Richie Furay

Back in the Country
Richie Furay
Richie Furay: Aaron Rappaport.

Richie Furay’s new album, In the Country, began with an invitation from a friend, Val Garay. Revered for his work producing Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Kim Carnes, James Taylor, and the Motels, Garay produced Furay’s 1979 solo album, I Still Have Dreams.

“We hadn’t worked together since,” Furay explains. “So, when he said, ‘Hey, you want to make another record with me?’ I thought it’d be kinda fun.”

Furay, 78, is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A founding member of Buffalo Springfield and founder of the pioneering country-rock band Poco, he worked with J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman in the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band before embarking on a solo career.

In the Country offers Furay’s spins on some of his favorite tunes spanning half a century, from “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and Ricky Nelson’s “Lonesome Town” to Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” and Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry and I Don’t Know Why.”

He tackled Garth Brooks’ “The River,” John Berry’s “Your Love Amazes Me,” Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” and, as a bonus track, a remake of Poco’s “Pickin’ Up the Pieces.”

Country, Furay explains, was part of his life during his boyhood in Yellow Springs, Ohio. His dad was a fan, but as a teenager he embraced rockabilly and later, folk music.

After Furay and Stephen Stills launched Buffalo Springfield in L.A. with Neil Young, country became part of their eclectic vision, notably on Young’s “I Am A Child,” and Furay’s originals “Kind Woman” and “A Child’s Claim to Fame.”

After Springfield’s 1968 breakup, Furay launched Poco, blending rich vocal harmonies and a Bakersfield-inspired sound enhanced by Rusty Young’s pedal steel. “Glenn Frey sat on my living room floor in Laurel Canyon as we were rehearsing,” he remembers.

Furay’s solo career began after Poco and Souther-Hillman-Furay disbanded. He later retired to pastor a Denver church, only to return with Christian-themed material and later, secular albums blending newer and older tunes.

Planning the new album, Furay and Garay compiled lists. John Berry’s “Your Love Amazes Me” was “…the very first song on Val’s list and my list. I just loved that song. To think years later, John would sing on the record and become a friend.”

As for “Walking in Memphis,” Cohn’s 1991 soft-rocker, “Val said, ‘That’s not really a country song, but I love it. We gotta find a way to put it on the album.’ Marc’s was pretty much piano-driven. We took those licks and made ’em guitar licks.”

Garay assembled a formidable band; bassist Glenn Worf, Tom Bukovac, who handled electric guitar, pedal-steeler Dan Dugmore, Steven Jay Nathan on keyboards, and drummer Victor Indrizzo. Furay suggested adding Chris Leuzinger.

“Every record I’ve made since 1997, I’ve recorded in Nashville, and Dan and Chris have been a part of it. I love their playing. Chris only played acoustic on the record, but what an electric-guitar player – just ask Garth (Brooks)!”

It took the ensemble just four days to record 14 songs.

“They are just so talented,” adds Furay. “I don’t get the feeling it’s ‘Okay, next!’ These guys were so into making this record.”

For the bonus track, a remake of Poco’s “Pickin’ Up the Pieces,” Furay recalls, “I told the guys let’s give it a different feel than the original – give it a little Bakersfield. Tom Bukovac is such a good guitar player – tremendous. We went out and it was one take. That was it!”

Despite playing guitar throughout his six-decade career, Furay discounts his own playing. “I’ve never thought of myself as a guitar player, per se. I’m a rhythm-guitar player. “

Onstage, he uses a Hummingbird. “It’s a new one and it has great sound. I plug it in and don’t have to do anything to it.”

His older gear remains at home.

“I have a very small collection,” he explains. “I’m not like Neil or Stephen.”

In addition to his Springfield-era ’59 ES-355, he owns a ’61 D-28 that stays home, a ’53 J-200, ’55 Gretsch Roundup, and a ’57 Gretsch Chet Atkins. He really likes his D’Angelico Excel ASG 100 and EX DC Standard, and Herco Golds are his longtime pick choice; he uses GHS Bronze strings.

Furay was deeply satisfied with another aspect of In the Country. “I was able to sing 90 percent of the songs live while the tracks were going down, and (the vocals) were kept. They were tweaked, but there’s just a different feel when I’m able to sing with the band. We’re playing off each other’s emotions. It’s like a live performance.”

This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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