There are performers who remain so rock solid, who’ve been around for so long, that it’s easy to take them and their gifts for granted.
I was and am a big Jesse Winchester fan. There’s not a lot that’s flashy about Jesse Winchester. The language that he uses in his songs is straight forward…there isn’t a lot of clever wordplay or strange situations…it’s just simple songs about simple things that he turns into art.
Jesse left for Canada during the Vietnam war. He released his first album in 1970, three years after arriving in Canada, and had some chart success with a few of his songs, most notably “Yankee Lady”. For a number of years, he wasn’t allowed to travel back into the States because of his “dodger status”. He lived in Montreal during this time. When Carter pardoned the draft dodgers in 1977 he was able to come back to the United States, eventually moving to Virginia in the early 2000’s.
In 2011, he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, but after treatment he was able to resume touring.
Those of us who like music…those who listen enough for it to become like a soundtrack to whatever’s happening to us at the time…those of us who do that….have a catalog of sorts in our spirits. All this music that we’ve soaked up becomes embedded somehow…deeper than a cellular level…as much a part of us as anything connected to us.
Listening to some of Jesse Winchester’s music on YouTube, it hits me hard that even though I haven’t actively listened to any of his music for a while (it’s all on vinyl…and I’m afraid to set up my turntable with a three-year old in the house) I know it like I’d heard it all yesterday.
We have the option of filling our lives with so much that has genuine value that it crowds out all the petty and coarse things that go on around us.
Jesse Winchester is a good element to add to our arsenals. This is music that’s good for the soul…simple and true.