‘A Fool to Care’: Boz Scaggs Discusses His New Album, Working with Duane Allman and More

by James Wood
Posted Apr 3, 2015 at 3:46pm

For his new album, A Fool to Care, Boz Scaggs once again teams up with producer Steve Jordan and puts his distinctive spin on a host of classic songs—plus a handful of new originals.

The album, the follow-up to 2013's Memphis, features a guest appearance by Bonnie Raitt, who duets with Scaggs and adds her characteristic slide guitar to “Hell to Pay.” The song, which Scaggs wrote himself, is a knowing indictment of corruption on a personal and political level.

I recently spoke with Scaggs about his new album, recording with Duane Allman several decades ago—and about his 50 years in the music biz.

GUITAR WORLD: How would you describe your new album, A Fool to Care?

That’s an enormous question. It took four days to record and probably 50 years to conceive. When we started talking about doing this album, we considered a theme being the music I was inspired by [when I was] growing up. That led to some discussion about the material. We really wanted to focus on music out of Louisiana and Texas, but then we started talking about other songs we like. Guys like Curtis Mayfield came up. Then the interest broadened and we started picking them out of the air.

There’s a song by the Band on there and others by the Spinners and Al Green. Then there were a few songs that a friend of mine wrote and one I wrote one myself. It’s all styles of music that I love. We had an open ticket to do anything we wanted to do. If it felt good, we took a swing at it.

You mentioned a four-day recording process, which seems like a quick turnaround. Can you elaborate on that?

The rhythm section on this record was the same one we worked with on my last record, Memphis. It’s very high-level and broad-ranging musicians that I had a lot in common with. So it gave us a lot of flexibility.

[Producer] Steve Jordan and I took a good deal of time in pre-production to find the right keys and arrangements. We really try to hit it hard once we’re in the studio. Then I took the songs back to my home studio in California and did some vocal and guitar overdubs and added a few horns and percussion.

What can you tell me about the song you wrote for this album, “Hell to Pay”?

I had been carrying that song for years. When you talk to some writers, they’ll tell you that sometimes a song just seems to fall out of the air and write itself. This was one of those songs that just fell into my lap.

How did Bonnie Raitt get involved with this track?

I really wanted to do a few duets on this record, and Bonnie is one my favorite artists in the world. It just so happened that the opportunity to work with her came up, and it was a great fit. It was a really special session because even though the two of us had known each other for some time, we had never worked together before. Bonnie came to my house with her guitar, and we spent the day together and just worked it out. It was great making music, but just getting to know her well was pretty special.

You also had the pleasure of working with Duane Allman on your sophomore album, Boz Scaggs, in 1969. How did that collaboration come about?

When I was making my first solo record in the States, I was working with Atlantic Records and they suggested I work down in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. I did a lot of research to see what musicians might be available, and Duane’s name had come up time and again as a unique guitar stylist. At the time, he wasn’t working with a section. He had just gone off to go start the Allman Brothers Band.

I remember we asked him if he could come back to Muscle Shoals for a week of recording and he did. Then after I made that record, I went to Macon, Georgia, where he was putting the Allman Brothers Band together. I stayed down there for about six months; during that time, Duane and I got to know each other a little better. I feel really lucky that I was able to work with him at an early point of my career. I can say an awful lot about what a unique and wonderful cat he was. Obviously, his work speaks for itself.

Were you aware that 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of your first album, Boz?

You know? That’s exactly right. That had not occurred to me. I made that first record in 1965.

Is there a word to describe what you feel when you ponder this?

Lucky. Music has been an enormous part of my life. It’s been a personal and passionate journey. Like so many people, when you discover music on your own by listening to the radio and start having choices of what you want to hear, it’s one of the greatest odysseys you could ever undertake. That led me to playing music myself, which became another part of the search.

Then I found my footing and made a career out of it. It’s been a great companion to me and given me a vocation. Along with all of the personal relationships I’ve had over the years, music is right there as one of the most important influences in my life.

For more about Boz Scaggs, visit bozscaggs.com.

James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.

