Boz Scaggs Processes The Past And Rebuilds For The Future
Boz Scaggs is likely best known for his affiliation with the Steve Miller Band or 1976 songs like "Lido Shuffle" and "Lowdown." But through the years, he's also been crafting jazz and blues albums in homage to his earliest influences. His new album Out of the Blues, due out July 27, is a continuation of that practice, capping off an unofficial trilogy of albums that channel his upbringing in Oklahoma and Texas while listening to blues and early rock and roll.
Scaggs said he started playing the blues because it was a basic and simple form of guitar, but by now, he's steeped in its history. He recounts the way the blues spread to and across the United States — coming first from the Caribbean and up through Cuba, into New Orleans and up the river to the Mississippi Delta, then to cities, radio and clubs.
"As it evolved, it picked up subtleties from every stop and from everyone who used the form," he says. "If you really get back to some of the roots of it, there's a great deal of nuance and that nuance is very important to someone who listens to the blues."
Out of the Blues includes covers of songs by Bobby "Blue" Bland, Jimmy Reed and Samuel "Magic Sam" Maghett, as well as a cover of Neil Young's "On the Beach." The Young song deals with loss and despair, which Scaggs faced directly when his house and all its contents burned in the Napa, Calif., wildfires last year. "It simply all is gone," he says. "It has you reaching for all sorts of answers and conclusions and ways to take it in."
In the fire, Scaggs lost every handwritten lyric he'd ever written — lyrics on books, legal pads and cocktail napkins from across his 50-year music career. "Some songs take a couple of pages to write, and some songs take 15 or 20 pages to write. And they're all there, all the ideas, and you can feel everything that went into that song," he says. "I regret having lost those papers, specifically."
Writing the album was one of the ways to help process this loss, he says. "It's really a part of the healing process and the coming-to-terms-with-it-all process."
Web intern Emily Abshire contributed to this story.
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