FreeWheelin' Music Safari

Today in Music – 1944 – Happy Birthday, Jesse Winchester!

Jesse Winchester“Have you talked to Jesse Winchester? You can’t talk about
the best songwriters and not include him.” ~ Bob Dylan

Way back in the early 70s my then girlfriend told me I had to listen to this new singer-songwriter that she loved Jesse Winchester. She particularly loved the song “Yankee Lady”. I listened she was right and through the years I’ve become the bigger fan! Today we celebrate Jesse’s 69th birthday! It is a birthday that last year fans were afraid he would not celebrate, because he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. He had to cancel his tours and undergo treatment for the next couple of months. But he has been given the all clear from his doctor and has restarted touring! For those of you unfamilar with Jesse. Here’s the obligatory biographical information from Wikipedia:

Jesse Winchester (born James Ridout Winchester; May 17, 1944) is an American musician and songwriter who was born and raised in the southern United States. To avoid the Vietnam War draft he moved to Canada in 1967, which is where and when he began his career as a solo artist. His highest charting recordings were of his own tunes, “Yankee Lady” in 1970 and “Say What” in 1981. He became a Canadian citizen in 1973, gained amnesty in the U.S. in 1977 and resettled there in 2002.[1]

Winchester is probably most well known as a songwriter, with his works being recorded by many notable artists, including Patti Page, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Buffett, Joan Baez, Anne Murray, Reba McEntire, The Everly Brothers and Emmylou Harris.[2][3] A number of these recordings have had success on various charts.[4] Continue Reading

Back in 2010 Tom Russell wrote this post on his blog The Lion In Winter and wrote this about Jesse’s music:

..last week, my friend Alec delivered a link to a video of Jesse Winchester singing a song on Elvis Costello’s TV show. It’s a heartfelt saga of teenage love, rendered by a true master; with sincerity and quiet passion. We tend to forget about Jesse, but there he was. Telling me again why in hell we’re in this game. Cutting to the heart of the matter. Right near the end of the song the camera slides over to Neko Case; sitting next to Jesse on stage –and a tear rolls down her cheek. Do I have have to say more? That’s it. That’s why we’re here. In this age when we’re drowning in the worthless bilge water of tired celebrity – like who cares if Willie Nelson duets with Norah Jones, or Bono sings with Springsteen? It’s a ragged dress rehearsal of a celebrity circus that carries no original, gutsy spark. It’s all rote; a Starbucks CD sitting next to the Sugar Cookies. Then Jesse Winchester nails it. One to the heart and head; that tear rolls down Neko’s cheek. What songs are supposed to do…

Yes it is, and when I listen to Jesse, I am moved, maybe back to his hometown in Mississippi – where “I think I see a wagon rutted road, with the weeds growin’ tall between the tracks” or to Club Manhattan, where I can hear a young Steve Crooper and it’s 1963, I can find love and lose love, but I will always feel and live the songs he writes! So Happy Birthday, Jesse and I hope there’s many more birthdays and songs to come!!

Here’s a post I found when I was researching this post it has some nice quotes from Jesse: Jesse Winchester- More Than Just a Showman 

Here’s the song that Tom Russell wrote about in his post!