AAs a founding member of the revolutionary Buffalo Springfield, not to mention Poco and the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, Richie Furay holds a central place in the rock & roll archives. Having been one of the main contributors to these founding bands, he is partly responsible for the fusion of country, blues, folk and psychedelia that gave birth to our modern musical landscape. Songs like “Good Feelin’ To Know”, “Kind Woman” and “Pickin’ Up the Pieces” are classics that influenced a generation of artists.
Although his sound helped shape the future of music, it was the record industry’s background in country music that made the man pick up a guitar. In particular, he mentions Ricky Nelson as one of his main inspirations to pursue his craft. He couldn’t wait for every episode of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet to end, when the teen idol performed a number. Other influencers include Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly.
On his latest album, In the country, Furay returns to those roots, serving up country music covers with all the love and respect he insists they deserve. Her friend, producer and sound engineer Val Garay, introduced her to the concept when they bumped into each other at an autism awareness event in Los Angeles. To see if their views matched, they independently listed the songs they considered worthy candidates and then compared them. To their surprise, they each named John Berry’s “Your Love Amazes Me” as No. 1 on both of their lists. Furay saw this as a sign that the recording was meant to be. The album proudly features Berry’s tune.
Over time, the pair hashed out the rest of their selections. Some are much older than others, but all are considered classics. Furay speaks enthusiastically about everyone. Take what he says about Sammy Kershaw’s “She Doesn’t Know She’s Beautiful.” “What I like about this song is the simplicity,” he chatters. “I think of my wife. She is so beautiful, inside and out. Each time he performs the number, he imagines that he is singing directly for her. Other songs that made the cut include John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You”, Alabama’s “I’m In a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)” and “Walking In Memphis” by Marc Cohn. .”
In the countryAll 14 tracks were recorded in just four days. Garay insisted that they drop them off at Blackbird Studio in Nashville. Although Furay had assembled albums in Music City several times before, this was his first experience of entering this legendary space. Furay appreciated how the studio accommodated the live vocals. The final track, a new version of “Picking Up the Pieces” by his own band Poco, was done in one take on the final day of the session. In fact, on nine of the tracks on the album, Furay sang live without overdubs. He insists that there’s usually little that can be improved when emotions are just fine. “You can carry a song if you go into the studio and play it too many times,” he says.
Prior to the set’s release, Furay delighted fans with a performance at City Winery in Nashville. During the show he played old favorites alongside some cuts from the new recording. Among them was the John Berry tune, which was delightfully enhanced by an appearance from the original artist himself. The song’s co-writer, Chuck Jones, was in attendance that night, as was Manuel Cuevas, the fashion designer famous for his flashy clothes worn by rock and country artists. Furay proudly sported one of the icon’s jackets on the explosive evening. The 78-year-old’s spouse was also on hand to soak up the party. Furay caused a laugh when he revealed he met his future wife when her then-boyfriend dragged her to one of Buffalo Springfield’s first gigs. The musician’s daughter was also at the concert and contributed background vocals on stage.
The next day, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee hit another big milestone: performing at the Grand Ole Opry. Although Poco graced the Opry many moons ago, Furay was no longer a member of the band at that time. Upon learning that Furay had never performed on that hallowed stage, John Berry’s manager, Brian Smith, set the ball rolling for it to happen. Furay dreamed of this day since his childhood. “It was absolutely a thrill.”
The album later got the official Record Store Day treatment at the Vinyl Tap in Nashville, with Furay signing exclusive vinyl pressings for adoring fans. Many of those present, however, were simply looking for libations at the cafe. “There were a lot of people who didn’t know who I was,” laughs the star. “After a while, I started interacting [with them] and we sold a lot of albums.
A documentary on Furay is currently in preparation. His longtime manager, David Stone, initiated the project. Cameron Crowe provides the narration for this definitive portrait. “I was his first interview”, reveals the artist of the famous music journalist and director. Crowe’s involvement was assured after the two reconnected via social media and then reunited in person after a show at the Saban Theater in Los Angeles. Although they haven’t seen each other in decades, Furay insists it was “like we’ve been friends forever.”
Part of why Stone felt Furay’s life deserved to be memorialized on the big screen as a cornerstone of the country-rock genre as well as his journey into religious life. Many are unaware that he spent the years between 1983 and 2017 as senior pastor at a nonsectarian Christian church in Denver. Meanwhile, he couldn’t have imagined his current glorious return to the stage.
Similarly, he could never have anticipated a Buffalo Springfield reunion in 2011. Furay recounts a moment on that tour when he was trying out some guitar licks. “New song, huh? That was Neil Young’s take when he heard the notes. Although not at the time, Furay quickly rushed home to make one.
Although he has spoken of his retirement from touring, Furay clarifies that he learned to never say never. Indeed, when he was speaking with Music connectionHe still had gigs on the books. “I like to see people who appreciate my music,” he says. “As long as it’s something reasonable, I’m going to go out and play.”
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