Except for "Julia," penned solely by Hancock, the remaining dozen songs were written by the trio, but it still was not at all clear the songs would turn into an album, according to Ely.
"We we first started writing all these songs, we didn't think of it as being a record. When we got together, there were a couple of days we just recorded a bunch of stuff - that we knew could possibly fit into a record if it came to pass. We probably did another 15 songs that weren't on the record."
And sometimes, the studio process altered the final results. "For a long time, Iwas singing the lead on 'Right Where I Belong,'" says Hancock. "All of us realized that's one of them that everybody needs to a do a verse on."
"Wavin' My Heart Goodbye" was another example of how fluid the process proved to be.
"We started it as a kind of country two-step kind of song," says Ely. "I guess we played it, but it didn't want to do that kind of country thing as it evolved, and we recorded it. I think we recorded it maybe three times, and we realized it needed to be kind of a bluesy thing. And now, it all of a sudden, it became one of my favorite songs on the record because it has a natural (feel). It's as almost like you heard the song before."
The whole record was made over the process of three years, according to Ely.
"Over that time, everything kind of just fell into place," he says. "It was not all last minute decisions of what to include. Everything kind of just fell into place. As we worked into it, we talked about the order of songs. It just became obvious, like a jigsaw puzzle, like the last piece had been plugged in."
The group will hit the road in June and July with a more full-fledged schedule than other tours in recent years.
Will the public have to wait another 30 years for a new Flatlanders album? Will Ely, Gilmore and Hanock be more band than legend or live up to the "More A Legend Than a Band" title of the Rounder release?
One, of course, is tempted to say no, especially considering they won't have to worry about a lack of material.
"The whole thing was a process, seeing where we were," says Ely. "By the time we got all of those songs on a list and temporarily recorded, we'd already been writing more songs.
"We couldn't help ourselvves," says Hancock. "We might have a whole album actually if we kept doing that."
But ever mindful of the long gap, Ely was taking no prisoners. "We wanted to save some for 30 years from now," he says, presumably joking.