In one of the less likely collaborations in recent music history, Norah Jones and Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong have teamed up to record Foreverly, a track-for-track tribute to the Everly Brothers‘ 1958 album, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.
The album features reinterpreted versions of traditional songs like “Down in the Willow Garden” and the the often-covered “Barbara Allen” next to country classics like Karl Davis’ “Kentucky.” In a press release, Armstrong (a longtime Everly Brothers fan) says the project originated after he discovered Songs Our Daddy Taught Us a couple years go.
“I thought of Norah because she can sing anything, from rock to jazz to blues,” he says, “and I knew her harmonies would be amazing.”
Jones was enthusastic about the project, too, given her deep appreciation for the Everly Brothers and country music in general. The duo recorded the album in nine days at Manhattan studio the Magic Shop, working with engineer Chris Dugan. Armstrong and Jones split vocal duties (along with guitar and piano), and were accompanied by fiddle player Charlie Burnham, bassist Tim Luntzel, drummer Dan Rieser and pedal-steel guitarist Jonny Lam.
Armstrong and Jones told Stereogum that the process of making the album was similar to a “blind date.”
“We sang together with Stevie Wonder and his band and a whole bunch of people, that’s how Norah and I first met,” Armstrong says. “Then, well, I got into the Everly Brothers’ record a couple years ago, and I thought it was just beautiful. I was listening to it every morning for a while off and on. I thought it would be cool to remake the record because I thought it was sort of an obscure thing and more people should know about it, but I really wanted to do it with a woman singing because I thought it would take on a different meaning – maybe broaden the meaning a little bit – as compared to hearing the songs being sung by the two brothers. And so my wife said, ‘Why don’t you get Norah Jones to do it?’ and I was like, ‘Well, I kinda know her.’ Well, I mean, we had Stevie Wonder in common. And so I called her and she said yes.”
Armstrong acknowledged that singing vocal duo covers isn’t the sort of thing he usually does, but said that’s part of the appeal.
“The average listener might be like, ‘Well, that’s not punk rock’ or whatever in regards to this record, but I like doing different things – it’s fun, it makes life more interesting,” he said.
Foreverly will be released November 25th on Reprise Records. In the meantime, check out a stream of the graceful “Long Time Gone.”