Thursday, February 9, 2012
– Rodney Crowell and author Mary Karr are scheduled to release "Kins, Songs by Mary Karr and Rodney Crowell" on Vanguard Records on June 5.
Produced by Joe Henry, "Kin" marks the first collaboration between the two writers and is Karr's entry into the world of music. The disc features vocals by a variety of guests, although Crowell also sings.
After reading Karr's memoirs, "Cherry and The Liar's Club," which spent over a year on the New York Times Bestsellers list, Crowell name-checked her in Earthbound, a track off "Fates' Right Hand."
"I called out to her in the darkness because she was a bona fide poet I knew could write songs," Crowell added, "and despite her professor's pedigree, she'd ridden a bike in a mosquito truck's fog." Karr has taught at Harvard and Syracuse University, where she still holds a chair in literature.
Upon hearing Crowell's songs, Karr recognized her own less than perfect family. "We grew up about 100 miles apart in the same stretch of east Texas Ringworm Belt." Karr said. She mentioned that both childhood homes had bullet holes in them from their parents' drunken rampages.
The disc contains one gospel number among their ballads and rock songs. In their most recent memoirs, Crowell's "Chinaberry Sidewalks" (Random House) and Karr's "Lit" (Harper), religion figures prominently.
"We settled down and raised a record," Crowell said. The lineup of vocalists include Norah Jones, Vince Gill, Lucinda Williams, Lee Ann Womack, Rosanne Cash, Chely Wright, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris and Crowell.
Asked to draw the source of their respective successes in literature and music, despite early hard knocks, Crowell said, "Neither of us was a crybaby, and we kept loving everybody we shared DNA with - no matter how crazy."
Karr said, "An outlaw pedigree isn't always a disadvantage for a poet," adding, "This record's about everybody."