Lionel Richie Cut-By-Cut

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Lionel Richie's 2012 CD, Tuskegee. Photo courtesy of UMG Nashville.

8. "Sail On" with Tim McGraw

"Tim was my second experiment into how to record Nashville style, which means the artist will be sitting right in the room with you while you cut the track and we’ll sit around and tell some stories and anything that could be wrong because if you’ve got to work with an artist, you don’t want the artist to sit around and wait for the band. But in this case, Tim knew the band. Tim knew everybody in the room because that’s what Tim does. He does the tracks and the songs in Nashville. I was the newcomer.

"He has the best personality in the world, and on top of that, he told me more stories about his growing up. I kept hearing about his career and how these songs meshed in his life. Then he said, ‘I want to sing ‘Sail On.’’ He was just convinced that this is it.

"By the way, the two of us together, it sounds like we’ve been singing that song, Sam and Dave style, for the last 400 years to the point that he owned it so much that it’s a part of his show now.

"The voices fit perfectly. I’d love to tell you that I had something to do with the choosing of the song, but this is the passion from the other side. So a lot of times you have to get out of the way and let the artist find their songs. I think towards the end you can tell that we were having a lot of fun because we were talking more through the song, hollering at each other about what we were singing than anything else, but loved it."

Tim McGraw: "Lionel Richie has the unique ability to combine what I love about country music with what he does with R&B. Really, R&B and country are pretty close cousins, and Lionel has a way of making both sound so real, bringing such a great element of the lyric from country music with the great melodies of R&B, so it just becomes great soul music all the way around. I grew up listening to him, sitting down at the piano learning to play his songs, and as a country artist, it felt totally and completely natural to me to sing a Lionel Richie song.

"‘Sail On’ has always been one of my favorite Lionel Richie songs on a long list of favorite songs ever of any artist. So to get a chance to record with him, and on this song in particular, it’s just something very special to me. I had a lot of first experiences with Lionel Richie songs -- first dances, first ass grabbin’, all kinds of things -- his songs are special to me because of my memories. He’s special to me as an artist because of the respect I have for him as a musician, as a songwriter, and as a singer, and it was a special memory for me to go into the studio with him."

9. "Endless Love" with Shania Twain

"‘Endless Love’ with Shania Twain was the obstacle course of life. First of all, I love her. The concept of her not thinking she had a voice was just criminal. I was not going to take, ‘I can’t do it’ for an answer. I was not going to have it done. So every time she tried to walk out a side door, ‘OK Lionel, maybe I don’t want to do this,’ or, ‘Maybe I can’t do this,’ I said, ’Sure you can. I’ll fly to Florida.’ ‘I know, Lionel, but I don’t want to do it in Florida.’ ‘OK, I’ll fly to the Bahamas.’ ‘OK Lionel, but there’s no studio in the Bahamas." ‘Great, we’ll do it in a house. I mean, anything. Let me just box you in.’

"Finally, she stood in front of that microphone. It’s very special that everyone knows that the first note that you hear on ‘Endless Love’ is the first note she hit. I left it on there just for her. After telling me probably 10 minutes before, ‘I don’t think I can sing this,’ she sang, ‘My first love.’ I think her eyes opened up and she said, ‘Did that come out of my voice?’ I said, ‘Yeah, that came out of your mouth.’ Of course the rest is musical history now. She just needed a moment to stand in front of that microphone again to remind us of what that voice really sounds like.

"She is just magical as a person, personality-plus. I can’t say enough about her. She had the OWN television show going at the same time, a special called ‘Finding Her Voice.’ I’m glad that at the end of ‘Shania Finds a Voice,’ she found it on ‘Endless Love.’"

10. "Just For You" with Billy Currington

"I tried finding a song that I thought fit Billy. It was the wrong song and then finally I heard his voice. I heard that growl and I said, ‘Stop! I have another song for him.’ ‘Just For You’ is the perfect song for Billy. When you hear it, it’s unbelievable.

"That song was a massive hit in Europe that we’re now bringing to America. I’m so happy to be able to let him present that song to America. It’s one of the new songs. It’s fabulous."