Rod Stewart Looks Ahead to Country Record LP, Possible Jeff Beck Album - Rolling Stone
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Rod Stewart: ‘I’m Trying to Put Together a Country Record’

Hall of Famer also discusses reuniting with Jeff Beck and the possibility of a Bohemian Rhapsody-styled biopic

Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart is in the early stages of plotting out his first country album, which could contain a cover of a super obscure Bob Dylan song.

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Rod Stewart is still weeks away from the release of his new symphonic LP You’re in My Heart: Rod Stewart with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but he’s already looking ahead to his next record. “I’m trying to put together a country record,” he tells Rolling Stone. “Not just country music, but folk music and older stuff I was brought up on. It’s an opportunity to let people hear another side of me.”

He hasn’t picked out the exact songs he wants to record on the LP yet, but he’s eying the deeply obscure 1963 Bob Dylan studio outtake “Walls of Red Wing” alongside Willie Nelson covers and a few Irish Uprising folk songs. “I want to do songs that aren’t necessarily catchy,” he says, “but have the most wonderful lyrics. One reason I want to do it is because my wife says she always loves it when I do my acoustic set in concert because she can really hear me sing as opposed to the rock & roll stuff.”

He went back to some of his earliest rock roots in late September when he reunited with Jeff Beck for a special show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. It was the first time the former Jeff Beck Group bandmates had played together since a surprise two-song set at L.A.’s El Rey Theater in 2009. They did five songs this time, including some they hadn’t done in decades like “Morning Dew,” “Blues Deluxe” and “Rock My Plimsoll.”

“It was everything I wanted it to be and, I think, everything that Jeff wanted it to be,” says Stewart. “The sound we get with just his guitar and my voice is quite remarkable. We filled the room. I sort of stood back and didn’t do any of my jumping around onstage. I wanted it to be his evening and I think it worked.”

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Stewart says they kept rehearsals to a bare minimum even though Beck had to adjust the songs to accommodate Rod’s current singing voice. “No singer can sing as high as they did 40 or 50 years ago,” he says. “The voice naturally drops a little bit. Mine has only dropped a half a tone, but he had to learn things he knew in new keys. All the keys I was singing in were not great for the guitar, but he did it anyway and he sounded fabulous.”

No more shows with Beck are in the works, however, as Stewart remains on the road with a run of UK arenas the month, a long string of Las Vegas shows throughout 2020 and an Australian tour that fall. He’s also having his right knee replaced in January, which will force him to work hard to be back in touring shape for the Vegas kickoff on March 6th.

Despite all of that, he still think it’s possible that next year he’ll find the time to play another show or two with Beck. Recording a new album with him, however, is a very different situation. They tried about a decade ago and abandoned the project very quickly. “We’ve got opinions that don’t seem to blend somehow, my idea of what an album should be and his,” he says. “It doesn’t work. We both want to take the helm, so one of us has to stand down.”

As he says this, an idea flashes into his head. “I just though of this,” he says. “The answer to that would be to find a producer. And then we can just work on the material. We can get in the studio and do it. That would be a great idea because Jeff fancies himself a bit of a producer and so do I. Maybe it would be good to get someone neutral in. Put that out there for me. Maybe that will bring us together and we’d have to listen like a couple of schoolboys.”

A biopic is also in the realm of possibility. “I’d love to do that,” he says. “My two youngest boys are 8 and 10. They say, ‘Dad, we look like you! We can be the young you!’ I’d love to see it happen. I wouldn’t want to do it like Elton’s [movie Rocketman]. That turned out a bit like Mama Mia!, but the Queen one [Bohemian Rhapsody] was bloody marvelous. I loved it. Now, whether it will or won’t happen, I don’t know. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”

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