Jay Farrar readies new Mermaid Avenue with Jim James, Will Johnson

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    If you know anything about Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg, and/or Wilco, then you’re probably aware Mermaid Avenue. If you’re not, then for the purpose of this article know this: Mermaid Avenue is the name of a 1998 album of previously unheard material written by Guthrie, put to music and performed by Bragg and the Wilco. It was such a big deal that it even spawned a documentary, 1999’s Man in the Sand, and another album, 2000’s aptly titled Mermaid Avenue Vol. II.

    Now, with all this mind, you can see why the following news is a big deal. Per a recent interview with the Austin Chronicle (via the always awesome TFB), Will Johnson (of Centro-matic & Monsters of Folk) has revealed that a new installment of Mermaid Avenue is in the works. However, rather than once again featuring Bragg and Wilco, Volume 3 will be composed and performed by none other than Tweedy’s former Jay Farrar, you know, the guy formerly of Uncle Tupelo, now of Son Volt and that Ben Gibbard collaboration.

    But wait, it gets better. In addition to Farrar, the album, which was reportedly recorded this past March in New York, will hear the talents of Johnson, Anders Parker, and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James.


    “Jay sent me a priority mail package full of the lyrics, and I opened it at 4:30 in the afternoon,” Johnson recalled in the interview. “Within 17 minutes, I had already documented this one called ‘Chorine My Sheba Queen’ to the recording machine. That speaks far more about the song than anything I did. The lyrics struck me in a way that the music sounded automatic. It made such sense to my soul and my spirit. It’s got an empty and regretful tone but in a very beautiful way. I just latched onto it.”

    No release date quite yet, but you can color us officially excited.