Sara Evans: The 'Copy That' Covers Conversation

Disco, New Wave and Soft Rock from 70s and 80s Have Never Sounded So Good

When you first hear that a country artist is releasing an entire album of covers, you naturally assume it will be all classic country covers.

But Sara Evans has cast a much wider net than that.

Her Copy That album -- due out on Friday (May 15) -- goes way, way back to the songs of the 70s and 80s. And only two of them are country songs.

Instead, Evans pulled ideas for the song stack from radio hits when she was just a kid, but a kid who played in a covers band growing up in Missouri. The majority of these songs come from the pop music of the 70s and 80s. It's almost as if you were listening to the same Top 40 radio stations that I was in middle school. How did you came up with these particular songs?

Evans: I grew up in a cover band. I started singing when I was four years old (around 1975) with my older brothers in cover bands. And so every weekend, I was singing in a bar and watching drunk people try to two-step. So I have been covering Reba, Patsy Cline, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Belinda Carlisle and so many others. I mean, you name it, I covered it. And that's an art, because you want to choose songs that are cool, but they don't have to really popular. I always tell people who haven't made it yet and they're booking gigs for their first jobs, "Don't play any (expletive) original songs." I learned how to do that my entire life: choosing the best songs to cover. So I feel like I'm good at it because of that.

Okay, but still. How did you narrow it down to these 13?

I just kept listening to the XM 60s station, 70s station, 80s station. Then I would make this huge running list and just kept sending songs back and forth in group texts going on with my brother, my sister, my kids and my husband. And so we were all just throwing in ideas constantly.

Well you certainly chose well. Because there isn't a middle-aged woman alive who won't love the Carole King and Fleetwood Mac songs. But then you throw in some Dexys Midnight Runners and Yvonne Elliman and The Knack. It sounds so cliché to say it's diverse collection, but that's exactly what it is.

Even when I didn't understand the meaning of some of these songs, they are what they are and they're just iconic. And I really wanted to blow people's minds by showing them that I can sing anything, and that I'm so much more than just the singles that you've heard on the radio. I'm a better singer today than I ever have been. I wanted to show everybody that I can sing like that.

I bet there were a lot of songs that you wanted to cut but it would've made the album 12 hours long. Am I right?

For sure. There were so many songs that I wanted to put on it. I'm going to have to do a Volume II. Just yesterday, Jay and I were driving around and that A-ha song, "Take on Me" (1974) came on. I'm like, "Oh my God, we have to record that." But we just had to call it done at one point. Because it's like you can just go on and on forever and never make up your mind. So we were like, "This is it. This is our list."

Well, you nailed it. I have a group text of my own with friends from grade school and high school, and this is definitely going to be our soundtrack for our next weekend trip -- God willing, it will be soon -- because this track list is so well done since it's got those older and kind of obscure songs that weren't treasured enough. You know? It's not the cover songs that have been covered to death.

We definitely have a little bit of everything. But there's no question I am going to do more volumes. And I'm going to do it the same way: I'm going to copy the songs just as they were. This is just fine with me to choose the right songs and then make them sound more modern. In the middle is right where we went.

Listen to Evans' take on Yvonne Elliman's slow-dance disco hit "If I Can't Have You" 1977.

Copy That Track List:

Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You" 1977

The Pretenders' "Don't Get Me Wrong" 1986

Dexys Midnight Runners' "Come on Eileen" 1982

Poco's "Crazy Love" 1979

Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks' "Whenever I Call You "Friend" (featuring Phillip Sweet) 1978

Carole King's "It's Too Late" 1971

Fleetwood Mac's "Monday Morning" 1975

John Mayer's "All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye" 2009

Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"(featuring Old Crow Medicine Show) 1949

The Wallflowers "6th Avenue Heartache" 1996

The Knack's "My Sharona" 1979

Patsy Cline's "She's Got You" 1962

Chicago "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" 1982

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