Hello fellow music lovers and soul seekers. I have been struggling all day to attempt to find the words to say how deeply I was effected by the news of the passing of my friend and soul-brother, Jesse Winchester...It was Emmylou Harris who first insisted that I sit down and listen to the man sing his songs on a cassette while we were recording in L.A. in the early 70's. I have been in his thrall ever since. I've recorded and performed several of his songs over the decades, and he always took the time to contact me to tell me how much he loved my version of, for instance, "He's Alright," "Blow On, Chilly Wind," and most recently, "Freewheeler."
I also got to share the stage with him many times and I hold the memories of those nights very dear to my heart. There was a sold-out co-bill I did with Jesse late last year at the Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis, MD. It was an all too rare pleasure for me to sit with him in the greenroom before the show and just catch up and talk about crazy things in the news and how we can possibly relate to politics and current events and the joy of music and how it all somehow fits together. We spoke about the way we choose to approach certain topics and leave other ones alone. We spoke of the beauty of the spring season in the hills and valleys of Virginia where he lived and where I grew up... and about the raw, primal, organic energy of old-time doo-wop, street corner music and how the acoustic, traditional stuff we came to love is really cut of the same cloth. Songs that need to be written because there is an inner directive that takes over and our job is just to get out of the way and let it be said.
I so deeply appreciate the chances I got to hang out with Jesse. But even more than that, I'm so grateful for the opportunity he gave all of us to visit the environment he gently and invitingly created on stage, no matter the size or shape of the venue; to come into his world of genteel southern charm and dry, incisive wit and stay for a while. The world is a better place having seen the precious colors he painted it with and the soulful intellect he brought to its presentation. I especially loved his unique vision and imagination that flowed into the poetry of his lyrics and the power of the simple melodies and chords that so perfectly elevated those lyrics into the 3-D imagery that was his gift and, in turn, ours. You will be missed, my brother, but the joy of your music will live on forever.