Country music is at its best when the song is both highly personal yet extremely universal. There are few things better than a song that provides a glimpse into an artist’s life yet also makes you feel like you’ve lived that lyric too. That’s the case with Dennis Quaid’s new single “Friends,” a poignant exploration of individuality, acceptance and the value of friendship.
“I wrote it the week after the riots. I was there in Los Angeles watching and I was just so saddened by it, having grown up as a kid in the ’60s. The riots were happening and the civil rights movement. There was a lot going on then, but it seemed like even with the strife that was going on, there was still a dialogue that was happening,” Quaid told Sounds Like Nashville during a recent visit to Nashville. “There were still people and faces to go with identification of those movements in that dialogue. Now days it doesn’t matter who you are, black or white or whatever, where are those people that are the voices of where we’re trying to go for all of us? And so I just came home one night, sat down on the bed and it just spilled out in about 20 minutes.”
Quaid recorded the song at NightBird Studios in Los Angeles. “Underneath the Sunset Marquis Hotel in LA, there’s a studio down there and I just produced it myself,” he says. “I took my guitar player Jamie [James]. We rehearsed it a lot and then we went in and that’s one take. It’s very raw. There’s nothing added to it. It’s two guitars and a vocal and so I think I might go in and re-record it as well for a radio version. I’m going to re-record it within the next couple of weeks. I found a way rhythmically and tempo-wise that I can still keep the same feeling of it, but I cut out a good 45 seconds so which will put it under the 3:45 that they like to see. I’m really excited about that and I think it could take on a life of it’s own.”
In addition to being a call for unity, the song is also a celebration of friendship, including a close friend he met studying drama in college. “He’s my best friend of 40 years. Sometimes I feel like ‘God I just wish I could get rid of him,’ but I can’t. It’s not going to happen,” he says flashing that signature mischievous grin. “We disagree about everything, but we’re still best friends.
“I do have friends closer than my brothers and my best friend was my mother,” he says of his beloved mom, Juanita Quaid, who passed away in August of 2019 at 92. “I’ve been around the world and you connect. You don’t know where friends are coming from, it just really happens. It’s like falling in love. It really is. It’s something you can’t control.”
In addition to releasing the new single, Quaid is also working on a gospel album and a country project as well. “The next record is not going to be with the Sharks,” he says of his longtime band. “It will be my guitarist Jamie and I and more acoustic because we started to do a lot of gigs just the two of us in little rooms, which really focuses on songwriting, listening to the words and the experience with the audience in more of a listening type environment rather than the party type environment. I love the people having a good time and the Sharks will go on, but as far as a record, I really want it kind of stripped down. Country music is my roots. That’s really where I want to go and I have a backlog of songs that I’m ready to go with.”
Quaid and his wife Laura are contemplating a move to Nashville. “Both of us just connect with Nashville so much,” he says. “My grandfather actually was from Tennessee and came to Texas in a covered wagon in 1903. I’ve got cousins who live here, so it’s a natural fit for me and I just love this town. The people here are really why I want to be a part of the community. LA has been very good for me for acting and business and stuff like that. I have really great friends, but it’s maybe a point in life I feel like I belong here more.”