Mickey Newbury: An American Trilogy (Saint Cecilia Knows/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Mickey Newbury: 33rd of August/When the Baby in My Lady Gets the Blues
Mickey Newbury: An American Trilogy (Saint Cecilia Knows/Southbound)

Not many people know about Texan Mickey Newbury, who died almost a decade ago, age 62. Maybe it's enough Elvis (who made Newbury's medley An American Trilogy a cornerstone of his latter performances) did. And that Mickey's songs were covered by Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez and dozens of others.

Often spoken of in the same sentence as Kris Kristofferson (whose Me and Bobby McGee he passed to Roger Miller, the first to cover it), Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell and Guy Clark (whose careers he also promoted), Newbury was a quiet figure in country music. His literate style told stories but also evoked moods through fascinating imagery. He also didn't shy away from orchestration.

His debut album for Mercury in '69, Looks Like Rain, featured atmospheric sounds like rain, thunder and train whistles. With its weave of integrated songs it sounds closer in conception to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On or Van Morrison's Astral Weeks than anything in country. 33rd of August/When the Baby in My Lady Gets the Blues eases out to nine hypnotic minutes.

Newbury sang like a less booze-battered Kristofferson and although he sometimes had a sentimental streak (putting him close to MOR artists like Bobby Goldsboro) he was in tune with the times. He wrote the trippy Just Dropped in To See What Condition My Condition Was In which Kenny Rogers and the First Edition took to the charts.behind_the_song

A touch of gentle Dylan, and Neil Diamond at his very best, simplicity in the melodies and a vocal ease which seduces by virtue of its warmth and slow delivery.

Nice stuff.

Three of Newbury's late Sixties/early Seventies albums – including that remarkable Looks Like Rain – plus a disc of rarities have been boxed up in An American Trilogy.

It gives you a chance to understand why Will Oldham, Steve Earle (“his voice blows my mind”) and Kristofferson (“I learned more about songwriting from him than any other writer”) are such fans.

Mickey Newbury – waiting to be discovered.

And to do so, you can download a four track sampler from the label's excellent website here

Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

Share It

Your Comments

Peter Huitson - Apr 9, 2013

I have only just "discovered" Michael Newbury and nice to see that he appears in "Elsewhere". I read a review of his music and went onto the Spotify website for a listen. I have always loved "American Trilogy" by Elvis Presley but never realised that Mickey Newbury actually wrote and performed this piece. His version is way more a "back to roots" version and is far more emotional due to its more basic presentation - Mickey's voice is just amazing. I also had a listen to "Shenandoah" which I also like - again, I was blown away by Mickey's version. That was it - I was straight onto the Internet placing an order for a couple of CD's - this guy is well worth a listen - clearly another overlooked gem from the past.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

The Handsome Family: Wilderness (Spunk)

The Handsome Family: Wilderness (Spunk)

Heard from a distance this might sound like more alt.Ameriana folk with one ear on gospel hymns, and sometimes given a colouring of weepy steel guitars and old upright piano. And those ol' country... > Read more

Sean Rowe: Magic (Anti)

Sean Rowe: Magic (Anti)

Because of the nature of his burred baritone -- and these profound and emotionally deep songs -- it would be wrong to say this debut by New York singer-songwriter Rowe is "exciting". That... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Motian/Lovano/Frisell; Time and Time Again (2007)

Motian/Lovano/Frisell; Time and Time Again (2007)

Because jazz is -- as the critic Leonard Feather noted in the closing overs of the last millennium -- the classical music of the 20th century, in it you can hear the human condition reflected.... > Read more

Mette Henriette; Mette Henriette (ECM/Ode)

Mette Henriette; Mette Henriette (ECM/Ode)

This late-twentysomething Norwegian saxophonist announces herself with this impressive double CD debut, which is all the more interesting for the questions it raises. The first disc finds her... > Read more