Jesse Winchester Shows Us How it Should Be Done

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Over the last couple of days, I’ve been inspired by Kate McGarrigle’s passing to go back and touch some milestones in my own musical listening journey, revisiting some things that have moved me and made me, for better or worse, who I am. I spent a lot more of that time than I thought I would listening to Jesse Winchester. Most of what I have of his music is on scratchy old LPs and just looking at those LPs I got hit with a wave from the past, a whiff of those nights when everything anyone said was wisdom for the ages, those warm nights that turned into cold mornings before any of us knew what had happened. Jesse Winchester’s music was perfect for those nights – the unspoken subtext of his exile gave his music an integrity, a moral center that so much else we listened to lacked.

I can’t tack any of those old records on to the end of my post, and even if I could, I’d never be able to bring you all back to what it was like to hear them for the first time. What I do have is a video of Jesse singing on Elvis Costello’s new TV show. The song is Sham-a-Ling-Dong-Ding from the new CD, Love Filling Station. At 3:16 of the video, there’s a shot of Neko Case, with a big tear rolling down her cheek as she listens to Winchester sing. Don’t be surprised if the same thing happens to you.

All of Jesse Winchester’s in print CDs are for sale on his website, along with lyrics to all his recorded songs and a tour schedule. He’s at Mountain Stage on January 31, so if that’s broadcast live where you are, the show starts at 7 P.M. Otherwise check your local listings. Here’s the video. Please enjoy.

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