“Will they remember the words to my song when I’m dead and gone?” Shooter Jennings asks in the new song “Leave Those Memories Alone.” The answer doesn’t really matter after you digest the next line: “While I’m here, I can’t remember the words to my own songs,” he admits.

“Leave Those Memories Alone,” a horn-laced slice of country-soul, was first recorded in 2017 for an album Jennings dubbed Over a Cocaine Rainbow. He says the record was too “dark and experimental” to release at the time, just two years after the death of his manager and friend Jon Hensley. The title of the song comes from something Hensley used to say.

“The first song I wrote for the album was taken from a title that the late great Colonel Jon Hensley had given me, ‘Leave Those Memories Alone,’” Jennings says in a statement. “After Jon passed away, I decided to write the song and make it a tribute to him. This will be the first in a series of releases from Over a Cocaine Rainbow. I’m very happy this song is finally seeing the light of day and am very proud of this whole album.

Jennings plans to release more songs from Over a Cocaine Rainbow, many of which are tributes to late friends.

The release of “Leave Those Memories Alone” marks a restart of sorts for Jennings as a solo artist. Since he put out his last album, 2018’s Shooter, he’s focused primarily on studio work, producing Grammy-winning albums for Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile. He produced Carlile’s latest, this year’s In These Silent Days, with Dave Cobb, and oversaw Jason Boland & the Stragglers’ upcoming alien abduction concept record, The Light Saw Me.

Earlier this year, Jennings released a remix of “From Here to Eternity,” off his superb 2016 tribute LP to Giorgio Moroder. The new version is dubbed the “Goof the Floof Remix,” a reference to something Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard once said in an interview.

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