Off The Record: Jim Lauderdale keeps Robert Hunter’s “memory” alive on new record, “Hope”

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On July 30, a bona fide member of the Americana royalty, Jim Lauderdale, released their 34th studio album: To hope, a powerful collection of melodies proving that the king of broken hearts always has an unrivaled ear for creating meaningful songs.

Started before the pandemic, To hope entered the scene in the depths of their forties as Lauderdale searched for a way to make sense of everything that was going on in the world. As a result, a lot of the songs have a resounding sense of hope for them… but not in a naive way. On the contrary, the 64-year-old songwriter presents a hard-earned hope, which is the result of years of living and collecting wisdom.

To this end, songs like “The opportunity to help someone get through this” and “Brave” testify to music’s ability to shine light in darkness – the latter is a moving ode to frontline workers. With well-crafted American rock arrangements, ingenious writing, and a warm, beautiful sound, the record as a whole is like a torch in the middle of a long night.

A highlight is “Memory,” the final collaboration between Lauderdale and one of his longtime writing partners, Robert Hunter (of Grateful Dead fame). Hunter originally wrote the words “awhile ago,” but it wasn’t until right before his death in 2019 that the song was finished. Finally being able to share it now after a year defined by hardships and losses, there is something touching about Hunter’s timeless feeling reaching listeners right now.

A few weeks ago, Lauderdale sat down for a new episode of Off The Record at Gibson Garage in Nashville to talk about the new record, his friendship with Hunter, his songwriting process and more. Charming, outspoken and open about his work, he offered great insight into his career and how to compose a great song. Watch the conversation below:


Off The Record by the American Songwriter is a new series devoted to candid and insightful conversations with some of the best songwriters of our time. Discover more episodes HERE.


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