My Friend: A Tribute To Rusty Young, an album celebrating iconic songs from the late Poco co-founder, is out now
The songs of Rusty Young, the late co-founder of the Grammy®-nominated country rock band Poco, are being celebrated and released today via Blue Élan Records. The album features reimagined Poco and Young solo songs covered by Americana rocker Sam Morrow, outlaw country artist Jesse Dayton, in addition to the newly formed Cimarron 615 featuring Tom Hampton (Poco), Bill Lloyd (Foster & Lloyd, Sky Kings), Rick Lonow (Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco), Jack Sundrud (Great Plains, Poco) and Michael Webb (Poco) and more.
Listen to My Friend: A Tribute To Rusty Young here.
Highlights of the album include the five tracks covered by Cimarron 615, including “Old Hat” and “Call It Love.” Jack Sundrud remembers, “We were working on “Old Hat” in Rusty’s log cabin in the woods behind his Nashville house. We had written the melody and chord progression, a verse and partial chorus lyric, but something wasn’t right. We were stuck. We broke for the day. When I saw him the next morning, he said, “this is what came through” – and he played me the finished chorus. Rusty believed that songs were gifts. That if we opened ourselves creatively, the right words and melodies would find us. He had a deep faith in the creative process.”
While Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco alumnus Rick Lonow recalls, “It was a career highlight for Billy, Ronnie and I (the 3 writers) to learn that Rusty Young had heard “Call It Love,” and then chose it to be on Poco’s album, Legacy. Rusty’s spot-on vocal performance is the element that made “Call it Love” one of Poco’s biggest hits! With Cimarron 615, we’ve approached the song in a new way, allowing Rusty’s classic performance to stand alone, while still paying homage to our friend and brother.”
While Young is likely best known for his softer sound with songs like “Crazy Love,” he also showcased a rock side, as shown on “Legend,” the title track from Poco’s seminal platinum album. Sam Morrow chose “Gonna Let the Rain” from Young’s solo album Waitin’ For The Sun and as Kirk Pasich, Blue Élan co-founder and the album’s producer, reflects “I wanted someone who could bring that side to life in our tribute. Sam was my first thought and his performance is pure Americana rock through and through.”
Jesse Dayton chose to record the Poco hit, “Rose of Cimarron” and offers this personal remembrance of Young, “Rusty was one of those musical forces that seemed to always be around during my childhood. So, when I finally met him, became friends and later recorded with him, I was constantly having flashbacks of being that lil’ kid hearing one of Rusty’s tunes on the radio. One of the most sweet and humble music legends I’ve ever known.”
Other label artists contributing to the album include Janiva Magness, Chelsea Williams, Colin Devlin, Mustangs of the West, Roan Yellowthorn and Bob Gentry, joined by the Orchid Quartet, Mary Scholz and Taylor John Williams. A portion of the proceeds from this release will be donated in Rusty Young’s honor to Rusty’s Rescue Pets c/o Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
The goal of the tribute album is to celebrate and highlight the amazing songwriting of American treasure, Rusty Young. Plans for a tribute album were already underway before Young suddenly passed away on April 14, 2021. Unfortunately, Young was never able to hear the renditions of his iconic songs that were recorded by this talented group of artists; however, the label believes that Young would have enjoyed these versions. As Kirk Pasich, Blue Élan founder and the album’s producer comments in the album's liner notes, “Beginning in 2017, Rusty was, in many ways, the heart and soul of our label.”
It was September 2017 when Young, who had intended to retire from the road, decided “that this was the perfect time to do something that could be a really rewarding part of my legacy.” His first and only solo album, Waitin’ For The Sun, came after a five-decade long career that began in 1967 when Young was invited to play steel guitar on what would become the final album by Buffalo Springfield. Soon after, Rusty, Richie Furay, George Grantham, Randy Meisner, and Jim Messina formed beloved Americana band Poco. Over the next half century – and alongside bandmates that would also include Paul Cotton, Timothy B. Schmit, and Jack Sundrud – he became not only the musical core of the band, but also the writer and/or vocalist behind such Poco hits as “Call It Love,” “Rose of Cimarron” and the #1 smash “Crazy Love.”