David Olney: The Long Cut

“Music, when I saw how it could make you feel, there wasn’t any going over to the other side.”

Photo by John Partipilo

An up-and-coming performing artist may talk about how committed he or she is to handling the rigors of the musician’s life, to endless days of driving, to playing to empty rooms, to working even when sick and/or tired or just sick and tired of being sick and tired. But if they want to know how the life really works, they need to talk to David Olney.

The Rhode Island native pulled into Nashville in 1973 with professional songwriting dreams, and has since spent the past four decades or so on the road, sometimes alone, sometimes with varying numbers of accompanists. The advent of the term “Americana” gave the genre-bending Olney a place to call home, though he probably wasn’t looking for one. Record deals have come and gone and publishing deals haven’t panned out. At 69, he has no plans of slowing down, still playing about 100 nights a year all over the world.

“One of the things about playing music is that I like my job,” Olney says, doffing his trademark fedora and proceeding to stir cream into an iced coffee at the Family Wash, an East Nashville restaurant and live music venue. “It’s not all that common. Maybe one person out of 10 can say that. Like my parents’ generation, my dad tolerated his job because he was raising a family. You could put up with just about anything for eight hours for the sake of that. But that wasn’t the way I was. Music, when I saw how it could make you feel, there wasn’t any going over to the other side.”

Olney’s latest album, Don’t Try To Fight It, was recorded in Toronto, Canada with producer... Sign In to Keep Reading

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