Cornel West and Joanne Woodward Star on "On The Rural Route 7609"
05.19.2009 - As has been previously reported, John's forthcoming box set "On The Rural
Route 7609" will include versions of some of his classic songs other then the
well known ones in general release. At least two of them are particularly
innovative takes on the material and are freshly recorded by two iconic
individuals who are not generally associated with music recordings.
Dr. Cornel West recites the lyrics to "Jim Crow" which originated as a duet with
Joan Baez on 2007's "Freedom Road." The renowned author/lecturer proves an
inspired pairing with John's lyric that addresses the tenacity of racism in
West's 1993 bestseller "Race Matters" established him as one of America's most
eloquent voices on the racial divide. In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, he
is called "the pre-eminent intellectual of our generation," and in its recent
"RS 100: Agents of Change" listing, the magazine called him "one of the most
eloquent - and entertaining - public intellectuals" and "our wisest voice on
race in the Age of Obama." His contribution to "Rural Route 7609," spoken in a
street-wise tone, was recorded in his office at Princeton where he serves as
University Professor in the Center for African American Studies.
Joanne Woodward, whom John called his favorite actress in his recent CMT Network
interview, likewise provides an emotionally charged reading of the lyrics to
"The Real LIfe" that give the key track from John's 1987 album "The Lonesome
Jubilee" a new perspective. The renowned actress, who received the "Best
Actress" Oscar for her work in "The Three Faces of Eve" and has been nominated
for her work in three other films, delivers the lines of the song in an accent
that reflects her Georgia birth. Now 79, Woodward turns the song's lyrics into
an urgent poem about once-young people approaching middle-age but still wanting
to live the real life "close to the bone" instead of sitting around the house
and watching television. The performance, recorded at her home in Westport, CT
is uniquely dramatic and touching.
The four-disc "On the Rural Route 7609" is due for release later this year.
Meanwhile, John is working on his next album of new material, tentatively-titled
"No Better Than This."