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Dan Wilson performs songs from 'Re-Covered' in The Current studio

Dan Wilson performs songs from 'Re-Covered' in The Current's studio.
Dan Wilson performs songs from 'Re-Covered' in The Current's studio.Nate Ryan | MPR
  Play Now [27:54]

by Jill Riley and Brian Oake

August 09, 2017

Dan Wilson - When the Stars Come Out (Live on The Current)
by MPR
Dan Wilson - Not Ready to Make Nice (Live on The Current)
by MPR
Dan Wilson - Someone Like You (Live on The Current)
by MPR

The songs themselves may largely be his ideas, but Dan Wilson is quick to assign credit for his latest album, Re-Covered. "A friend of mine suggested in 2009 that I make this record," Wilson says. "She said, 'You need to make an album of the songs you've written with other people for their records, then you need to do your own versions.'

"But," Wilson continues, "she kind of warned me: 'The only thing is — you can't do some lazy, busker, acoustic-guitar, stripped-down, unplugged thing, which doesn't have a sound. You have to do something with a sonic idea. It has to have a reason to exist, sonically."

And it's for that reason Re-Covered was several years in the making. "I just didn't have enough to hang my hat on [back in 2009]," Wilson explains. "I didn't have enough songs whose purpose was really obvious, and whose reach was big enough. So I waited."

Now, after co-writing with artists as wide-ranging as Taylor Swift, Matt Wilson, Mike Doughty, LeAnn Rimes, John Legend, Adele, Josh Groban, Dixie Chicks, Chris Stapleton and others, Wilson felt ready to put Re-Covered out into the world, sharing the songs that came from those collaborations. Ahead of a show at the Fitzgerald Theater, Wilson — along with keyboardist Brad Gordon and percussionist Ken Chastain — stopped at The Current for an in-studio session hosted by Brian Oake and Jill Riley.

Illustrating the requisite raison d'être of a song, Wilson recounts his experience working with the Dixie Chicks on "Not Ready to Make Nice," which won Song of the Year at the 2007 Grammy Awards. "My pitch to them was, let's write something that takes the bull by the horns," Wilson recalls. "Let us just deal with the elephant in the room in a really blatant way, then we can call it dealt with, and we can write anything we want to: We can write about parenthood and we can write about any number of life experiences. But let's really try to confront this terrible incident of them being silenced by country radio."

In describing his ability to work across genres, Wilson says he doesn't concern himself too much with the style of a particular artist's music during the writing process, rather letting the full arrangement happen in the studio. "I like to just work with the abstract elements of the music and the words, the stuff you could write down on sheet music," Wilson says. "For me, when I'm working with somebody, usually it's somebody I'm a fan of already, and I usually have a kind of fannish notion of what I'd like to hear them talk about."

The experience of working with so many people and styles has taught Wilson to focus on those projects that are meaningful. "Whenever I've done something out of greed … those things have always failed, utterly," Wilson says. "Quite a while ago, I started really feeling like I had to trust my enthusiasm as the only great test whether I ought to do something. And I'm really enthusiastic about a lot of music."

Use the audio player above to hear the complete in-studio session with Dan Wilson.

This session was pre-recorded and will air on Sept. 22, 2017, when Wilson will perform a show at the Fitzgerald Theater in celebration of Recovered.

Songs Performed

"When the Stars Come Out"
"Not Ready to Make Nice"
"Someone Like You"
All songs from Dan Wilson's 2017 album, Re-Covered, available on Big Deal Music.

Hosted by Brian Oake and Jill Riley
Produced by Anna Reed
Engineered by Corey Schreppel
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Luke Taylor


Dan Wilson - official site