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Mickey Newbury - "THE TRIUMPHANT SORROW OF MICKEY NEWBURY" - RICH BUCKLAND'S EPIPHANY NOTEBOOK -"She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye" - Live On The Johnny Cash Show, March 17, 1971

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“THE TRIUMPHANT SORROW OF MICKEY NEWBURY” - RICH BUCKLAND’S EPIPHANY NOTEBOOK The poignancy of Mickey Newbury is embedded in our musical culture but yet he can easily be found in the directory of “most forgotten songwriting brilliance” of our time. In 1968 Mickey had 4 Top 5 Billboard recordings charting simultaneously in 4 different melodic styles. “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” #5 on the Pop/Rock chart by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition; “Sweet Memories” #1 on Easy Listening by Andy Williams; “Time is a Thief” #1 on the R&B chart by Solomon Burke; and “Here Comes the Rain Baby” #1 on the Country chart by Eddy Arnold. This accomplishment has never been replicated. As a vocalist he defied convention. His delivery flowed like a gentle river but beneath the surface a poetic anguish ran disturbingly deep. On his second album he recorded his most honored piece, “An American Trilogy”, made universally beloved by Elvis Presley. This work is a medley of three exemplary tunes: “Dixie”, a minstrel song written by Daniel Decatur Emmett that became the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy since the Civil War; “All My Trials”, originally a Bahamian lullaby, but connected to African American spirituals and identifiable through folk music revivalists; plus “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” the Union marching song of the Civil War. These songs were banned in many Southern States. Newbury desired to perform this work as a protest against censorship.

His recordings failed to sell well due to the expansive musical vocabulary he embraced. Mickey was comfortable in all schools of song but the public could not classify his art and his significance remained a secret. Then in 1975, as Outlaw Country took root, Waylon Jennings wrote and recorded the iconic “Lukenbach, Texas”. It contained the line “Between Hank Williams’ pain songs, Newbury’s train songs and Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”. Newbury had an emphatic response to this tribute. “It’s just categorizing again, making a new pigeon-hole to stick somebody into. You got to be dressed a certain way, you got to be a drinker and a hell-raiser, cuss and make an ass of yourself, act like a kid. I’ve told ‘em I quit playing cowboys when I grew up. I just get turned off by all that”. No one owned Mickey Newbury. And so it would go for this rebel poet until the end. In 2002, the year of his passing due to emphysema, Newbury released “A Long Road Home”. Although it has been hailed as a monument, most are still unaware that this intense, luminous gentleman wrote for a range of legends including Bill Monroe, Ray Charles,Tammy Wynette, B.B King and Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash to name but a few. In 1971, Johnny Cash directed his spotlight upon Mr. Newbury on his network television show. This performance of the exquisite “She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye” embodies the eternal ache of genius that plagued this artist for an entire career. Mickey Newbury was the perfection we receive when a compassionate insurgent refuses to be confined. He was the definition of transcendence.


By Rich Buckland 10/13/2019 07:09 PM

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