In 1955, The Louvin Brothers were climbing the charts with their first Top Ten hit, “When I Stop Dreaming.” Since that time, the heartbreaking song has become one of the most celebrated in the duo’s repertoire. It has been covered by dozens of acts, including George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Glen Campbell, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Etta James, among many others.
“I’m associated with California a lot because of that other band that I play in, but I really and truly was born and raised in Cass County, Texas. I’m a Southerner and a Texan,” Henley explained. “I have ancestors in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia. So this is a natural progression for me. It’s not me trying to do the ‘Don Henley country album.’ It’s who I am and where I come from.”
The album also featured appearances from Trisha Yearwood, Miranda Lambert, Merle Haggard, Mick Jagger, Martina McBride, Ashley Monroe, Alison Krauss, and more.
“I chose people that I respect musically,” Henley said. “People whose work I respect, whose voices I like, who are all great, authentic singers who can really sing when called upon to sing. Some of them are friends of mine, and some of them I had never met before. I was flattered and flabbergasted when all of them said, ‘Yeah.'”
Both Heart-Wrenching And Stunningly Beautiful Song
Written by The Louvin Brothers, Charlie Louvin, and Ira Louvin, “When I Stop Dreaming” is truly a bittersweet song that tells the tale of longing for the one you love, knowing you will never be able to forget about them.
“The worst that I’ve ever been hurt in my life, the first time I ever have wanted to die, was the night when you told me you loved someone else and you asked me if I could forget. When I stop dreaming, that’s when I’ll stop loving you,” the song goes.
Henley also revealed that he enjoyed listening to the radio with his father while growing up in Cass County, Texas. And it was when he was only eight years old when he first heard “When I Stop Dreaming,” and it quickly became one of the songs he particularly liked.
So, it was no longer a surprise when the song was included on his 2015 album. To help recreate Louvins’ close harmonies, Henley called upon Parton, who’s had a history with the song. Parton once sang backup on Emmylou Harris’ take on the song from Harris’ album Luxury Liner, released in 1977.
“I think we had about two or three takes with Dolly,” Henley said. “She comes in and goes, ‘I know this song; I used to do it with Porter (Wagoner).’ She sings it once, and she goes, ‘Mmm, it’s in a pretty high key for me. I guess I’ll just have to rare back and get it.’ And, boy, she did. What a voice that girl has, coming out of such a small person.”
Listening to the song, you’ll enjoy as Henley took the lead while Parton delivered impeccable Appalachian-laced harmony, wringing tears out of every note. Being able to portray such authentic feelings doesn’t come easy, but these two talented singers succeed.
You can see it for yourself in the video below.
Dolly Parton, Don Henley