Remembering Tony Joe White

“I’ve always thought of myself as a blues musician, because the blues is real, and I like to keep it real.”

[caption id="attachment_242318" align="alignnone" width="512"] Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins[/caption] When Tony Joe White died on Wednesday, October 24, he had only weeks earlier sat down for one of his final interviews with American Songwriter about his life and his new album, Bad Mouthin’. Offering this writer a blue Solo cup of tap water and a chair in his small rural Tennessee barn studio, White was approachable, humble, soft-spoken, and exactly what everyone who knew him said he was: completely real. Onstage and off, his mojo, and his genuine, effortlessly-projected sense of cool, couldn’t be faked. Many artists try different types of music, production, even wardrobe, trying to stay relevant and employed. But White was secure in his own skin, regardless of whatever success came with being that way. And when the idea of searching for one’s identity was mentioned, he seemed almost puzzled by the notion of being anyone except who he was. “I’ve never really given that much thought,” he bemusedly drawled while looking at the wall, where a painting of a Gretsch guitar, done by his friend Michael McDonald, was hanging. “Before I go on stage I’ve got butterflies, until I hit the first lick, and then it’s…

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