DIARY - 27 AUGUST 2008 - LARRY JON WILSON
JON WILSON - THE LOST KEY FITS
got a shoulder poppa told me I might have to carry the world on/ but God
never gave me a shoulder, baby, strong enough to carry your goodbye tearstains
on." - Shoulders - Larry Jon Wilson
to the boomerang career of mystical minstrel and wanderlust troubadour
Larry Jon Wilson.
Larry Jon's aura invaded the Australian progressive country music
scene when he rode in an outlaw posse in the seventies with fellow
literate songwriters Guy Clark and the late Townes Van Zandt.
But his cult status grew legs much later - he gained major exposure
in Australia when the 1975 Heartworn Highways docco was released
here on VHS in the 80s.
Texans Townes and Guy may have enjoyed more success than Larry Jon,
now 67, but he had his own cameo in the docco - just like former convict
David Allan Coe.
It was a
much larger role than frequent Aussie tourists Steve Young - fellow Georgian
- and another Steve - Earle - then a teenager.
But, with re-release of the docco on DVD and an expanded CD in 2006, the
Larry Jon persona grew again.
Now, Wilson has a stage all to himself - a self-titled CD (his first album
in 29 years) - on the indie 1965 label.
Equally importantly there's an invaluable video DVD docco that details
the recording of the album at Perdido Key (the lost Key) that straddles
the border of Florida and Alabama.
On one side of the key is Olde River and the other is white sand and Gulf
Of Mexico where Hurricane Ivan raised hell and razed houses in 2004.
Wilson, born October 7, 1940, in Swainsboro in Emmanuel County, Georgia,
headed south to Perdido to cut his new disc with believers Jeb Loy Nichols,
Jake Housh and Jerry DeCicca in June 2007.
SHARES AND DOW SHARES
advise you to fit your hands to a plough share/ others swear your only
prayer is counting your Dow shares/ which is better, which life is better/
friends come, where from/ and when you watch them come and go you know
you are lucky you left with just one." - Where From - Larry Jon
took place in a swank hotel bar, a Pensacola TV studio and Silver Moon
Café -across the road from the famed Flora-Bama honky tonk roadhouse
that was rebuilt after Ivan decamped.
The latter venues are owned by Joe Gilchrist - songwriter patron and unofficial
mayor of the key.
Wilson recorded 20 songs in the sessions and included 12 on his album.
Five were originals and another was part of Losers Trilogy that also featured
songs penned by Stuart Wright and the late Mickey Newbury.
They were If I Just Knew What To Say, Bless The Losers and his
own Things Ain't What They Used To Be And Probably Never Was.
He also cut the Bob Dylan-Willie Nelson tune Heartland, John Scott
Sherill's Feel Alright Again, Bruce Channel's Rocking With You
and Dave Loggins historic hit Goodbye Eyes.
For good measure he included Whore Trilogy - Louise, Sunset
Woman and Frisco Mabel Joy - by Paul Siebel, Loggins and Mickey
Californian born country comedienne and prolific songwriter Kacey Jones
also released her own Newbury tribute disc in 2005.
That was after she produced Pearls In The Snow - a tribute album
to singing Texan crime novelist and comedian Kinky Friedman.
GEORGIA ON HIS MIND
"When I think about eternity I hate to think about what I might be/
suddenly I turned around and I found me with no you/ I would be a castle
with no towers/ a springtime with no showers/ and a mountain with no view."
- Me With No You - Larry Jon Wilson
was born in Swainsboro but raised in Augusta by dad John Tyler Wilson
and mother Louise Phillips.
He attended high school at Carlisle Military Academy in Bamberg, South
Carolina, before attending University of Georgia, where he majored
Larry's father loved getting him to sing Hank Williams' songs like
Cold, Cold Heart. His fourth grade teacher at Augusta's Monte
Sano Elementary school yearned to hear him yodel.
So when the class studied Switzerland in geography class she kept
having him come back to demonstrate yodelling - even when he was at
Langford Junior High.
He had learned
to yodel listening to his dad's old Jimmie Rodgers' records.
to 1973 he worked in Langley, South Carolina, for United Merchants and
Manufacturers as a technical consultant in fibreglass manufacturing.
Wilson loved music, but, it wasn't until his dad died that he got his
first guitar at the age of 30 and taught himself to play and turned to
Four years later Wilson - by then a husband and sire of three children
- abandoned the world of polymers for his music.
In 1975 his first album, aptly titled New Beginnings, debuted to
It contained the evocative song Bertrand - My Son.
Wilson named his crippled son after his father, a dirt farmer who moved
to the city with misgivings, and Bertrand Russell, both of whom he "knew
ROAD ON HIS MIND
no dancer, girl, but watch me move/ wind to a feather, thats how
I can move with you/ do you have a moment, lay with me/ silence is setting
the stage, Ill put the world at your feet if youll lay with
me. - I Am No Dancer - Larry Jon Wilson
became a singer's singer admired by legends like Willie Nelson, Waylon
Jennings, Dottie West, Kris Kristofferson, Larry Gatlin and Mickey
He performed in the cool nightclubs - Other End in New York City,
Cellar Door near Washington, D.C., Exit/In - Nashville and the Great
Southeast Music Hall in Atlanta.
Other albums with the Monument label of CBS Records followed.
They were Let Me Sing My Song to You (1976), Loose Change
(1977), and The Sojourner (1979).