Add a Comment

Similar Guitar News

Essential Guitar Licks: Slippery Duane Allman-Style Mixolydian Slide Lick (9/25/2015)
We all know a great lick when we hear one—Jimmy Page’s solo breaks in “Whole Lotta Love” and Mark Knopfler’s blistering triads in “Sultans of Swing,” for example. Moments like these grab your attention and aurally brand your ears forever. Or, ...
Eric Clapton and Duane Allman's Isolated Guitar Tracks from "Layla" (4/13/2015)
We recently shared our story about Eric Clapton's isolated lead guitar track from the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." This, of course, reminded us of the equally fascinating lead guitar and vocal track from Derek and the Dominos' classi...
Duane Allman’s Three Beloved Les Pauls Are Reunited Onstage for the Allman Brothers’ Final Stand (12/10/2014)
Duane Allman had three primary Les Pauls during his time with the Allman Brothers Band. The 1957 goldtop he played on the band’s first two albums as well as most of the Derek and the Dominos Layla sessions has been on display at the Big House M...
Listen: Eric Clapton’s Favorite R&B Guitar Solo — Duane Allman Guests on Wilson Pickett's Cover of "Hey Jude" (11/19/2013)
"I remember hearing 'Hey Jude' by Wilson Pickett and calling either Ahmet Ertegun or Tom Dowd and saying, 'Who's that guitar player?'" says Eric Clapton in the top video below. It turns out that guitar player was a 22-year-old guitarist named Du...
Guitar Lust: The Story of Duane Allman's Long-Lost 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop (11/19/2013)
From the GW archive: This story was originally published in the January 2011 issue of Guitar World. Duane Allman played a gorgeous 1957 Les Paul goldtop for the first 18 months of his two and half years in the Allman Brothers Band. He played th...
100 Greatest Guitar Solos: No. 14 "Layla" (Eric Clapton, Duane Allman) (11/19/2013)
Seven minutes of pure, quivering passion, “Layla” was Eric Clapton’s magnificent scream of unrequited love for Patti Boyd, wife of his best friend—George Harrison. “He grabbed one of my chicks,” said Clapton of Harrison, “and so I thought I’d ge...
Gibson announces the Duane Allman 1959 Les Paul (7/19/2013)
Read more about Gibson announces the Duane Allman 1959 Les Paul at MusicRadar.com Gibson has announced the Duane Allman 1959 Cherry Sunburst Les Paul in honour of the legendary guitarist. Although he died tragically young aged 24 in 1971, Duane ...
Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time Readers Poll: Round 1 — "Layla" (Eric Clapton, Duane Allman) Vs. "No More Tears" (Zakk Wylde) (7/8/2013)
A few years ago, the editors of Guitar World magazine compiled what we feel is the ultimate guide to the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time. The list, which has been quoted by countless artists, websites and publications around the world, sta...
My Night Playing Duane Allman’s Guitar (4/15/2013)
I had the thrill of my musical life last year when I got to play Duane Allman’s 1957 Goldtop Les Paul on a Macon, Georgia, stage. I grew up listening to Lonnie Mack playing in bars around my Ohio hometown and have been greatly influenced by Eri...
Video: Watch the Unboxing of 'Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective' Box Set (2/28/2013)
The new video below offers Duane Allman fans a sneak peak at the new seven-disc Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective Box Set. The set, which will be released March 5 on Rounder Records, includes rare recordings by Allman's early bands, includi...
Seven-Disc Duane Allman Box Set, 'Skydog,' Expected in March (1/28/2013)
On March 5, Rounder Records will release Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective, a deluxe, seven-disc box set. The set, which will sell for $139.98, contains Allman's best-known and most commercially successful recordings with the Allman Brother...
'Skydog: The Duane Allman Story' is Newly Revised and Expanded (9/17/2012)
Now in paperback, Randy Poe's Skydog: The Duane Allman Story (Backbeat Books) is revised and expanded, with a new afterword by the author, plus a foreword by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. It's the definitive biography of Duane Allman, one of the most...
Poll: The Greatest Guitarist of All Time, Round 4 — Stevie Ray Vaughan Vs. Duane Allman (9/10/2012)
Welcome to our first-ever Greatest Guitarist poll, where 128 132 guitarists go head to head, round by round, in a bracketed format, all to crown your choice for the Greatest Guitarist of All Time. We filled all but four of the slots with the nam...
Poll: The Greatest Guitarist of All Time, Round 3 — Duane Allman Vs. Dickey Betts (8/16/2012)
Welcome to our first-ever Greatest Guitarist poll, where 128 guitarists go head to head, round by round, in a bracketed format, all to crown your choice for the Greatest Guitarist of All Time. We filled 124 of 128 slots with the names of a host ...
Break Down Duane Allman's Style and Technique, Step by Step (8/8/2012)
The lesson book Duane Allman: A Step-by-Step Breakdown of His Guitar Styles and Techniques lets you explore the songs and solos of Southern rock guitar legend Duane Allman. It is available now at the Guitar World Online Store for $22.95.