The 9th Annual Mickey Newbury Gathering of Porch Rockers (I just made that up) will be held in Gainesville, Texas June 18th-21st. Come join us for good food, good friends, and lots of music. For more information about registration, please check out the Gathering page on the Back Porch.
We have joined the digital age! Beginning in April, digital downloads of the CDs from the boxset will be available in the Music Store. We will start with Looks Like Rain, and will add the others over time. Album downloads will start at $10.00 each, and you will receive a link to download once you purchase.
Mickey was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage, Texas on August 16. His mother, Mamie, wife, Susan, son, Chris, and daughter, Laura were in attendance to accept the award, which is on display at the Hall of Fame, along with some other items and photographs. As someone who was Texan through and through, this is an exciting honor for Mickey, and we are grateful to the Lonestar State for their recognition of his contribution to the genre.
Mickey Newbury Receives 2006 President’s Award
The Americana Music Association has selected Mickey Newbury as this
year’s recipient of the President's Award. Past honorees have
included John Hartford, Gram Parsons and the Carter Family. Given
in posthumous recognition of outstanding musical achievement, the
winner is chosen by the AMA President, a post currently held by Tamara
Mickey’s mother, Mamie, was on hand September 22 at Ryman Auditorium
in Nashville to receive the prestigious award. Singer Kacey Jones
then performed Newbury’s “Lie To Me Darlin,” a song
that also appears on her highly acclaimed Newbury tribute album.
Mickey Newbury’s songs have been recorded by hundreds of artists;
over 1,000 covers have been documented. Though he considered himself
a songwriter first and singer second, Mickey recorded 25 albums over
35 years. Some of his albums are considered masterpieces.
In 1968, Mickey saw huge success… three number one songs
and one number five – across four different charts: Just
Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) on the
Pop/Rock chart by the First Edition, SweetMemories on
Easy Listening by Andy Williams, Time is a Thief on the R&B
chart by Solomon Burke, and Here Comes the Rain Baby on the
Country chart by Eddy Arnold. This feat has not been repeated.
His arrangement of “An American Trilogy,” made
famous by Elvis Presley, is a great slice of Americana . Consisting
of “Dixie” slowed to a quarter-time ballad (I wish
I was in the land of cotton), “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (Glory
glory hallelujah) and “All My Trials" (So hush
little baby / Don’t you cry / You know your daddy’s bound
to die), the “Trilogy” bonds minority, Southern and
Northern issues into a common lament. The song, Brian Hinton wrote,
has become “the ultimate example of Americana. It somehow evokes
the birth of modern America.” Actually, the movement has grown.
The prayer-song has become a staple in the repertoire of church groups
and male voice choirs the world over.
Many of his peers consider him to be the best of the best. Kris Kristofferson
says, “God, I learned more about songwriting from Mickey than
I did any other single human being. To me he was a songbird. He comes
out with amazing words and music... I’m sure that I never would
have written Bobby McGee, Sunday Morning Coming Down...
if I had never known Mickey. He was my hero and still is.”
Mickey’s love was the music, not the business, and he actively
campaigned for recognition of Americana music as early as the 1970s,
when he tried to bring attention to Stephen Foster’s work. Among
Mickey’s peers, he was always seen as a champion of the songwriter.
In June of this year, with gratitude to all of those who have run
Mountain Retreat, the organization was moved to Oregon, and Mickey’s
family is taking care of business. It’s taken a little while
to smooth things out, but work is continuing on a number of projects.
Bob Rosemurgy and Owsley Mannier are finishing the DVD, and have
promised it will be ready in January of 2005. This will be a compilation
of images from the Hermitage concert and historical photos of Mickey’s
life. The DVD/video will feature Mickey and Jack Williams in concert
in 1994, plus some selections with Marie Rhines, photos and special
surprises. The color is stunning, the audio spectacular, and this
will be a one-of-a-kind, "must have" release for Mickey's
Joe Ziemer’s book, Crystal and Stone, and Ron Lyon’s
audio biography, An American Treasure, are available in the CD Store.
We are also offering a great tribute album by Cowboy Johnson. Anyone
who has tried to sing Mickey’s songs knows how difficult it
is to make the songs their own. Cowboy has done that with incredible
feeling in Grain of Sand, and brought many people into the circle
of Newbury fans because of his performance.
The illustration of Little Blue Robin is getting wonderful treatment
from Ted Cheavens. Ted’s incredible talent has brought the
birds to life, and you will love the way the story unfolds. Although
we had hoped it would be ready for Christmas, we need to release
the DVD first, and it should be in printing by the spring of 2005.
Everything takes longer than anticipated.
The family is spending a lot of time going through reels of tapes
and master sessions that keep appearing from as far back as 1965.
