Blurring the boundaries of time and genre, James interprets songs made famous by a wide variety of artists, ranging from early 20th century standards by Ray Noble and Al Bowlly (“Midnight, the Stars and You,” “Love Is the Sweetest Thing”) and 1960s songs by Willie Nelson and Sonny & Cher to Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1970 breakthrough hit “Lucky Man” and 1990s releases by Abbey Lincoln and Diane Izzo.
As Eternally Even saw a hi-res 96/24 release, we here at HRAC expect Tribute To 2 will follow suit.
You can pre-order Tribute To 2 here. Beginning on December 8, Los Angeles-based fans who purchase the album at Amoeba Music can meet Jim James at a rare in-store performance and signing on January 18, 2018. Free and all ages, the event will begin at 6 p.m. PST that evening.
“I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times,” which opens the album, was written by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher, and it first appeared on Pet Sounds, the landmark 1966 Beach Boys album. “‘I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times’ is a song that has spoken to me very deeply from the first time I heard it,” says James. “So often, many of us just feel like we don’t fit in, like somehow we were dropped into the wrong life at the wrong time. This song has such a beautiful way of resonating with that energy and relating to the pain of life on earth, but also offering hope and comfort in the beautiful sounds of togetherness.”
James’ path to recording “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” began with another song: Isaac Hayes’ take on “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” from Hayes’ seminal 1969 album, Hot Buttered Soul. While listening to the soul legend’s 18+ minute version of the Jimmy Webb-penned song, James spontaneously began singing the lyrics to “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times.”
“It gave me the idea to unite the music of these two different worlds,” explains James. “I believe that if people really listened, they would love so much music outside of the genre they normally listen to, and that alone could start to unite people. I had just written liner notes for a re-release of Hot Buttered Soul, and was lucky enough to get my hands on the multi-track recordings of the album. So, I ripped apart ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ and put it back together again as ‘I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times.'”
You can stream James’ version of “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” here, or watch/listen to it below.
Unlike his 2009 EP of songs by George Harrison and The Beatles, Tribute To, which was recorded on an 8-track, reel-to-reel tape recorder in the days following Harrison’s passing, the 11 songs of Tribute To 2 were recorded over a period of years in different places, with different gear and varied instrumentation.
James explains, “These are some of my favorite covers, songs I recorded trying to bring myself peace during a rough time or trying to make myself laugh or just have fun. I hope others can relate and enjoy the journey during these tough times and hopefully in times of peace and love as well!”
On December 8, ATO Records will reissue 2009’s Tribute To with new cover art and a bonus track: James’ cover of Bob Dylan’s “If Not for You,” which was also recorded in the original 2001 session. At the time, Spin described the EP as “spare and somber – just that windy Americana tenor against a squeaky acoustic guitar … Many of us remember where we were when Harrison died; now we hear when James began to heal.”
11. “Blue Skies,” by Irving Berlin
JIM JAMES – TRIBUTE TO (REISSUE)