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

Neko Case: The Worse Things Get . . . (Anti)

Neko Case: The Worse Things Get . . . (Anti)

This album's full title – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You – barely hints at the emotional depth, anger, passion and soul-baring on... > Read more

Jerry Lee Lewis: Mean Old Man (Verve Forecast)

Jerry Lee Lewis: Mean Old Man (Verve Forecast)

In a You Tube comment someone said Jerry Lee looked a little rough for someone only 74 years old. In his defense -- he's actually 75 now -- they were pretty full years, especially in the late... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Blue Oyster Cult; The Best Of Blue Oyster Cult

THE BARGAIN BUY: Blue Oyster Cult; The Best Of Blue Oyster Cult

There are some bands and artists which are an obsession for some and go right by others. Recently I met a guy who had everything that Todd Rundgren had ever done and I felt slightly ashamed that I... > Read more

GUEST ARTIST HANNA ISAAC opens her personal sketchbook

GUEST ARTIST HANNA ISAAC opens her personal sketchbook

[Editor's note: When Elsewhere reviewed the album Fight from the Inside by Into the East (here), we noted the delicate cover art and that lead to this invitation to the artist Hanna Isaac... > Read more