There is a great deal of material that hasn’t made its way
to release, and Chris is taking the time to review all of those
tapes. It looks as though there may be a CD or two left to offer
Chris is working on a guitar book of Mickey’s songs that
will explain tunings and methods of playing. Mickey didn’t
always play by musical rules, and lots of fans would like to know
how he played particular pieces. This will be a limited, leather-bound
edition, and should be available after Little Blue Robin is released.
The CD, Blue To This Day was released, including Little Blue Robin,
Tildie, The Two Step Goes On, Mississippi Moon, Help Me Son and
more. Premier producer, Paula Wolak, and master of the mastering,
Michael McDonald had CD out by the summer. It is a great addition
to Mickey's recorded work and musical legacy.
Mickey Newbury passed away at his home in Springfield, Oregon on
September 29 after a lengthy illness. Mickey was recognized as one
of America's finest songwriter-performers, and his songs have been
recorded by hundreds of other artists, including Elvis Presley,
Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings
and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Mickey was born in 1940 in Houston, Texas. While in high school,
he formed a vocal group, The Embers, which performed throughout
Texas in the mid-1960's. In 1959, after graduating from high school,
Mickey joined the Air Force. He spent three years as an air traffic
controller, serving most of that time in England. Upon his discharge
in 1963, he returned to Texas where he wrote and performed songs
in local clubs.
His songs came to the attention of Wesley Rose of Acuff-Rose Music
in Nashville, who summoned him to Nashville in 1964. Mickey quickly
became one of the premiere songwriters in Nashville, and in the
1960's had #1 hits in Pop, Country, Rhythm & Blues and Easy
Listening charts. In 1970 Mickey did a live arrangement of American
Trilogy while performing at the Bitter End West, and that song has
since become a standard in the repertoire of many performing artists.
It was probably the last song Elvis performed in concert, and has
been recorded by over 100 different artists.
After numerous releases on major labels, in 1996 Mickey formed
his own music production and distribution company, Mountain Retreat.
Since then, all of Mickey's earlier catalogue has been released
in the CD format, including his earlier albums, which were released
as part of the 8 CD box set, The Mickey Newbury Collection. Mickey
continued to write and perform new songs, which have been released
on Stories From the Silver Moon Cafe (2000), and A Long Road Home
(2001). Mickey's current release is entitled Winter Winds (2002).
He established an Internet website at www.mickeynewbury.com where
his many friends gather to discuss music and life on the "chat"
Mickey was one of the most respected songwriters, both for his
artistic skill and integrity. He is a member of the Songwriters'
Hall of Fame. His accumulated work has been described as one of
the most remarkable catalogs of music any American artist has assembled
in this century, "...a body of work for which he deserves to
be remembered and revered." (Peter Blackstock in No Depression,
March-April, 1999) Mickey's passing is a great loss to his family,
many friends and to music.
The release of Mickey's autobiographical masterpiece, A Long Road
Home, brought 2001 to a dramatic conclusion. What an eventful year
it was, with the digital remastering of the box set, The Mickey
Newbury Collection, and continuing work on projects.
The first of these was the revision of Disc #1 in the 2 CD set,
It Might As Well Be The Moon. Originally issued in 1988 as In A
New Age, we issued it in the 2 CD format in 1999, combining the
original in a revised form with additional instrumentation and a
masterful concert performance from San Francisco's Great American
Music Hall. Mickey's vision for the original CD was unmet by the
revision, so we started over and added additional bass accompaniment
to the two tracks performed by Edgar Meyer. The result was magnificent,
and this remarkable one take "live" studio recording is
an essential Newbury recording.
On February 26, Mountain Retreat released another essential Newbury
recording. Titled Winter Winds, this is also a one take "live"
recording produced in a studio format with accompaniment by Jack
Williams (guitar), John Catchings (cello), Craig Nelson (bass) and
a few other excellent musicians. Originally released in a live concert
setting as Nights When I Am Sane, the entire recording has been
remixed and reworked into a dark, intimate production of many of
Mickey's classics, such as Angeline, Ramblin' Blues, Poison Red
Berries, Just Dropped In, San Francisco Mabel Joy, 33rd Of August,
Nights When I Am Sane, Genevieve, Jubal Lee's Revival, and more.
This will surely take its place among Mickey's finest recordings.
Mickey also started working with his engineer-producer, Paula Wolak,
on another CD, Blue To This Day, which featured many of Mickey's
new compositions, including Little Blue Robin, The Two Step Goes
On, Tildie, Help Me Son, Mississippi Moon, and others.
Sit a spell on the Front Porch and chat with Mickey's friends about
music, life, and whatever takes wing. We appreciate all the support
and help we've received over the years since starting to produce
and distribute Mickey's music, and we wish you health, happiness
and, in the words of one of the Porch regulars, "pleasant listening."