Stream Neal Casal & Johnny Irion’s Song ‘No Hard Feelings’

Listen to the previously unreleased recording featuring Patrick Sansone of Wilco, Jonathan Wilson and Jon Graboff.

By Andy Kahn May 6, 2022 12:13 pm PDT

Neal Casal and Johnny Irion’s previously unreleased song, “No Hard Feelings,” was issued today in honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month. The track features recently added parts provided by Pat Sansone of Wilco, Jonathan Wilson and Jon Graboff.

Irion and Casal worked on the song back in 2011 when Irion was staying at the home of his uncle Thom Steinbeck (son of author John Steinbeck) in Montecito, California. At the end of the writing session, Casal told Irion that he would send him a demo after going surfing. Some two hours later, Irion received a demo recorded by Casal alone on guitar. Sadly, Casal died by suicide in August 2019.

The demo was shelved for several years, until recently when Casal’s former neighbor, engineer JJ Golden, rediscovered it. Golden cleaned up the audio on the original demo and sent it along to Sansone and the multi-instrumentalist suggested they recruit others to flesh out the recording – in the same fashion as The Beatles’ “Free As A Bird.” Wilson was tapped to play drums and Graboff, who performed with Casal in The Cardinals, was asked to play pedal steel guitar. Sansone played bass and added backing vocals.

“I was fortunate enough to have worked with Neal Casal over the last 20 years, whether he was playing guitar on a Sarah Lee & Johnny record or my last solo album or taking photographs,” Johnny Irion said. “Neal always seemed to be everywhere, playing the ideal guitar part or setting up the perfect photograph or sharing an amazing song. ‘No Hard Feelings’ is from a moment in time when I think Neal and I were both in super creative spaces. He had just joined the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and the future was wide open. Only a handful of years later, I was there for the ‘paddle out’ after he passed to celebrate his life on the beach he surfed in Ventura. I still cry for my bud. In his memory, we keep going, we honor and we share this moving performance he left behind.”

Proceeds from the sales of “No Hard Feelings” will go to The Neal Casal Music Foundation, which was posthumously founded to support youth music programs in Casal’s native New Jersey as well as mental health organizations that work with musicians. The Neal Casal Music Foundation selected Sounds of Saving (SoS), “a non-profit founded by Nick Greto and Charlie Gross, with the mission to leverage a connection to music as a direct path to greater mental wellbeing and to hopefulness during crisis in order to decrease suicide, especially for underserved communities” to receive proceeds from “No Hard Feelings.”

Listen to “No Hard Feelings” below:

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