With his new album It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook, Rod Stewart is following in the footsteps of Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Willie Nelson and others who have reached back to music from earlier times and moved it into today — their way.
The classic songs on this album — by Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Gus Kahn and others — were staples of Stewart's household in London when he was growing up, he tells NPR's Susan Stamberg for Weekend Edition Saturday.
It might come as a surprise to some that Stewart — he of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" and "Young Turks" fame — would compile an album of standards. On the other hand, he's no stranger to either the ballad or the classic pop song. Witness such Stewart hits as "I Don’t Want to Talk About It" and "You're in My Heart."
"I don’t think these are sweet, horrible songs at all," Stewart says of the new album. "It's obviously not 'Hot Legs,' but they are all beautifully well-crafted songs."
Stewart used to say he wanted to sound like soul great Otis Redding. You can certainly hear the influence in his raspy voice. The latest record exhibits more influences, he says, including Sam Cooke and Billie Holiday. "I've stolen from just about every famous singer there is, and now it uniquely sounds like me."