Last summer my buddy, Linda Jean Stokley of The Local Honeys, asked me to work on a song with her for an upcoming project on KET’s (Kentucky Educational Television) Kentucky Life . Travis Kitchens of Emperor Records had been working up a segment on East Kentucky songwriter, Jim Ford. Game changer, y’all.
Ford is a mysterious guy and from all accounts was always and ever a wild card, both as a songwriter and in real time. He went out to L.A. in the late 60s and recorded a couple of albums with the Wrecking Crew. There’s also a rumor that he actually wrote Ode to Billy Joe and gave it Bobbie Gentry. He passed away in 2006 and though not many people know who he is, we are lucky he left a hell of a legacy of fantastic, funky music—and there are people out there making sure he is rediscovered.
Here’s how it went down: Jim Ford, a musically minded country boy from rural Kentucky heads to the Golden State with dreams of making it. Making the scene in Los Angeles, he befriends and writes songs for such artists as Bobby Womack(“Harry Hippie”), Aretha Franklin, P.J. Proby, The Temptations, and even appears on Sly & the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On. He eventually hooks up with legendary session players Dr. John, Jim Keltner (John Lennon), and James Burton (Elvis Presley) and books into the equally legendary Wally Heider Recording Studios to cut an album of blue-eyed country-funk and soul. The year is 1969.
Linda called me just a few days before she was going into the KET studios to perform the song. She sent me her arrangement and we had a couple of practice sessions to get it like we wanted it. We went into the studio and sang the song through three times. It was the 3rd take that we hit a sweet spot and got the take they used for the show.
Born in Gossip County in Big Mouth, USA
Where the hypocrites preach in the streets all week
And they all meet in church on Sunday
Do me a favor. Just listen to Capitol album and see what you think (it’s my personal favorite):