R.I.P. Jesse Winchester, A Songwriter Admired By Bob Dylan And Many More

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Jesse_Winchester_Smile_JazzFest_2011
Singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester passed away Friday morning, after a long fight with cancer. Winchester, who was born in Louisiana and moved to Montreal in 1967 when facing the impending Vietnam war draft, was revered by countless songwriters and musicians, despite never achieving widespread commercial fame.

Many of Winchester’s songs, which include standards like “Mississippi You’re On My Mind,” “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz,” and “A Showman’s Life” have been covered by the likes of Jerry Jeff Walker, the Everly Brothers, and Elvis Costello. “You can’t talk about the best songwriters and not include him,” Bob Dylan once said of Winchester.

“In my heart, I’m still trying to write hit records,” Winchester said in a 2009 interview. “But the idea all along for me has been to do what my heroes did — which was to write and record great singles that everybody liked to hear on the radio and dance to and fall in love to. That’s always been the idea.”

In 2012, Mail Boat Records released Quiet About It, a tribute album to Winchester featuring artists  Costello, James Taylor, Jimmy Buffett, Lucinda Williams, Rosanne Cash. It’s available here.

 

 

12 COMMENTS

  1. RIP. Although we’ve lost yet another gift to music, we still will always remember and be able to hear and dance and fall in love to his songs like he aspired to happen. That can never die, thank you for the music.

  2. I saw his first concert back in the states after the Carter amnesty for Vietnam era draft resisters. It was kind of funny, this very small venue in Burlington, Vt., with TV cameras all over the place to report on the event. Still, it was a very good concert. He was a good performer as well as an excellent writer, and gave us a good show. A man of his talent will certainly be missed.

  3. saw him perform many times in and around Montreal and spoke to him one time in Norm Silver’s “Moustache” (Montreal bar on Closse street).

    when the Rolling Thunder Review came to town, I remember Joan Baez dedicating a song to him…

    btw, the Viet Nam war resulted in a lot of talented Americans coming to Canada, many of whom stayed even after being granted amnesty.

    thanks for the music Jesse

  4. Jesse Winchester wrote songs that touched your heart. He had an elegance that brought a warm smile whenever you heard one of his songs. We had the pleasure of hearing him play live on a number of occasions, but the best was at the Rubin Museum in NYC two years ago where he played totally unamplified. What a privilege!

  5. Jesse and I shared band members in Montreal back in the mid-70s. He was always a gracious, smiling, modest man. Impossible not to like him. And, yes, he was a songwriter’s songwriter.

    God speed, my friend. We’re all on your brilliant heels.

  6. I had the pleasure of opening up for him with a good friend Fred Simmons. We got a chance to talk with him for a while during sound check. One thing besides his music that stayed with me and I still use was the capo he turned me on to called a Shubb. Great capo and thanks for that Jesse… I wave bye bye.
    Lynn E. Brown
    Guitar slinger
    Chico, Ca.

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