Listen Now: A Lost Song from Tony Joe White

A treasure trove of unreleased works from the late Louisiana songwriter will finally see the light of day on the Dan Auerbach–produced Smoke from the Chimney

Photo: Jim Marshall

Between his Muscle Shoals–recorded 1969 debut and his death in 2018, Tony Joe White took Louisiana swamp rock around the world. He toured extensively with some of the biggest acts of the 1970s, and the likes of Elvis and Tom Jones recorded his songs. His 1969 hit “Polk Salad Annie,” among others, remains a Southern classic

Blending blues, country, soul, and roots music, it’s the kind of sound capable of converting casual listeners into superfans, even when those listeners happen to be Grammy-winning musicians themselves. “As soon as I heard ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’—I think I heard it at a record shop, Hymie’s, in Minneapolis—I just remember it blowing my mind,” says Dan Auerbach, vocalist and guitar player for the Black Keys, who produced White’s forthcoming posthumous release, Smoke from the Chimney. “I bought the record and became an instant fan.”

Auerbach would ultimately form a friendship with White’s son and manager, Jody, as well as meeting the Swamp Fox himself a few times at festivals and on tour. “We always talked about doing a record together, but it just never scheduled out,” Auerbach says. When White died, he left behind a treasure trove of unreleased songs and demos, and Jody began the massive job of sifting through the material. “He started to send me a couple of these finds,” Auerbach explains. “He just knew I would have loved to have heard some of these songs, and I couldn’t get enough of them.” 

With Jody’s blessing, Auerbach assembled an all-star studio band to flesh out the storied singer’s work, including Memphis heavyweights Bobby Wood on keys and drummer Gene Chrisman, alongside young guns like guitarist Marcus King. “These are the musicians who I would have hired if Tony Joe were here,” Auerbach says. “They would have loved each other. Part of the reason this worked is because it was the right people.” 

Today, G&G is proud to exclusively share Smoke from the Chimney’s title track, complete with an animated video directed by the artist El Oms. Hear the song and watch the video below. Smoke from the Chimney will be released on May 7 and is available for preorder now.