Don Henley — lead singer and drummer of classic-rock icons the Eagles — has unveiled a new track from his upcoming country album, Cass County. Featuring guest vocals from Martina McBride, the new song is part of Henley’s first solo project in 15 years, recorded in Nashville with an all-star supporting cast.
Titled “That Old Flame,” the duet is built around the story of a long-separated couple wrestling with the idea of reigniting their romance. McBride contributes an inviting accompaniment, while a pumping beat and tip-toeing guitars back Henley’s signature vocals — sharp and precise but rough around the edges.
The song’s true-to-love lyrics reveal that neither character is really sure they want to get back together, but they both admit a spark remains.
“There is danger, in the embers/You have only yourself to blame/if you get burned when you try to rekindle/that old flame,” goes the chorus.
During a Q&A session in Nashville during this year’s CMA Music Festival, Henley told reporters that even though his new music should fit well in country fans’ playlists, he wasn’t attempting to “switch” genres. Instead, he sees the project as an extension of his roots.
“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,” he said. “I have ancestors in Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. So this is a natural progression for me. It’s not me trying to do the ‘Don Henley country album.’ It’s who I am and where I come from.”
The project will also include guest appearances by Merle Haggard, Mick Jagger, Alison Krauss, Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, Dolly Parton, Lucinda Williams and Trisha Yearwood, which Henley joked may have actually been a bad idea.
“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,'” he said. “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.'”
Cass County will be released September 25th, after which Henley will embark on a solo tour starting in October and including stops in Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Durham, North Carolina; Los Angeles; Nashville; New York City; Philadelphia; Port Chester, New York; San Francisco; Santa Barbara, California; Toronto and Washington, D.C.