“The whole album just kind of fell into place and I just kind of got out of the way of it,” Ray Wylie Hubbard tells Apple Music of his 18th full-length. That’s the low-key perspective of a singer-songwriter whose four-decade-spanning catalog of leathery Southwestern mysticism and wit is admired by many of his fellow music-makers. His 10-song set features a slew of them—big names like Ringo Starr and Ronnie Dunn and well-kept secrets alike—spanning country, rock, blues, and folk. “Each song kind of dictated who was going to sing on it,” he explains. “When I asked all these cats to be on it, I didn't have to use guilt or shame—I'm not above using that, but I didn't have to. I just called them up and they all said yeah, they would do it. That was so gratifying and humbling.” Here, Hubbard talks through all of the collaborations on the aptly named Co-Starring. Bad Trick (feat. Ringo Starr, Don Was, Joe Walsh & Chris Robinson) “I'd met Ringo about five, six years ago. A fellow named Brent Carpenter, who does all of his videos, burned Ringo [2006's] Snake Farm. So someone said, ‘Ringo's talking about you on his website.’ The next time I was out in LA, Brent Carpenter came to the gig at McCabe's and said, ‘Ringo's playing at the Greek Theatre tomorrow and would like to meet you.’ I went by there with my drummer and met Ringo. We just kind of hit it off. I guess about two years ago, we were in Santa Fe backstage, and he said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Well, I'm making this record.’ He said, ‘Well, if you need a drummer, let me know.’ And I thought he was just being kind of gracious. I wrote this song with my wife, Judy, and there was a pause in there, a hole. I [thought of] the drum fill from ‘Get Back.’ I went to his studio and he played drums on the track, with just me and my vocal and guitar. He said, ‘Who are you going to get to play bass?’ And I said, ‘I don't really know.’ He said, ‘How about Don Was? I'll ask him. Who are you going to get to play guitar?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don't know.’ He said, ‘How about my brother-in-law?’ Because of Ringo, I got Don Was and Joe Walsh on there. You can't say no to Ringo, you just can't.” Rock Gods (feat. Aaron Lee Tasjan) “It was the weekend of the Route 91 festival when that horrible [massacre] happened, and then all of a sudden right after that, Tom Petty passed away. It was a grieving process. I had never met Tom at all, but he meant so much to me with his fearless attitude and independence. So I just kind of started getting those images. The thought occurred to me that Aaron Lee Tasjan would be perfect for ‘Rock Gods,’ just because he's got that Tom Petty cool rock vibe to him.” Fast Left Hand (feat. The Cadillac Three) “They called me up and asked me to open some shows for them in New Orleans and Houston and Dallas. I was fascinated by the power that they had. When we went into the studio, I said, ‘Here's the song. I'm not going to play on it. Y'all just take it and do what you want to do.’ What they brought to it was just this incredible badass rock ’n’ roll mojo. They've got their chops together, but they also have this incredible attitude and just really brought it to a place that went beyond what I was hoping for. I’m very grateful to those cats, because they were the first ones that I actually got in the studio and tracked.” Mississippi John Hurt (feat. Pam Tillis) “I started off in high school in folk music. I was a cut-and-dried desert-boot folk singer in the late ’60s. I discovered Dylan and then, of course, Woody Guthrie, and then I got into some of the Greenwich folk singers—Eric Andersen, Paul Siebel. Then you discover—and all these guys rediscovered with the folk boom—Mississippi John Hurt and Son House and Mance Lipscomb. The thing about Mississippi John Hurt was just so clean. His fingerpicking is remarkable, and it was an influence. I've written songs in the past where I've acknowledged people who have meant something to me. When I [wrote] ‘Mississippi John Hurt,’ I just got that [guitar] pattern going and it just came to me. Pam Tillis has such an angelic voice. I've been a fan of hers forever. I met her at the Nashville airport. As I'm walking in the Nashville airport, all of a sudden I hear this voice behind me go, ‘Ray Wiley.’ I turn around, she goes, ‘I recognize the back of your head.’ So she was the voice I wanted there.” Drink Till I See Double (feat. Paula Nelson & Elizabeth Cook) “I'd had that title for a long time and I got with Ronnie Dunn. We just kind of kicked it around. I wrote some and he wrote some. When it came time to [record] it, I said, ‘Well, I need two female singers to sing on it, so it sounds like the protagonist is not only seeing double, he's hearing double.’ I've been a fan of Paula Nelson and Elizabeth Cook. Elizabeth, we did a bunch of shows together, and she's just phenomenal and cool. I figured she would get it, you know? And I really liked Paula Nelson's because her voice is unique. It's got some sort of little funky, cool edge to it that I really like. So I asked them and they both said yes.” R.O.C.K. (feat. Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown) “I had the chorus of an anthem at a big rock show. Tyler had opened for Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC. We got together and wrote the first verse. We were just sitting there playing and I just kind of ad-libbed. We were kind of looking for an ending and they were just kind of jamming, and so I just named-dropped him in it. I have no problem name-dropping, as you can probably tell.” Outlaw Blood (feat. Ashley McBryde) “Ashley McBryde—it had to be her, because she has this independent vibe about her and just thinks for herself. I mean, who else could I get for ‘Outlaw Blood’? When I saw her perform a solo on a TV awards show, she just came out and just nailed it. I mean, it had this incredible emotion and she was just fearless. Once she said she would do this song, I rewrote it and added, ‘She loves to hear Ashley McBryde sing.’” Rattlesnake Shakin’ Woman (feat. Larkin Poe) “The whole idea is that there was that old Peter Green song with Fleetwood Mac called ‘Rattlesnake Shake.’ I was just Googling it and saw Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac were on the old Playboy After Dark show. The band's playing the song ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ and it's at this club and this woman comes up with a tattoo above her hips and just, ‘Hey, let's go outside.’ This woman has a swagger about her. She’s empowered enough to say what she thinks. I was just using my imagination of this woman who's empowered enough to say what she thinks. I've always admired independent women, and I've always loved Rebecca and Megan Lovell.” Hummingbird (feat. Peter Rowan) “I'd always been a Martin [guitar] guy back when I was a folk singer, and then I kind of got into Gibsons and I really liked kind of that low-end thump for blues and stuff. My son, Lucas, worked for Gibson and he got me a Hummingbird. At our house we have a hummingbird feeder. I was just sitting there one day and these little hummingbirds were going around. I was playing a Hummingbird, so it just felt like, ‘I need to write about this moment.’ It was just an acoustic thing. Peter Rowan has that incredible bluegrass legacy of mandolin and acoustic guitar. He played so cool and laidback, subtle. It was just perfect.” The Messenger (feat. Ronnie Dunn & Pam Tillis) “I've known Ronnie for a while, and I just always liked the sincerity of his voice. Even when he was doing stuff like doing ‘Boot Scootin' Boogie,’ there was still something about his voice that you could tell, ‘This is a standup guy.’ They inducted him into the Texas Heritage Songwriter Hall of Fame, and he came down here and introduced me. He didn't have to do that. That song is very special to me, and knowing Ronnie and Pam means a great deal.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada