Ronnie Dunn will be the first to admit it: things got “out of hand” with his latest project.
The country star’s label, Big Machine, wanted Dunn to participate in an experiment for the streaming market. What if he recorded covers of three or four classic rock songs – the kind of stuff for a long time Brooks & dunn fans might appreciate too – to see how they would fare on Spotify and the like?
Dunn was gone. Very game, it turns out. He spent two days in the studio, and he and a team of top musicians had a blast. He decided he needed to give the folks at Big Machine an update.
“I called the guys at the label and said, ‘Do you know those three or four songs that we were doing? I am up to 12 years old and I think I will continue. There was only silence on the phone and I knew from the start that I was in trouble.
Don’t worry, things worked out – otherwise Dunn wouldn’t have just released “Re-Dunn,” an epic 24-track rock and country collection that sees him tackle everything from “I’m Not in Love “from 10cc to Tom Petty’s” I Will Not Back Down “,” Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress “by the Hollies and” Wonderful Tonight “by Eric Clapton.
Virtually every song has been handpicked by Dunn. Some, like Ace’s “How Long,” come from a personal playlist he keeps called Groovy, “which dates from me,” he laughs.
Others were songs he covered long before he rose to fame with Brooks & Dunn. Ten years before George Strait made Amarillo By Morning a success, it was a modest success for his co-author, Terry Stafford, in 1973.
It was among the songs Dunn covered during his college days in Abilene, TX – he and his friends toured neighboring VFWs on weekends, unbeknownst to the “strict” Abilene Christian University. .
Meanwhile, country listeners might be surprised to learn that Dunn was simultaneously rocking on Electric Light Orchestra around this time: The band’s “Showdown” is also on “Re-Dunn”.
“Every generation has their songs, but there was a day, and maybe it is still relevant today, what if you were a country singer and confessed to listening to stuff like that?” You’re out of the ordinary, man. You are not one of us. But this is no longer the case.
“I love all the songs that I have done,” continues Dunn. “With some of them, I walked up to the plate and swung the bat, and I probably could have done better, because you’re not going to beat all of those classic performances. But I also needed to challenge myself as a singer. There is a lifespan for my voice, and I’m getting to the point where I realize it. He hasn’t touched yet, but he’s going to. I have to get some of these things out of my system, selfishly, before it’s too late.
And it looks like he’s not quite done – uh, done – yet. As Dunn looks back on the sessions, there is at least one song he couldn’t cross off his list.
“I was like, ‘You know, let’s go jump off a cliff and try’ Layla ‘. ‘And everyone in the room is like,’ It won’t happen, ‘”he recalls, laughing. “I think if I ever do any of these again, I’ll try ‘Layla’ right off the bat. I’m just going to camp on it and see what happens. “