‘They hear it and it’s perfect’: Warren Haynes says the Band played key role in shaping new Gov’t Mule album

Warren Haynes learned a lot about one of his fellow performers at Love for Levon, the concert celebration of the life and music of the Band’s Levon Helm.

Haynes opened the show, which paid tribute to one of the legends of heartfelt Americana music in October 2013, with emotional renditions of “The Shape I’m In” and “Long Black Veil” — the second of which featured his soon-to-be-ex Allman Brothers Band cohort Gregg Allman. Later, Jim James of My Morning Jacket took the microphone for a new take on “Ophelia” and then, in an incredibly moving moment, “It Makes No Difference.”

Haynes said he became certain, right then and there, that James would be the perfect candidate to participate in a planned guest-spacked Gov’t Mule project, the recently released Shout!

“I’ve known Jim James for quite a while, and I’ve always been a fan of what he does,” Warren tells Ultimate Classic Rock. “But it wasn’t until we worked together at the Love for Levon concert that I got the idea of having him sing the alternate version of ‘Captured.’ It was based on hearing him sing the Band songs, and hearing a different side of his musical personality.”

A similar Band-related epiphany had happened, too, with Dave Matthews — who also memorably covered “Long Black Veil” (a classic country song featured on 1968′s Music from Big Pink) with Emmy Lou Harris at a tribute concert for Johnny Cash in the late 1990s. Haynes asked Matthew to sit in on “Forsaken Saviour,” a song written in tribute to Helm for Shout!

“One of the things that’s reflected in this disc, is you get to see people kind of — not outside of their element, but maybe expressing themselves differently than some people might expect,” Warren says. “I was basing that choice on hearing Dave with Emmy Lou Harris singing songs like ‘Long Black Veil.’ I know that side of Dave, having known him a long time, but some people might think it’s an odd fit — until, obviously, they hear it and it’s perfect.”

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