Inara George of The Bird and the Bee and film composer Michael Andrews (Donnie Darko, Freaks and Geeks, Me and You and Everyone We Know, etc.) premiered an old cover that they recorded of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights.” It will release everywhere tomorrow, February 26. It’s an installment in George’s Road Angel Project, which began last year to raise money for COVID-19 relief through the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.
The cover is a softer version of Toussaint’s 1975 psychedelic soul classic, which was fairly mellow to begin with. Passionate piano playing is replaced by Andrews and George’s more atmospheric guitar picking and synth pads. While Toussaint’s original distorted vocals were recorded using a Leslie Speaker Cabinet, which creates the signature psychedelic pop/rock vocal tone that artists like The Beatles loved, Andrews and George’s duet is much cleaner. The final result makes it a modern indie folk recording rather than a southern soul recording.
Andrews recalled how the song came together to BrooklynVegan, who premiered the track. “‘Southern Nights’ is one from the archives,” He stated. “Recorded sometime in 2009, I was sleep deprived from a newborn, Inara George, Robert Walter (The Greyboy Allstars keyboardist) and I were exploring the genius of Allen Toussaint. Inspired by the first few bars of his original, I repurposed the words and melody and we pedaled our way though this calm, possibly Southern California night.”
George kicked off the Road Angel Project in August with “Sex in Cars,” a duet recording she made with Dave Grohl. The project has continued to release songs bundled in volumes since then. They’re up to four volumes so far, mostly consisting of lesser-known artists. George also appeared on the Food for Love livestream fundraiser event benefiting New Mexico food banks.
Photo credit: Owen Ela