Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach explained why he decided to take unreleased demo recordings by late singer-songwriter Tony Joe White and turn them into an upcoming album, Smoke From the Chimney.

White – best known for writing “Rainy Night in Georgia,” but artists from Elvis Presley to Tina Turner have recorded his material – died in 2018, but his voice will be heard on the new LP, which arrives on May 7.

“I’d heard the song a bunch already,” Auerbach told NPR of “Rainy Night in Georgia” in a recent interview. “I just figured it was a Ray Charles song or something. But then I heard Tony Joe's version, and everything about it just blew my mind.”

He met White in 2009, and the idea of collaborating was discussed but never happened. When he died, his son Jody began converting unfinished songs into digital format and approached Auerbach with them.

You can hear the new album's lead track, “Boot Money,” below.

“There's that sound," Auerbach said. “It's like the perfect music to me. Comes out of New Orleans, and is the melting pot. Usually when people have so much feel, they're not as good at writing. And a lot of times people are really good at writing and don't necessarily have the greatest feel, but he just had both in spades, and he had the electric guitar sound and the acoustic sound.”

Auerbach noted that "we tried to do our best to honor Tony Joe and his sound with those tapes. We cut the sessions live as a band with Tony's voice and the guitar tracks. It wasn't pieced together in a computer. It was real players in a room together, making music."

 

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