This is an album about time, distance and perspective, written in the midst of upheavals, smiles and sadnesses. So, that's quite rare, yes? It's my first solo ("solo" meaning, "couldn't have been done alone") set since my son was born, so please don't tell him if you don't like it. I sense he already distrusts my artistic impulses, and we're trying to encourage him to be less critical. Everybody hates a critic, especially a critic in diapers.

I'm writing this as wind sweeps through unfamiliar trees and unfamiliar birds trill unfamiliar calls in a gorgeous and unfamiliar place called Tamworth, Australia, which reminds me not to complain about the traveling life. I can hear a bagpipe playing in the distance, which reminds me why I don't have a bagpipe on this album.

Hey, the bagpipe is okay. But it's no Lloyd Green. Lloyd’s brilliant steel guitar work graces each of these songs, and Lloyd’s intelligence and creativity are evident in every note.

Thanks to anyone who lends an ear and doesn't ask for it back.
-Peter Cooper
I presented each of these songs to my favorite musician, steel guitar maestro Lloyd Green, as nearly blank canvases, shaded only by acoustic guitar and vocal. He drew the paintings, and then some of our friends came by and framed the whole deal.

- Peter Cooper
Growing up in the Washington, D.C. area, our instrumental hero was Mike Auldridge, who played Dobro for the Seldom Scene, a pioneering progressive bluegrass band that played every week at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va. As it turned out, Mike had a hero as well: pedal steel legend Lloyd Green, whose work with the Byrds, Don Williams and others had elevated Nashville steel and Dobro playing into something of other-worldly elegance. Lloyd took notice of Mike's playing as well, and the two became mutual admirers, even collaborating on Mike's 1976 tune "Lloyd's of Nashville," written in Mr. Green's honor. But they'd never made a full-length album together, until now.

So this was our bright idea: Invite these two giants of their instruments into a Nashville studio to have a musical conversation with each other, using some songs we wrote and some we chose as conversation-starters. We surrounded Mike and Lloyd with the most talented and sympathetic musicians we know, asked them all to start playing, and proceeded to have the time of our musical lives. In the end, Mike and Lloyd said they rank these recordings with their finest and most fulfilling, and we found a way to make our heroes smile. We hope you like it, too.

- Peter Cooper
Eric Brace and I toured Holland and Germany together in 2008, and it was more fun to sing together than to do separate sets. So we sang together, and we had a ball, and people clapped and smiled and sometimes bought us drinks. "We're onto something," we thought, and we made plans to record an album. We collected some of our favorite songs from some of our favorite people - every song on the album is written either by us or by a friend of ours - and then we headed to the studio with some of the greatest musicians in the world. So now there's an album out, and it has Lloyd Green and Tim O'Brien and Dave Roe and Jen Gunderman and Richard Bennett and Tim Carroll and Kenny Vaughan and Daniel Tashian and Jon Byrd on it. Hey, we've even got Scotty Huff playing the flugelhorn (Don't try that at home, friends).

Then we gave a copy to Rodney Crowell, and he said, "Eric Brace and Peter Cooper have made a new record called You Don't Have To Like Them Both. Well, guess what? I like them both, a lot. Think of what you liked best about Gordon Lightfoot, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Gram Parsons and Roy Acuff, and then thank God these lads like each other enough to offer up such a smoking good batch of songs."

And then we thought, "That was a really, really nice thing for Rodney Crowell to say."

Click on individual song titles for the stories behind the songs, and for the lyrics to "The Man Who Loves To Hate" and "Denali, Not McKinley."

-Peter Cooper
I called the greatest steel guitar player alive and said, "Lloyd, I've got these songs that I need some help with." And then Lloyd Green - the guy who played on The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo as well as major works by Paul McCartney, Charley Pride, Johnny Paycheck, Nanci Griffith, Don Williams and so many others - went to work. I gave Lloyd a batch of songs, most of which I wrote, and he transformed them. Then we called in the best players and singers we knew to round the thing out. Todd Snider plays harmonica and sings. Bill Lloyd plays a whole lot of electric guitar and contributes a bunch of harmonies. Jen Gunderman (formerly of The Jayhawks and currently of Last Train Home) plays some remarkable piano, Wurlitzer, Rhodes and accordion. Pat McInerney and Paul Griffith play percussion, Dave Roe (yeah, the guy who played with Johnny Cash for years) is on the bass, Nanci Griffith and Fayssoux McClean do some singing and other luminaries show up as well. I mean, that's Jason Ringenberg of Jason and the Scorchers playing harmonica on "They Hate Me." There are plenty of things that bother me. Living in Nashville is not one of those things.

This is my first full-length album, and I hope you like it. I must give thanks and credit to Todd Snider, who insisted that this was a good idea. And also thanks to Kris Kristofferson and Tom T. Hall, two people to whom I've always looked up, who ratified the whole deal in the end. Had Kris and Tom T. not liked it, I would have kept it to myself.

Mission Door was engineered by Richard McLaurin and Adam Bednarik, and it was mastered by Alex McCollough at YES Master. I hope it's good for a laugh, a tear or a whistle.

If you want to know more, click on the individual song titles. I'll tell you the stories behind the stories.

- Peter Cooper

The Clown Juice EP

This nearly half of an album was recorded in January of 2005 at an unnamed studio in East Nashville. Eric McConnell mixed this and the mastering was by Jim Demain at YES Master.

- Peter Cooper