We’re honored to have Cowboy Junkies guitarist Michael Timmins as our guest for today’s edition of Desert Island Discs. The Junkies are currently celebrating the digital release of their latest offering Demons (physical copies of the album will be available on February 15th), a tribute to the music of singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt.  Demons is the second release in their four album arc dubbed “The Nomad Series.”  We’ll tell you some more about the album in a moment, but first, here are Michael’s desert island picks!

1) The White Album – The Beatles

I think that Magical Mystery Tour has more songs on it that I’d consider my favorite Beatle songs, but the White Album has so much variety and oddness that I think it can be listened to endlessly.

2) Kind of Blue – Miles Davis

It’s kind of the standard choice for this type of list but how can one not choose it…..

3) Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan

I could have picked 4 or 5 different Dylan albums, but this album landed at the right time in my life and it has never left me.

4) Unknown Pleasures – Joy Division

For those cold, dreary desert island days…probably one of the most influential and important albums in my life.

5) Tonight’s the Night – Neil Young

As a constant reminder that the music doesn’t have to be in tune or in time or even have a beginning or end in order for an album to be brilliant…just cover it in blood and the listener will do the rest.

With the 2010 release of Renmin Park, Cowboy Junkies began their most ambitious period yet. Collectively titled ”The Nomad Series.” The second volume of the series, Demons, featuring the songs of the late Vic Chesnutt, is available now digitally (with a physical release set for February 15th).

Here are some words from Michael regarding the Demons project:

Our brief journey with Vic Chesnutt began in the mid-90’s when we stumbled upon his album, West Of Rome. We had just begun work on the songs that would become Lay It Down and decided to throw the title track of Vic’s album into the mix. We worked on the song for weeks but were never able to match its wistfulness, its forlornness or its honesty. We were never able to replicate the way the song just simply and effortlessly existed as recorded by Vic.

Several months later, when our album was released, we invited Vic to join us on a leg of our North American tour. Throughout that tour, we watched Vic every night as he stymied, infuriated, intentionally pissed-off and then subtly disarmed and won over audiences across the US and Canada. There was no secret to his game – just him, his guitar, and his uncanny voice, which could be grating and beautiful in the same breath, and the flat out honesty of his songs.

After that tour we would cross paths occasionally out on the road, or when he came through Toronto, but mainly we kept in touch through his music. Our last get together with Vic was in 2007 when he came to Toronto to help us with our Trinity Revisited project. During the taping of Trinity we had an opportunity to do a bit of playing together and we came up with the idea of doing a Chesnutt/Junkies album, featuring his songs with us as the band. The last time that we talked he said that he was working on a song cycle centered around his childhood in Georgia and maybe it would become the album we would record together. I was on a cell phone in a parking lot outside a gig in Maine and he was in a van driving on the QEW heading to a gig in Toronto. And that was all.

We tried to approach Demons with the same sense of adventure that Vic undertook in all of his projects (or at least that is the way his recordings sound). We let happy accidents happen; we tried to invest his songs with the same spirit and the adventure with which they were written, at the same time investing them with our own Northern spin. Exploring his songs and delving deeper and deeper into them has been an intense, moving and joyous experience. I don’t think Vic would have wanted it any other way.

Michael Timmins

You can grab a sample track from Demons using the link below:

Demons is available for purchase at the official Cowboy Junkies website in several formats, including a deluxe package featuring a bonus 7 track digital EP of additional Chesnutt covers recorded for the album and cut from the final release. Visit www.cowboyjunkies.com for more details.

About the Author

Matt Wardlaw

Matt Wardlaw is a music lifer with nearly 20 years of experience in the industry. Of course you all have shoes older than that, but that's okay, Matt realizes that he's still a rookie. His byline has appeared in the Riverfront Times (St. Louis), Cleveland Scene, Blogcritics, Music's Bottom Line and Ultimate Classic Rock, among others. In addition to writing for Popdose, Matt also has his own music blog called Addicted to Vinyl where he writes about a variety of subjects including but not limited to vinyl. In his spare time, Matt enjoys long walks in the park, Cherone-era Van Halen and driving long distances to Night Ranger concerts.

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