The idea for this kind of video started long before the pandemic quarantine.
In our healthier and more carefree days, before we were all sheltering in place, Charlie Worsham had been doing what he called cover challenges for years, playing all the instruments, and making videos that might cheer someone up. “When shelter in place became a reality, I wanted to find a way to connect with friends that might help us feel less helpless,” Worsham told CMT.com. “The Beatles have always been a touchstone of hope for me, and when a fan suggested this song online, I knew I had to give it a shot.”
Worsham considers himself lucky to be in Nashville, he said, because he is surrounded with so many talented people with kind hearts and home studios. “The only problem was stopping myself from inviting another 20 friends to participate. We could do another 10 of these, each with unique artists, and we’d still just be scratching the surface of what our community has to offer,” he added.
“My sincere hope is that through this video, people might discover a new favorite artist or find a new way to help those in need. For example, Fancy Hagood, who’s been sheltering in place with John Osborne and Lucie Silvas, and who is a stellar artist deserving of the world’s attention, just lost his home in the tornadoes that ripped through Nashville. I encourage anyone who enjoys this video to make a donation if they’re able to do so. We get by, after all, with a little help from our friends.
CMT.com: This is genius, Charlie. Whose idea was it to make a virtual video?
Worsham: Gosh, I used to do these things called cover challenges, in which the challenge was to record all the instruments to a cover version of a song and mix it and produce a video of the process in 24 hours. With shelter in place, I found the calendar open for a cover challenge, but I thought it’d be the perfect time to bend the rules and bring in some friends to help. The song was a perfect fit…it was suggested by a fan of course!
You’re playing banjo, drums, guitars, tambourine, and singing lead vocals. What made you want to play all those instruments? Just because you love to?
Absolutely because I love to, and also because I am a bit of a studio nerd. I love building sounds and laying down a sonic foundation with different instruments. In this case, so much of my decision making was driven by how best to feature not just myself but all my amazingly talented friends. And if you’ll notice I hand off drumming duties to a professional about halfway through. 😂
But why did you have sheets over your drums?
I remember watching the Beatles Anthology, as well as studying and listening to the Beatles obsessively, often with my dad, who is a drummer. One thing he pointed out was how Ringo would have sheets over the tom toms to give them a deadened sound. It’s a Beatley “thump” to my ears and I often try and copy what they did in the studio.
Where were you set up and who was filming you?
All of my videos were shot in the music room in our house, and my sweet wife Kristen, who is a wizard with video and any visual production helped me level up my video content by shooting and directing it. (Check her out here.)
Why this song? It’s perfect and such a positive message right now, but I imagine there were a few others you considered before landing on this one.
I did post a video a few weeks ago asking folks to suggest songs of hope. I’ve been reading the Mavis Staples biography and was very tempted to cover “I’ll Take You There,” but a sweet fan suggested this particular tune, which is what sent my gears turning that maybe this whole project could be collaborative.
What are you hoping viewers will take away from this video?
I hope everyone who watches it feels a little lighter in the chest, breathes a little deeper, maybe smiles, maybe makes that phone call that a quarantine makes possible. And for anyone who hears this and appreciates the brilliant community of creators we have here in Nashville, and if they’re in a position to do so, I hope they’ll consider making a donation to some of the worthy causes helping get the music community back on its feet. My two favorites are Porter’s Call (for mental health) and MusiCares (for everything else).
What kind of direction did you give each player to set up their virtual recording process at home? Or did you just give them the freedom to do whatever?
I think the direction landed somewhere in between. These are all friends of mine, and I’m fortunate to know just how talented and unique they all are, so I gave very loose suggestions, mostly thoughts on where to step out and where to play more of a supportive/backing role. Everyone sent so much great stuff that the hardest part of the process was having to mute and edit some of the good stuff to make room for everyone else’s good stuff. Good problem to have!
Any tech troubles? I can’t even have a virtual happy hour on Zoom with my friends without something going wrong.
Funny enough, what we all did in this project is what Nashville does every day. Honestly, I barely scratched the surface when it comes to world-class talent in the 615 that has a Pro Tools rig at home. It’s the 21st century version of what Chet Atkins and all the great studio innovators of Nashville established decades ago. Everything felt like smooth sailing. Maybe we had some slow video uploads given that the world is getting by on a wifi connection these days.
Is this your touring band or just session musicians you’re friends with? Or all of the above?
They’re all just great friends. Many of whom I have toured with, either for my own shows or backing someone else, or even from a former lifetime of touring. But all friends who I believe in so much and want the world to know. Over half of them have kindly given their time and talent before to help me with my Every Damn Monday shows at Basement East, which adds to the depth of this recording for me.
Which guitar player has those sweet little girls dancing in the background?
Rachel Loy! Rachel Loy is a force of nature, lemme tell ya. She’s one of the most in-demand session players in this town, with a big ole stack of songs she’s written and records she’s produced that will blow your mind. She is a fabulous artist in her own right: check out her Sh!t List show at 3rd and Lindsley when we are all out in the world again. But she’s also an amazing mom to three kids, and those girls dancing in the background are her daughters. 💪🏼
“With A Little Help From My Friends: Charlie Worsham Cover Challenge” cast list:
Billy Justineau on piano, b3, prophet, mellotron
Molly Tuttle on acoustic guitar
Rachel Loy on bass
Jillian Jacqueline on vocals
Tucker Wilson on drums
Stephen Wilson, Jr on vocals
Leigh Bird Nash on vocals
Fancy Hagood on vocals
Lucie Silvas on vocals
John Osborne on electric guitar
Sadler Vaden on electric guitar