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William Shatner: Actor. Author. Country Music Star?

“There’s that word again: Unique. I can’t think of a better word to describe it. I might challenge you to go into a record store or go online and find something like it.”

Jeff Cook, founding member and lead guitarist for Alabama, is home thinking about one of the odder projects he’s recorded in his 50-year career. Over the course of three days last year in Cook’s Alabama studio, William Shatner, Cook’s friend for nearly 40 years, hopped into the vocal booth and, with his own inimitable spoken-word style rarely seen in country music, laid down vocals for what would become Why Not Me?, his debut country album released last year.

“Things just flowed,” Cook tells Rolling Stone. “We rarely had to cut things over twice. I was surprised that we went through it as quick as we did.”

Beginning with 1968’s The Transposed Man album, which juxtaposed William Shakespeare works and other poems to contemporary pop songs (“Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “Mr. Tambourine Man”), William Shatner has long been a mercurial musical figure existing in his own universe. There’s the 1977 live double album, indulgent even for a time when indulgence was contractually obligated for most groups, that saw Shatner recite Cyrano and War of the Worlds. An oft-parodied spoken word version of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” arrived a year later, followed by an album of biblical readings, collaborations with everyone from his friend Brad Paisley to Bootsy Collins to Ben Folds and whatever the hell this is:

Most recently, Shatner released Shatner ClausThe Christmas Album, an update of classic Christmas songs featuring Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop

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