Various Artists – Something Borrowed, Something New: A Tribute to John Anderson (Easy Eye Sound)
By John B. Moore
Over the past four decades John Anderson has sold millions of albums and managed to influence an entire generation of country and Americana musicians. And yet, he’s still not as widely known as he should be in 2022. But Dan Auerbach and David Ferguson are trying to fix that.
On a new tribute record produced by the duo, everyone from Brothers Osborne, Tyler Childers, Eric Church, Luke Comb and Gillian Welch have come to pay homage to songs made popular during Anderson’s extensive career. Auerbach and Ferguson got to know the singer when they produced Anderson’s 2020 album Years.
The 13-track Something Borrowed, Something New does a remarkable job of highlighting Anderson’s music across decades. The record starts off with the late John Prine covering “1959,” a Gary Gentry song that Anderson popularized in 1980, while Sierra Ferrell covered the title track from Anderson’s latest album. His influence is apparent by the caliber of musician that pay tribute to Anderson in the record, everyone from Jamey Johnson (who does a masterful job on “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal”) to Sturgill Simpson and Brent Cobb, covering “When It Comes to You” and “Wild and Blue”.
Even though Anderson did not write these songs, he clearly managed to make them his own while filling plenty of airtime on country radio stations. “We weren’t trying to piddle around and make the normal tribute record,” said Auerbach. “It had to be the best singers with the best songs and the best arrangements, and they had to come into the studio. This wasn’t like, ‘Mail me the song, and we’ll put it together.’ I think it makes this record unique. I don’t think most tribute records are done like this. I think that’s why it sounds like a cohesive album. It feels like an amazing mix tape.”
And all of these songs – even those dating back more than 30 years ago, still resonate today and hold up remarkably well. Thankfully one of Anderson’s biggest hits, the extremely dated 1982 hit “Swingin’” was not given the tribute treatment here. It was Anderson’s first massive hit and belongs relegated to the neon country, post-Urban Cowboy early 1980s-time capsule. He has recorded a slew of far better songs since then and Something Borrowed, Something New, including one of his most recent songs, is proof that he still has plenty of relevancy in today’s country music world.