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Mickey Newbury - An American Trilogy

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An American Trilogy

Mickey Newbury

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Langue disponible : anglais

During his lifetime, Mickey Newbury was always regarded more as a songwriter than as a singer or recording artist. Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Linda Ronstadt, Charlie Rich, Tammy Wynette, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Joan Baez all recorded his songs. That said, Saint Cecilia Knows (the Newbury estate's label) and Drag City are seeking to change that impression with An American Trilogy. It's a deluxe, limited-edition, four-disc box set collects the albums Looks Like Rain (1969), 'Frisco Mabel Joy (1971), Heaven Help the Child (1973), and a disc of rarities; it contains a poster lyric sheet/map and a 100-page booklet, with Newbury quotes, interviews, and more. The albums, whose tapes were thought lost in a fire, have been pristinely remastered. Looking back, it was a small miracle that Elektra let Newbury make these records at all. Through his shrewdness as a negotiator and his track record as a songwriter, he convinced the label to allow him to make three conceptually linked records. The sound on them is like nothing in country music before or since: they are full of sound effects, spatial ambiences and melodrama, delivered with subtlety and a novelist's attention to detail. The music merged minimal country tropes with Texas songwriter storytelling and Southern gospel, and employed contemporary folk and pop arrangements. Looks Like Rain reveals Newbury’s writing range and production savvy. The sound effects (such as an incessant rain falling throughout) and delicate psychedelic embellishments etch the record in its time, but there is so much silence surrounding "She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye," "33rd of August," and "San Francisco Mabel Joy" that they stun with quiet intensity. Newbury's grainy tenor and elegant phrasing keep the album from descending into desperation. On 'Frisco Mabel Joy, the studio becomes more of a musical instrument. It opens with Newbury's "An American Trilogy" which contains the Civil War-era songs "Dixie," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and "All My Trials." Elvis may have (over)blown it as a theatrical patriot's anthem, but Newbury's version is restrained and elegiac; as if the promise and hope expressed in those songs has been lost -- or even erased -- along history's way. It introduces the rest of the album, where rain continues to fall, women continue to depart, and problems mount; the characters in these songs question life metaphorically and literally. In lieu of the opener, it's easy to hear "How I Love Them Old Songs" and "The Future's Not What It Used to Be" are insightful questions to a nation at large. The instrumental interludes, and the depth of emotion in "'Frisco Depo" and "How Many Times (Must the Piper Be Paid for His Song)," are devastating personal narratives. Heaven Help the Child is a progression; it feels more more like a Jimmy Webb record than anything else. Its pop arrangements are more pronounced, but the songs, whether historical tales (the title track, which takes place in 1912) and "Cortelia Clark," broken love songs ("Sweet Memories" and "Good Morning Dear"), or even the lone redemptive paean to romance ("Song for Susan" -- Newbury's wife), lose none of their power. The re-recording of "San Francisco Mabel Joy" that closes the disc underscores the personal vision of the songwriter who inhabits each song on these three albums. The rarities disc is just that. It contains demos, unreleased tracks, and a radio performance, and is well worth inclusion. What Newbury displayed on these records was an American life, whose experiences crossed race, class, and even historical boundaries. The set is an essential document that places Newbury in the pantheon of singer/songwriters where he has always belonged.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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An American Trilogy

Mickey Newbury

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1
Write a Song a Song / Angeline
00:07:12

