Why Sturgill Simpson Likes Cutting Albums in Places Like ‘Your Grandparents’ Nicotine-Stained Den’

by Victoria Santiago

Sturgill Simpson has recorded in pretty much every single room in Nashville. Along the way, he’s discovered what he does and does not like in a recording space. For one, it needs to be far removed from what a typical recording studio would look like. For example, he doesn’t like buildings that have multiple studios in them, and he doesn’t like it when there are a lot of interns around. Everything feels too rigid in places like that.

Instead, Simpson opts for more laid-back venues. To date, his favorite room was called The Butcher Shoppe. The now-closed Germantown room is where Simpson did some of his most prolific work. Some of the work recorded there includes 2016’s “A Sailor’s Guide To Earth,” 2020’s “Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1” and a few songs off of 2019’s “Sound & Fury.” The Butcher Shoppe closed down in 2020. Before that, it was run by the late songwriter John Prine and producer David Ferguson. The last album recorded in The Bucher Shoppe was Simpson with a bluegrass group called The Hillbilly Avengers.

“It was sad, man,” Simpson said during an interview with The Tennesseean. “That was the hangout. It was like sitting in your grandparent nicotine-stained den. It didn’t feel like a studio, which is why I loved it so much.” Simpson didn’t even know that the Butcher Shoppe was closing until Ferguson told him. After that, he began to process how much his time there had meant to him. It was also where he first met John Prine, whom he soon became fast friends with. Simpson and Prine became friends, collaborators, and even officemates before Prine died in 2020 due to COVID-19 complications.

Simpson Won’t Be Recording For Long

Sturgill Simpson records his music elsewhere now. He likes the Cowboy Jack Clement’s Cowboy Arms Hotel. The hotel attic where he cuts his records fits the only piece of criteria he has: it doesn’t look or feel like a studio. However, that might not be happening for long.

Sturgill Simpson recently said that he’s pretty much done with his solo career. Honestly, who could blame him? The pandemic turned everything upside down in the music industry, not to mention Simpson suffered a serious vocal cord injury in 2021. He’s spent a decade perfecting his craft, though, and it’s sad to see that go down the drain. Simpson is a versatile and skilled artist.

He has a good reason for leaving, though. He says he wants to start being a father to his children. We know how damaging music and entertainment can be for families. Simpson has three kids and is looking forward to spending time with them. He’ll be back home in rural Tennessee, but that doesn’t mean everything will stop cold turkey. He hasn’t elaborated yet, but Simpson says we’re in store for some other projects he’s currently working on.