Andrew Bird Covers Townes Van Zandt's 'If I Needed You'
The Huffington Post is premiering Andrew Bird's cover of Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You." The track is from Bird's forthcoming Hands of Glory (due October 30 on Mom + Pop Music), a companion piece to the critically acclaimed full-length record Break It Yourself. The new record is the product of a pair of recording sessions prompted by the overwhelming response to Bird’s “old-time” sets on recent tours. Reinterpreting songs from Break It Yourself and featuring covers of classic country tunes, these “old-time” performances find Bird and his full band playing to a single microphone with an entirely acoustic setup. Drawing inspiration from these sets, Hands of Glory features two brand new original tracks, a new interpretation of “Orpheo Looks Back” from Break It Yourself and covers of Van Zandt, the Handsome Family, Alpha Consumer and others.
“The past three summers now we’ve had these band get-togethers at my barn in western Illinois,” Bird recalls. “They begin with little more pretense than to capture the way we make music together. After a few days sleeping, eating and jamming under one roof we get increasingly inspired and ambitious about what we’re doing.” Of recording the new record, he notes that, “Hands of Glory begins with two songs we actually recorded in a church in Louisville on a day off on our July tour. The rest was recorded around a single microphone at the barn in August. We ended up putting the drums on the back porch. I hated to exile Martin like that but it just sounded better. ‘Something Biblical’ I started writing in July well into the severe drought that hit the Midwest this summer. I kept having dreams of a great flood. Nothing biblical—just a local deluge. The day we left the barn it rained pretty hard.”
Bird is currently on tour in anticipation of Hands of Glory. This winter he will reprise his intimate solo “Gezelligheid” performances, bringing them to Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church December 19-20 and, for the first time, New York’s Riverside Church December 10. Appropriating a Dutch term that loosely translated means “cozy,” the performances concentrate mainly on instrumental violin pieces amplified only by Bird’s signature giant Victrola horns. Bird notes, “What I hope to do with these shows is adapt my music completely to the atmosphere of the space and the season. I want the audience to be both lifted and comforted as we head into another cold and dark winter. I feel the space should be sacred so the audience can experience my music in a different atmosphere.” Bird will also be performing with his full band at Minneapolis’ State Theater December 17; please see below for a list of dates.
Since its Billboard Top 10 debut, Break It Yourself has continued to receive rave reviews. In celebration of the record’s release Bird appeared on “The Colbert Report” (stream the video at http://bit.ly/weFuiE), “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” (stream the video at http://bit.ly/He1rUR) and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (stream the video at http://abc.tv/JqPLyy) as well as NPR’s “Weekend Edition.” The press has gone on to hail Break It Yourself as “a quiet, careful grower…it blooms into something beautiful” (NPR Music), “perfect for the sensitive souls among us” (Newsweek) and “a shimmering collection of clever and carefully constructed songs,” (The New Yorker), while Rolling Stone raves that “[Bird’s] emotional urgency energizes his fluid multi-instrumental elocution,” USA Today calls it a “swoon-worthy set of rapturous tunes that bristle with embraceable eccentricities” and TIME praises Bird’s “delightful pop songs disguised as beautiful violin and whistle-laden ballads.”
Produced by Bird, Break It Yourself was recorded at his barn in Western Illinois near the banks of the Mississippi River. Paired with the album’s deluxe CD package is the DVD Here’s What Happened. The thirty-minute performance film was shot at Bird’s barn during the recording of the album and captures the energy of the room in which the new release was conceived. Footage from Here’s What Happened of Bird performing the track “Eyeoneye” can be viewed at http://bit.ly/GNr9gi.
Chicago-based film score composer, multi-instrumentalist and lyricist Andrew Bird picked up his first violin at the age of four and spent his formative years soaking up classical repertoire completely by ear. As a teen Bird became interested in a variety of styles including early jazz, country blues and gypsy music, synthesizing them into his unique brand of pop. Since beginning his recording career in 1997 he has released 11 albums, his first solo record Weather Systems coming in 2003. Bird has gone on to record with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Most recently Bird composed his first ever film score for the movie Norman (hailed as “a probing, thoughtful score” by The New York Times; available now on Mom + Pop), contributed to the soundtrack of The Muppets and collaborated with inventor Ian Schneller on Sonic Arboretum, an installation at New York’s Guggenheim Museum and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
ANDREW BIRD, HANDS OF GLORY
1. Three White Horses
2. When That Helicopter Comes
4. Railroad Bill
5. Something Biblical
6. If I Needed You
8. Beyond the Valley of the Three White Horses
ANDREW BIRD TOUR
October 9 Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts Tampa, FL*
October 10 House of Blues Orlando, FL*
October 12 House of Blues Houston, TX*
October 13 Austin City Limits Festival Austin, TX
December 10 Riverside Church New York, NY?
December 17 State Theater Minneapolis, MN
December 19-20 Fourth Presbyterian Church Chicago, IL?
* with Here We Go Magic
? Gezelligheid performance