Warren Haynes: A Rocker Gets Some 'Me' Time The celebrated guitarist and songwriter, known for his work with The Allman Brothers Band, The Dead and Gov't Mule, discusses his first solo album in 19 years.
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Warren Haynes: A Rocker Gets Some 'Me' Time

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Warren Haynes: A Rocker Gets Some 'Me' Time

Warren Haynes: A Rocker Gets Some 'Me' Time

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Warren Haynes is one of Rolling Stone's greatest 25 guitarists of all time.

(Soundbite of music)

HANSEN: He's played with the Allman Brothers, the Dead and his own band, Gov't Mule. This month, Haynes releases his first solo album in 19 years. It's called "Man in Motion," and it's got soul.

(Soundbite of song, "Your Wildest Dream")

Mr. WARREN HAYNES (Rock and Blues Guitarist/Vocalist and Songwriter): (Singing) If you need me, you know where you can find me. Ill be there, yeah, in your wildest dreams...

HANSEN: Warren Haynes is in our New York bureau. So nice to meet you.

Mr. HAYNES: Nice to meet you, as well.

HANSEN: Why are you so long for a solo recording?

Mr. HAYNES: Well, I think I place priority on Gov't Mule. That's kind of my laboratory to do whatever I want to do. And I feel like Gov't Mule is going to be recording and touring for years to come - when the Allman Brothers decide to stop and when the Dead decide to stop. So solo records are kind of on the back burner, so to speak. You know?

The past few years, I've been writing a lot of songs that seem to want to be interpreted a different way, that was a little outside of the boundaries for Gov't Mule. Although there aren't many boundaries, I just felt like it kind of needed a different interpretation. And once I decided I'm going to make a solo record, then I continue writing songs with that direction in mind. And then I dusted off a few old songs, and then I had enough to record.

(Soundbite of song, "On a Real Lonely Night")

Mr. HAYNES: (Singing) Sometimes thoughts of you bring tears to my eyes. Other times, they bring a smile. I remember what you told me, we would always be close in my arms. Must be easy to sleep in another man's arms. We're so damn far apart. On a real lonely night, I can almost feel you laughing...

HANSEN: "Real Lonely Night" you wrote 20 years ago?

Mr. HAYNES: Yeah, I did. And I love that song, and I tried it a bunch of different ways. Gov't Mule even demoed it, but it never seemed to want to fit into the Allman Brothers or Gov't Mule, song-wise. And I didn't want to kind of force it, so I've been sitting on it for a long time.

HANSEN: Tell us who's in the band.

Mr. HAYNES: George Porter Jr. from the Meters, on bass - who's played on so many amazing records through the years; Ivan Neville, playing clavinet and organ. In the left side - I always point out cause we had two keyboard players, and one is on the left side and one is on the right side, and they're playing together -Ivan is also singing background, along with Ruthie Foster. And they're two of my favorite singers. The other keyboard player is Ian McLagan, from the Faces. I actually met Ian in the studio for the first time.

HANSEN: Really?

Mr. HAYNES: Everyone else, I had a relationship with - except him. And, of course, we became instant friends. He was wonderful. And Raymond Weber, the drummer, who is Ivan's drummer in his band Dumpstaphunk; and Ron Holloway on tenor saxophone.

So that was my wish list. That's who I wanted. And, of course, everybody was available. We only needed a short window of time. We did it in about six days. We didn't want to dwell on trying to achieve anything remotely related to perfection. It was about capturing emotion, which is what this music is about.

HANSEN: I'm speaking with guitarist Warren Haynes. His new recording is called "Man in Motion."

(Soundbite of song, "Take a Bullet")

Mr. HAYNES: (Singing) I, I took a bullet for you. I, I took a bullet for you. Took a bullet, baby...

HANSEN: Every once in a while, listening through the whole recording, I'll hear a guitar riff that seems like it's lifted from an Otis Redding or a Sam and Dave tune. And then another time, there is a horn section, and I'll be thinking about Sam and Dave, and Wilson Pickett.

And in terms of the instrumentation and the arrangement of your songs, did you go in the studio to try and deliberately create that Stax-Volt feeling? I mean the Stax-Volt was a very important label for soul musicians.

Mr. HAYNES: Well, we went in knowing that we wanted the record to have some sort of timeless sonic picture. We didn't want it to sound like when you heard it, you knew what year it was recorded. We wanted it to sound like it could have been recorded anytime in the past 40 years.

HANSEN: How do you define soul?

Mr. HAYNES: It's, obviously, an unspoken thing. You know, the first sound that made the hair on my arms stand up - when I was just a kid - was black gospel music. I grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. And on Sundays, if you're turning the dial, you might get a local church playing black gospel music. And as a wee kid, I got this feeling like, what is that? Why does that make me feel different, you know? And that was my first encounter with soul and what soul is. And of course, black gospel music gave birth to soul music.

But there is also - you know, Ralph Stanley has soul. Conway Twitty had soul. You know, it's not just a black thing. It's not just something that's derived from a certain aspect of gospel music. There are so many different ways that it expanded. And so when you hear someone, you just kind of know it. You know?

HANSEN: You heard James Brown, and you knew it.

Mr. HAYNES: James Brown was my first hero. And from then, Wilson Pickett and the Four Tops, and the Temptations, and Sam and Dave. When I heard Otis Redding, it made such a huge impact that I probably spent part of my youth trying to sound like Otis Redding.

HANSEN: Did you start out as a guitarist?

Mr. HAYNES: I started as a singer. But I was so young, it's hard to call yourself a singer when you're that young. I started singing when I was about 7 years old. And at that point in time, I had not heard all the great rock and roll music that would make me want to play guitar. I was only listening to soul music. And I had heard BB King and fell in love with his voice - even more than his guitar playing - because I had not yet developed this affinity for guitar.

And then when I heard Cream and Jimi Hendrix, I told my dad: I think I need to play guitar.

HANSEN: You are going to play for us. What are you going to play?

Mr. HAYNES: I think "River's Gonna Rise" would be fun to do.

HANSEN: OK. Let me just say Warren Haynes with "River's Gonna Rise," from his new recording, "Man in Motion." The album is released May 10th. And Warren Haynes joined us from our New York studio.

Nice to meet you, thanks. And good luck on tour.

Mr. HAYNES: Thank you so much.

(Soundbite of song, "River's Gonna Rise")

Mr. HAYNES: (Singing) Darkness has the faces of we who hold the power. We don't need to be rich. We only need to be free. Chains of oppression never going to break. But a day will come when we hold the key. Time will remind us that the people still have their voice. We don't want violence until there's no other choice. But the river's gonna rise, wash our struggles away. Oh, the sun is gonna shine, shine down on a brand-new day. Bells will be ringing, flames reaching to the sky higher and higher, fueled by the winds of change...

HANSEN: From our New York studio, that's Warren Haynes performing "River's Gonna Rise." You can hear the full performance on our website, NPRMusic.org.

This is NPR's WEEKEND EDITION. And wishing you all a Happy Mother's Day, I am Lois Hansen's daughter, Liane.

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