“I wanted to get together with Steve Jordan, somebody I have tremendous respect and admiration for as a drummer and a musician and as a producer, and see what we could do together. I wanted to be produced by him. By that, I mean that I just wanted to be a singer and a guitar player. I didn’t want to feel like I had to choose the studio, the musicians – I knew that Steve and I would agree on those kinds of things.
“It turned out to be a wonderful experience – everything I wanted it to be. I got to be just a singer. Steve and I conferred on songs, musicians, studio, when, where, why, how, and we just landed in the same place.
“Choosing songs to cover isn’t simple; it’s a process that takes months and months – years, in some respects. I go through a lot of material because I’m always looking for stuff that I want to sing. I’ve been doing it a lot lately because I play with Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald – we’ve got a band, The Dukes. So we look at a lot of great R&B material as a natural course of things.
“I had already assembled some songs that we didn’t do with The Dukes. Knowing that I was working with Jordan in particular, I focused on a particular vein of music; I have a sense of his taste and style. We put our heads together, and then I made some demos of songs that I thought fit my voice. We decided on a short list of 12 songs and knocked them out.
“I hear from a lot of people who say, ‘I’m really glad you did those songs. I’m really glad that people will think of Willy DeVille again.’ He had a very successful and large fan base in Europe. They sort of ‘got’ him there. He never had that stature in America, although he had a lot of fans and was engaged with the music of his time and place. He won’t be forgotten.
“These were all second or third takes. The band was there; we’d fix any mistakes and move on. It didn’t seem possible, and we were amazed at the end of the third day that it was all done. We recorded horns and some strings on the fourth day, and on the fifth day we went home.”