Old Dominion's unlikely, unplanned visit to the “Lonely Side of Town” with the Empress of Soul

Arista Nashville

When Kenny Rogers tried to record “Islands in the Stream” solo, it just didn’t work. But it wasn’t long before he and producer/writer Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees suspected Dolly Parton might be what was missing. She happened to be nearby in Los Angeles, and a country/pop classic was born.

Last year when CMA and ACM Group of the Year Old Dominion traveled to North Carolina to write and record their fourth album, a similar thing happened on a song called “Lonely Side of Town.”

“We weren’t thinking about having a collaboration on it,” lead singer Matthew Ramsey tells ABC Audio. “We had written it, and we’d tracked it, and were just listening to it and thought, like ‘Man it would be cool to have somebody like Gladys Knight on this thing.’”

“It’s this weird mix of like Motown and the Eagles kind of in one song,” he explains, “and we could just hear her on it. And when we said her name, somebody was like, ‘She lives in Asheville… right down the street from us.’”

“So it was just kinda like this moment of ‘This has to be meant to be then,’” Matthew remembers.

From there, it wasn’t long before the 77-year-old “Midnight Train to Georgia” hitmaker arrived.

“We talked to the studio manager and she was like, ‘Oh, yeah. I’m great friends with them, I’ll call her,’” Matthew recalls in minor disbelief. “And so she called her and Gladys was like, ‘I love those guys. I don’t even need to hear the song. I’ll be a part of it.’”

“So it was amazing,” he laughs.  

You can hear Matthew and the soul legend contemplate a trip to the “Lonely Side of Town” when Time, Tequila, & Therapy arrives October 8.


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