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The cover of Steve Martins bluegrass album Rare Bird Alert. - Provided courtesy of Rounder

Steve Martin drops new album feat. Paul McCartney, Dixie Chicks

Get more: Steve Martin, Music
03/16/2011 by Corinne Heller

Steve Martin, an avid banjo player, comedian and actor, recently released his second bluegrass album, "Rare Bird Alert," which features collaborations with Paul McCartney and the Dixie Chicks.

Martin, known for his comedic roles in movies such as "The Three Amigos!" and "Father of the Bride," said that Lorne Michaels, creator of his old television show "Saturday Night Live," inspired him to ask the former Beatles member to sing on the song "Best Love."

"He said to me one day, 'You don't use your friends enough,'" Martin, 65, quoted Michaels as saying, in comments found on the album's liner notes. "I then began a most convoluted search for a contact number for Sir Paul, whom I had met briefly only twice, but then conveniently counted among my closest friends. Great thanks to him for showing up and throwing his heart into the song."

"You" features vocals from the Dixie Chicks.

"They sang the song beautifully, delivering it back to us gilded and wrapped with a bow," Martin said.

Martin's first debut bluegrass album, "The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo," won a Grammy in 2010 and featured vocals from Dolly Parton and Vince Gill.

The title of Martin's new record is similar to the plot line of his new film "The Big Year," which tells of three bird watchers who compete to spot the rarest birds in North America during a prestigious annual event. The movie stars Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Joel McHale, Anjelica Huston, and "Big Bang Theory" cast member Jim Parsons and is set for release on October 14.

Martin is currently touring the United States with the Steep Canyon Rangers, who can be heard on his album, and also plans to perform at the ROMP Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival in Owensboro, KY on June 23.

"Playing banjo live is hard," Martin wrote on his Twitter page recently. "It's almost like, gulp, 'work.'"

Check out the track listing for Steve Martin's album "Rare Bird Alert" below.

1. Rare Bird Alert
2. Yellow-Backed Fly
3. Best Love
4. Northern Island
5. Go Away, Stop, Turn Around, Come Back
6. Jubilation Day
7. More Bad Weather On the Way
8. You
9. The Great Remember (For Nancy)
10. Women Like To Slow Dance
11. Hide Behind a Rock
12. Atheists Don't Have No Songs
13. King Tut

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