Dave Stewart Gets Martina McBride ‘All Messed Up’
If you caught the series premiere of the new Reba McEntire sitcom, “Malibu Country” last week, you might have noticed the name “David A. Stewart” in the credits. Pop music fans will know him as Dave Stewart, one-half of the duo Eurythmics, whose hits include the ubiquitous 1983 smash, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Country fans are now getting to know the British-born songwriter-producer as the creator of “Malibu Country” and, thanks to recording in Music City, are hearing a few of their favorite artists on his latest musical projects.
One of those artists is Martina McBride, whose husband John provided the studio in which Dave has made two albums full of country-influenced tunes. The Blackbird Diaries (named after Blackbird Studios), released in 2011, and The Ringmaster General, released last September, feature vocals from among others, Martina, Alison Krauss, pop-soul singer Joss Stone, Stevie Nicks, Colbie Caillat and more. The song Dave performed with Martina, called “All Messed Up on Love,” had to go through a slight change, however, before the country singer would get involved.
“The funny thing with Martina was she was probably wondering what the hell’s going on in the studio,” Dave tells The Boot. “Because for some reason all of my studio sessions turn into — not a party — but there’s always loads of people in the room coming and going. I was playing this one song back and listening. It was ‘All F—-ed Up on Love.’ She was listening and she kept coming back to see what we were doing. John said, ‘She really likes that song but she thinks she probably can’t sing ‘all f—ed up’ on it.’ I realized she liked it, like she might like to sing on it so I said, ‘Hey, Martina, what about ‘all messed up …’?’ She said, ‘I’m in!’”
Dave adds that although Martina sings the cleaned-up version of the tune, if you listen closely, you might be able to hear the original lyrics since some of the back-up vocalists are singing them anyway.
Another singer Dave recruited to join him on “Drowning in the Blues,” a track from The Ringmaster General, is Alison Krauss. But the collaboration might never happened, since the veteran musician, who has worked with everyone from Tom Petty to Mick Jagger, confesses he was initially reluctant to reach out to the singer.
“I didn’t know her and I was very nervous to get in contact with her,” Dave explains. “But John McBride said, ‘She’s really sweet, you should just call her.’ I said, ‘I can’t just call somebody out of the blue and say this is a great song for us to sing!’ He said, ‘Why not?’ I think I sent her a rough [version] of the song in an e-mail and she said, ‘I really like it.’ She came to the studio and she made me play it to her on acoustic guitar and she brought a viola. She said, ‘I just need to pick my son up from school and then I’m coming back.’ She just nailed it. She was so sweet and easy to work with.”
The whirlwind experience of recording the two albums is captured in the fascinating new documentary, also called The Ringmaster General. A wildly entertaining glimpse into the creative mind of the multimedia , the doc is currently playing on the Palladia channel and is scheduled to air tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 6) at 10:30 PM ET (a worthy alternative to election-night returns!). See other upcoming air times here.