Today, Eli Paperboy Reed shares his soulful, bluesy spin on Merle Haggard’s classic “Today I Started Loving You Again” featuring New Orleans singer-songwriter Sabine McCalla. The track can be found on Down Every Road, Eli’s powerful collection of Merle Haggard tributes, out April 29.
Watch a live performance with Eli, Sabine, and Mike Montgomery at The Creamery in Brooklyn, NY:
Eli wrote on the importance of recording this track:
“In 1969, Capitol Records commissioned a duet version of this song from Buck Owens, who was their biggest country star, and Bettye Swann, who was their most successful soul singer. The label ultimately shelved it out of fears that an interracial collaboration would damage Buck’s career, but a few of the acetates eventually leaked out, and I happen to own one of them.
When I decided to record an album of Merle Haggard songs I knew that wanted to pay homage to this version. I called Sabine and explained the story and my vision for resurrecting the long lost duet and she was thrilled to step into Swann’s shoes and helped deliver an unforgettable—and long overdue—rendition.
It’s probably the most straight ahead interpretation on the album, and that’s the way I wanted it. The arrangement was good enough to be released back in 1969, but it never had a chance to get the respect it deserved. To finally, officially put that song out as a duet with a woman of color after all these years feels incredibly consequential to me. Thanks so much to Sabine for helping me realize the vision!”Eli Paperboy Reed
Eli has also announced a few live shows, including his Grand Ole Opry debut celebrating Merle Haggard on April 6! List of dates below:
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April 6 – Grand Ole Opry House – Nashville, TN
May 4 – City Winery – Boston, MA
May 5 – Union Pool – Brooklyn, NY
May 6 – The Hamilton Live – Washington, DC
May 7 – City Winery – Philadelphia, PA