JERRY CANTRELL Talks Getting ELTON JOHN's Blessing To Cover "Goodbye" On New Solo Album - "I Just Wanted To Make Sure He Was Cool With It"
October 9, 2021, 2 years ago
Speaking with Andy Hall at Lazer 103.3, Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell discussed his new solo album, Brighten. The album features a cover of Elton John's "Goodbye", and Cantrell revealed he received John's blessing to put the track on the record.
Cantrell: "I've been lucky enough to have had a lot of experiences like that in my career, and meet a lot of my heroes, and befriend a lot of them too. Elton is top of the heap for me, and having him be a part of Black Gives Way To Blue, our - if you want to call it a comeback record - with William (DuVall / vocals) and basically, on that song, saying goodbye to Layne (Staley), and also saying hello to the future for us. To have him be a part of that was a really important and kind of a full-circle moment.
I did a couple of shows in L.A. in the process of demoing stuff for Brighten in December, and we closed both shows with 'Goodbye'. It closes Madman Across The Water, one of my favorite Elton John albums, and coincidentally, it ended up being the closing track on this record. Both albums are 9-song records, and 'Goodbye' is the last song on each of them.
I sent Elton the demo; I just wanted to make sure he was cool with it, make sure I didn't butcher his tune, and he was like, 'No, man, it's beautiful, you did a great job, you absolutely should use it.' So it was great to get that information from him, that he was okay with what I did with his tune."
Cantrell is set to release his new solo album, Brighten, on October 29th. He recently released an official video for the title track and has followed it up with a behind-the-scenes clip from the shoot.
The veteran rock artist delivers by offering up another dimension of his recognisable guitar sounds on Brighten while at the same time featuring his signature vocals.
“I’ve been in the band for almost 34 years now,” says Jerry. “It’s always my first and foremost commitment, but it’s nice to explore different things and add another chapter to a growing body of work. After the last AIC tour wrapped, I geared my mind towards the possibility of making another record of my own.”
Cantrell played a pair of sold-out solo shows in Los Angeles joined by an eclectic group of musicians and friends, several of whom appear on Brighten.
“It was fun to play tunes I hadn’t performed in years from Boggy Depot and Degradation Trip,” Jerry continues. “Tyler Bates not only introduced me to a lot of cool players, he also helped me put the band together for the shows, and performed with me.”
Brighten spawned from those gigs. “It was like an old school ‘70s record where a multitude of musicians played,” smiles Cantrell. “So it’s not a set band. I got to make music with a bunch of people I never had before, along with friends like Duff, Tyler and Gil who I’ve worked with previously.”
Jerry’s expansive sonic palette incorporates everything from moments of moody organ and powerful pedal steel to the cathartic choruses and airtight riffs which is the hallmark of Cantrell’s sound.
Over the past year, he co-produced Brighten with film composer Tyler Bates (300, John Wick) and long-time engineer Paul Fig. Reflecting a classic spirit, they welcomed a dynamic cast of supporting players, including drummers Gil Sharone and Abe Laboriel, Jr. (Paul McCartney), pedal steel master Michael Rozon, Vincent Jones on piano, Wurlitzer, and organ. Other rock legends added to the fun of this LP, including Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Loaded) on select bass tracks, Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan) handling all of the background vocals and Joe Barresi (Tool, Queens of the Stone Age) overseeing the mixing of Brighten.
Together, they recorded eight originals and the LP closes with an approved-by-Elton cover of his classic "Goodbye" as the finale. “’Madman Across The Water’ is one of my favourite records of all time,” he exclaims. “Out of respect to Elton, I wouldn’t include it unless he said it was okay. He’d played piano on ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’, which I wrote for Layne, so I reached out to Elton, he listened to it, and told me “You should absolutely use it.” I got the signoff by the man himself. I couldn’t think of a better way to close the record!”
To commemorate its release "Atone" will be available in multiple configurations including a 12-inch vinyl single with a B-side that includes an exclusive instrumental version (with glow in the dark packaging), 180 heavy weight vinyl and a blood red colour vinyl exclusive to the Jerry Cantrell Webstore. Each ‘Atone’ vinyl single purchase includes a red flexi disc, red pick set, and an instant download of the song.
Brighten is available for pre-order everywhere now and will be offered in an exclusive bone with gold splatter colour 180-gram vinyl via Jerry’s webstore. Limited signed CDs will also be available in the webstore for pre-order.
"Prism Of Doubt"
"Black Hearts And Evil Done"
"Had To Know"
"Nobody Breaks You"
The Cast of Players on Brighten:
Jerry Cantrell – Guitar, bass, vocals, keys
Greg Puciato – Background vocals
Duff McKagan – Bass
Gil Sharone – Drums
Abe Laboriel Jr. – Drums
Tyler Bates – Strings, percussion, guitar
Vincent Jones – Piano, keys, & strings
Jordan Lewis - Piano
Michael Rozon – Pedal steel
Lola Bates – Background vocals
Matias Ambrogi-Torres – Strings
(Photo credit: Jonathan Weiner)