Wilson played acoustic guitar on Let Me Sing My Song To You.
and Mac Gayden were on electric, Weldon Myrick on dobro, Donnie Lowell
on harmonica, Tommy Cogbill (bass), Howard Bishop (drums) and Bobby Wood
reflect his experiences, and many focus on his southern childhood; one
writer called them "eloquent, elegiac songs of the South."
Wilson developed a devoted following of fans and critics on the touring
circuit and gained the respect of well-known music colleagues.
He was a favourite at the famed Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Bluebird Café was the locale for the Hollywood movie The
Thing Called Love starring the late River Phoenix and Sandra Bullock
and featuring Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Kevin Welch, Dale Watson and
In spite of Wilson's accolades and enthusiastic fans, no "hit"
Wilson left the music world in 1980, disillusioned with its business aspects
and unwilling to compromise his musical integrity for commercial success
city's trying to break me now/ never knew how to take me/ never thought
it would make me want to come home." - Throw My Hands Up - Larry
He returned to the business in the late 1980s when other songwriters encouraged
him to attend the Frank Brown International Songwriter's Festival in Perdido
Key, Florida. He began touring again in 1989 and by 2003 still accepted
occasional engagements. Wilson remains devoted to his music, rather than
to the marketplace.
In 2000 his New Beginnings/Let Me Sing My Song to You albums were
re-released as a CD in Great Britain.
They were chosen as the Re-Issue of the Month for June 2000 by MOJO magazine,
Britain's leading popular-music periodical.
In the summer of 2003, two songs from Wilson's original album appeared
on another British-produced CD entitled Country Got Soul.
Wilson resides in Augusta and continues to write and sing.
Georgia Public Television recognised Larry Jon's talent when they chose
him as host of their series Georgia's Backroads.
The series features several of Larry Jon's original songs including one
- Georgia Backroads - written just for the series.
Wilson and Stephen Stills toured Europe during his career resurrection
with gigs in London and Kent.
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JERRY DECICCA
comes, where from/ the world you never asked for/ holds you hostage until
you turn 21/ your tried to learn by watching the grown-ups/ when you're
growing yourself you wonder why it wasn't all blown up and why it ain't
better." - Where From - Larry Jon Wilson.
Decicca gave an historical insight into the recording of Larry Jon's
new album, released in Australia by Shock Records roots specialists
Ian Bennett and Dave Laing in July, 2008.
Here is Jerry's story.
"In June of 2007, Jeb Loy Nichols, Jake Housh, and I met up
with Larry Jon Wilson in Perdido Key, Florida to do some recording.
Larry Jon knew the area well and when he spoke of it in the months
prior to the session, it sounded fantastic and lush.
The Spanish named the land, meaning "lost key", when it
was founded in the late 1600s.
I'm not sure when Larry Jon found himself there for the first time,
but he knows the area like a native. And though the days I spent
there may not be "lost", they're certainly fuzzy.
the next seven days, Larry Jon recorded about twenty songs.
he told stories about hitch-hiking, hustling pool, being a father, gambling,
drinking, women, and friendships, focusing mostly on those he shared with
Townes Van Zandt and Mickey Newbury.
As Jeb and I poked Larry Jon for stories, Jake was quick enough to roll
tape when the narratives turned to songs.
Larry Jon never gave us any indication when things were about to begin.
He would pick up his guitar, crack open a corner of memory, and play without
concern that it was being captured.
Often times, at the song's end, he seemed surprised by himself, like he
was channelling some feral piece of his past. Many of these songs he wrote,
and the ones he didn't have now been officially Wilson-ised.
Only the song Shoulders was performed twice; the rest of the album
is all first and only takes.
This may not be the best way to make records. There was no order, no schedule,
no plan. But we pushed a microphone in front of a man with a guitar and
now we have a record.
Nobody told Larry Jon what songs to sing (not that it would have mattered
if we did).
Nothing here is showbiz; there's no production, no glitter. And so, these
songs sound like music, like Life with a big "L", like Larry
Jon Wilson and no one else."
LARRY JON WILSON DISCOGRAPHY
Wilson Label: 1965 Released: June 30, 2008
Larry Jon Wilson The Sojourner Label: Monument Released: January 1, 1979
Larry Jon Wilson Loose Change Released: January 1, 1977
Larry Jon Wilson Let Me Sing My Songs Released: January 1, 1976
Larry Jon Wilson New Beginnings Released: January 1, 1975
New Beginnings/Let Me Sing My Song To You - Larry Jon Wilson
Label: See For Miles - Released: March 7, 2000 - 5014661071137
1.: Ohoopee River Bottomland
2.: Through The Eyes Of Little Children
3.: New Beginnings (Russian River Rainbow)
4.: Truth Ain't In You
5.: Canoobhee Revisited (Jesus Man)
6.: Broom Straw Philosophers And Scuppernong Wine
7.: Lay Me Down Again
8.: Melt Not My Igloo
9.: Things Ain't What They Used To Be (And Probably Never Was)
10.: Bertrand My Son
11.: Drowning In The Mainstream
12.: Let Me Sing My Song To You
13.: Sheldon Churchyard
14.: I Remember It Well
15.: Ballad Of Handy Mackey
16.: Think I Feel A Hitchhike Coming On
17.: Willoughby Grove
18.: Life Of A Good Man
19.: Kindred Spirit
20.: Farther Along
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