Sorry You Couldn't Make It is the long awaited "country album" from the legendary Swamp Dogg, a.k.a. soul and R&B singer-songwriter Jerry Williams Jr.. Recorded in Nashville, featuring John Prine, Justin Vernon, Jenny Lewis, and others.
Although the 77-year-old Williams' most enduring persona is the psychedelic soul superhero Swamp Dogg — a musical vigilante upholding truths both personal and political since 1970's immortal album, Total Destruction To Your Mind — he will tell anybody who will listen that he's considered himself country this entire time. "If you notice I use a lot of horns," Swamp says. "But actually, if you listen to my records before I start stacking shit on it, I'm country. I sound country."
Swamp began his professional singing career as Little Jerry Williams back in the ‘50s before working as an A&R man for Atlantic Records in the late ‘60s. His biggest hit is actually a country song: 1970's "Don't Take Her (She's All I Got)." Written with his best friend Gary U.S. Bonds, the track is country in that woeful, underdog-baring-their-soul sort of way that for some reason only country songs really ever allow themselves to be. Freddie North covered it first and made it a Top 40 pop song, but Johnny Paycheck took it all the way to No. 2 on the country charts in 1971.
A band of 14 players, including Vernon, Lee, Beirden, and Moogstar, among others, provides the background for Swamp's devastating new take on "Don't Take Her (She's All I Got)." Lead single "Sleeping Without You Is A Dragg" is one of Swamp's most heartfelt songs to date and features Vernon on piano as well as backing vocals by Lewis and Leaneagh.
Sorry You Couldn't Make It sees Swamp come full circle, and closes what has felt to him like unfinished business. "They didn't have any blacks in country until Charlie Pride came along," he says. "But in time, all things change and that's what has happened to country music." Surveying today's Nashville reality, Swamp sees opportunity: artists as divergent as Darius Rucker and Lil Nas X are converging in a genre that he once worried might never give him his shot. "I'm anxious because it's like I've taken all my money and put it on one horse," he says. "But I believe in this horse."