A few words today about a great artist who passed last week, Jesse Winchester.  This comes right off the top of my head - no research has gone into this entry.  There are plenty of obituaries available online where you can look into Jesse's considerable contributions via his songwriting and recording career...

This is more about a tribute to "the little guy" in music.  Not that Jesse Winchester's talent should be minimalized or marginalized.  He wrote as many great songs as almost anyone, even though many of them were relatively unknown.  But the likes of Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, and The Everly Brothers, among many others, recorded his songs.  That's quite enough, thank you very much. But Jesse also put out a lot of records and did his share of performing over his 69 years on this earth.

He was quoted awhile back as saying, when he took stock of his career, "the only thing that made me any money was my songwriting."  His records didn't sell enough, and as he said, performing live and touring was "too much aggravation." 

Ah, what musician can't relate to that on some level?  God bless the bands and artists who manage to deal with the logistics of all that goes into putting on live performances.  Travel, food and lodging, sound and stage issues....it can quickly get overwhelming.  Many of us choose to tour as infrequently as possible, even though the romance of the road is a strong call.

But Jesse, when all was said and done, was a songwriter first.  I did see him live, in Seattle, back in the 70's, and remember a bouncy, animated little guy (I had expected a big, brooding, sort of introspective man, I suppose).  He played both guitar and piano, and as some have described it, his voice was pure honey.  Loved him.  But in the end, he managed to live off the royalties of some of his great songs.  "Yankee Lady," "Mississippi You're On My Mind," and "Defying Gravity" were among my favorite Jesse Winchester compositions. There were many other great ones, though.

So, it's so long, Jesse.  Another one taken away from us too early. Shoot, I heard that Richie Havens died last week, too, at 72.  They're dropping too quickly too often these days, folks.  Love 'em while you still have 'em.  Keep the music playing---

Jim Hudak            Clayton, CA

 

 

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Jim Hudak

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