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

2
She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye
00:03:59

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

3
I Don't Think Much About Her No More
00:05:47

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

4
T. Total Tommy
00:04:08

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

5
33rd of August / When the Baby in My Lady Gets the Blues
00:09:07

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

6
San Francisco Mable Joy
00:06:48

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

7
Looks Like Baby's Gone
00:04:29

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

DISQUE 2

1
An American Trilogy
00:04:54

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

2
How Many Times (Must the Piper Be Paid for His Song)
00:05:54

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

3
Interlude
00:01:33

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

4
The Future's Not What It Used to Be
00:04:31

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

5
Mobile Blue
00:03:16

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

6
Frisco Depot
00:03:45

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

7
You're Not My Same Sweet Baby, Pt. 1
00:03:51

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

8
Interlude
00:01:06

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

9
Remember the Good
00:03:01

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

10
Swiss Cottage Place
00:03:12

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

11
How I Love Them Old Songs, Pt. 1
00:03:50

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

DISQUE 3

1
Heaven Help the Child
00:05:16

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

2
Good Morning Dear, Pt. 1
00:05:17

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

3
Sunshine, Pt. 1
00:04:26

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

4
Sweet Memories
00:03:31

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

5
Why You Been Gone So Long, Pt. 1
00:03:29

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

6
Cortelia Clark
00:05:11

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

7
Song for Susan
00:04:31

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

8
San Francisco Mabel Joy
00:05:32

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

DISQUE 4

1
If You Want Me To, I’ll Go
00:03:39

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

2
Sunshine, Pt. 2
00:03:03

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

3
Sad Satin Rhyme
00:03:16

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

4
Why You Been Gone So Long, Pt. 2
00:03:20

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

5
I Don’t Wanna Rock, Pt. 1
00:01:59

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

6
Let Me Stay Awhile
00:02:29

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

7
Flower Man
00:04:14

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

8
Good Morning Dear, Pt. 2
00:02:14

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

9
On Top Of Old Smokey
00:03:30

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

10
Interlude: How Many Times (Must The Piper Be Paid For His Song) For His Song)
00:02:03

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

11
Better Days
00:03:22

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

12
How I Love Them Old Songs, Pt. 2
00:02:10

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

13
I Don’t Wanna Rock, Pt. 2
00:02:29

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

14
I Don't Want Me No Big City Woman
00:02:08

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

15
You're Not My Same Sweet Baby, Pt. 2
00:04:51

Mickey Newbury, MainArtist

Saint Cecilia Knows Saint Cecilia Knows

Descriptif de l'album

During his lifetime, Mickey Newbury was always regarded more as a songwriter than as a singer or recording artist. Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Linda Ronstadt, Charlie Rich, Tammy Wynette, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Joan Baez all recorded his songs. That said, Saint Cecilia Knows (the Newbury estate's label) and Drag City are seeking to change that impression with An American Trilogy. It's a deluxe, limited-edition, four-disc box set collects the albums Looks Like Rain (1969), 'Frisco Mabel Joy (1971), Heaven Help the Child (1973), and a disc of rarities; it contains a poster lyric sheet/map and a 100-page booklet, with Newbury quotes, interviews, and more. The albums, whose tapes were thought lost in a fire, have been pristinely remastered. Looking back, it was a small miracle that Elektra let Newbury make these records at all. Through his shrewdness as a negotiator and his track record as a songwriter, he convinced the label to allow him to make three conceptually linked records. The sound on them is like nothing in country music before or since: they are full of sound effects, spatial ambiences and melodrama, delivered with subtlety and a novelist's attention to detail. The music merged minimal country tropes with Texas songwriter storytelling and Southern gospel, and employed contemporary folk and pop arrangements. Looks Like Rain reveals Newbury’s writing range and production savvy. The sound effects (such as an incessant rain falling throughout) and delicate psychedelic embellishments etch the record in its time, but there is so much silence surrounding "She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye," "33rd of August," and "San Francisco Mabel Joy" that they stun with quiet intensity. Newbury's grainy tenor and elegant phrasing keep the album from descending into desperation. On 'Frisco Mabel Joy, the studio becomes more of a musical instrument. It opens with Newbury's "An American Trilogy" which contains the Civil War-era songs "Dixie," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and "All My Trials." Elvis may have (over)blown it as a theatrical patriot's anthem, but Newbury's version is restrained and elegiac; as if the promise and hope expressed in those songs has been lost -- or even erased -- along history's way. It introduces the rest of the album, where rain continues to fall, women continue to depart, and problems mount; the characters in these songs question life metaphorically and literally. In lieu of the opener, it's easy to hear "How I Love Them Old Songs" and "The Future's Not What It Used to Be" are insightful questions to a nation at large. The instrumental interludes, and the depth of emotion in "'Frisco Depo" and "How Many Times (Must the Piper Be Paid for His Song)," are devastating personal narratives. Heaven Help the Child is a progression; it feels more more like a Jimmy Webb record than anything else. Its pop arrangements are more pronounced, but the songs, whether historical tales (the title track, which takes place in 1912) and "Cortelia Clark," broken love songs ("Sweet Memories" and "Good Morning Dear"), or even the lone redemptive paean to romance ("Song for Susan" -- Newbury's wife), lose none of their power. The re-recording of "San Francisco Mabel Joy" that closes the disc underscores the personal vision of the songwriter who inhabits each song on these three albums. The rarities disc is just that. It contains demos, unreleased tracks, and a radio performance, and is well worth inclusion. What Newbury displayed on these records was an American life, whose experiences crossed race, class, and even historical boundaries. The set is an essential document that places Newbury in the pantheon of singer/songwriters where he has always belonged.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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