“He would listen to my conversations, my words, and then feed off that… The songs he wrote take me places I wouldn’t normally go. I wasn’t used to singing this way, but it felt really good.” – Mavis Staples
This past winter iconic singer Mavis Staples joined Jeff Tweedy in Wilco’s Chicago studio, The Loft, where Tweedy wrote two new songs for the soul/gospel legend and prodced her forthcoming album ‘You Are Not Alone’ (Anti- Records, Sept. 14).
“I have almost everything she’s ever recorded, and I dug back through very thoroughly when I was given this job to do,” says Tweedy. “I thought that if I refreshed myself about where she’s been, it would help her figure out where she wanted to go. I wanted to be sure that we were making a record that she really wanted to make.”
“You Are Not Alone,” the title track was written by Tweedy. This is a very personal song for Mavis, she said she shed some tears singing it. Though the ballad can be sung for anyone (a lover, a sibling, a friend, a child) Mavis had her father, Pops Staples in mind when she belted out the emotional lyrics. Mavis also pours her soul into the other Tweedy composition, “Only the Lord Knows.” “That was our political song,” she says “You talk to this one, listen to that one, pick up the paper, but you can’t get any answers. The White House, the church–I can’t get any straight answers to the things I want to know. So for now, we’re on our own, and we have to go to the Lord. He’s the only one who knows.”
This summer Mavis Staples will play the Toronto Jazz Fest on June 30, Lollapalooza on August 6, and the Wilco-curated Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCa on August 14, with additional US and European tour dates to be announced soon.