to. Instead he’s showing up to the Opry to tribute John Anderson. The same goes with Zach Bryan. It may not be your cup of tea, but when they’re upstaging the mainstream in such unprecedented and consistent ways, it’s going to draw attention, at least from me, especially since the rest of country media, and entertainment media isn’t covering it at all.
August 8, 2022 @ 9:33 pm
The quantity of quality songs that TC has is what sets him apart IMO. He’s sitting on records worth of unreleased gems.
August 8, 2022 @ 10:34 pm
Sturgill, Ashley and Brent Cobb were the highlights for me. It’s always good to get new recording from Jamey Johnson when you can get one.
August 9, 2022 @ 7:36 am
Word is Tyler’s next album is a gospel album
August 15, 2022 @ 10:35 pm
That tracks. I saw Tyler Childers at Wile Nelson’s 4th of July picnic and he sang mostly new songs that had a gospel feel/subject matter.
August 9, 2022 @ 1:38 pm
If nothing else, the tribute opened my eyes to Shoot Low, Sheriff and Low Dog Blues off John Anderson’s debut album. I’ve been spinning that and John’s second album a bunch the past few days. Kudos to Dan Auerbach for this not totally being different takes of the greatest hits albums.
August 9, 2022 @ 10:03 pm
It’s just a good album. I think it did what it set out to do. Really cool when u think of who is on it and what they do. Just good and u can nitpick if y want but I enjoyed it
August 10, 2022 @ 9:22 am
+1 for the Bobby Bones taint-waxing reference.
Bear Mace Rob
August 10, 2022 @ 1:00 pm
Luke Combs Seminole wind was definitely a disappointment. Luke combs was obviously gonna get the nod to record this track if he wanted it considering his stature, but I don’t believe he did it justice. It doesn’t sound like production that Auerbach would’ve given the thumbs up to.. too bad missed opportunity. OCMS or Josh Turner would’ve been great, but I get it
Bear Mace Rob
August 11, 2022 @ 7:48 am
Give JA’s incredibly unique voice and style I think that this is as good as I could have hoped for . There are some genuinely good covers that stand alone from JA’s versions. Sierra Farrell putting her gypsy vagabond touch for example, or Brent Cobb putting some Levon Helm onto his Wild & Blue. I’m bewildered as to how nobody covered “swingin'” that seems like an obvious hole in his catalog where any JA fan would wonder where that was. It would’ve been a tough one to cover well but I know randy houser used to cover it and his voice would have sounded great on that
August 11, 2022 @ 7:32 pm
I found this tribute album touching but wanting. But it did get me thinking — is there no tribute album to Randy Travis? I can’t find one. I can’t think of a single artist that deserves a tribute album more than Randy Travis.
August 15, 2022 @ 4:22 pm
Great job on Wild and Blue but the best version is by Hank Williams Jr. on the Major Moves album.
August 15, 2022 @ 10:30 pm
It’s a beautiful record but of course my copy was pressed by an incompetent record plant where they don’t know how to press records. It skipped 5 times on the Tyler Childers song alone, a couple times on Seminole Wind (Luke Combs) and three times on Sierra Ferrel’s version of Years. I’m so tired of buying new records that skip straight outta the sleeve! This record was probably pressed at the same plant that produces Tom Waits records with a 50 percent failure rate. This was bought for me as a gift by wife for our anniversary and now I’m going to have to have to return it and pray that the next copy I get was pressed by someone who knows what the hell they are doing. No complaints about the tracklist or performances though, which are stellar. I’m just venting because I’ve been looking forward to spinning this record and now I gotta send it back and hope the next copy is a good one. Anyone else receive a defective vinyl copy of the record?
Wendi Wonderly RN aka bigbadnurse
December 30, 2022 @ 5:45 pm
Ack in the 90s ( the second wave of classic country) I took care of a young disabled man in his home. He had complications of diabetes and had poor eyesight. He spent much time watching CMT because he could follow the music. He and I had a friendly rivalry with country music. He liked “new country” like Tim McGraw or Garth brooks. I preferred the legacy artists like Johnny cash, willie Nelson, or emmylou Harris. One artist we always agreed on was Jon Anderson. We both loved his music. Finally perry had one last massive stroke and he went to the land of the Seminoles. His wife played it at his memorial service. He was 36 years old. I wish Jon Anderson had known how much his music meant to us. Perry would be 63 in heaven now and I still miss him