Jesse Winchester: Jesse Winchester
Jesse Winchester first gained notice as a protege of the Band's Robbie
Robertson, who produced and played guitar on his debut
album and brought along bandmate Levon Helm to play drums and mandolin. The album had much of the rustic Southern charm and
rollicking country-rock of the Band. Winchester's other immediate appeal was a certain sense of mystery. A Southern American
expatriate living in Canada, he was unable to appear in the U.S. to promote the album, which was released in a fold-out LP jacket
that featured the same sepia-toned portrait (which looked like one of those austere Matthew Brady photos from the Civil War era)
on each of its four sides. Winchester emphasized the dichotomy between his southern origins and his northern exile in songs like
"Snow" (which Robertson co-wrote), "The Brand New Tennessee Waltz" ("I've a sadness too sad to be true"), and "Yankee Lady."
Jesse Winchester was timely: It spoke to a disaffected American generation that sympathized with Winchester's pacifism. But it was
also timeless: The songs revealed a powerful writing talent (recognized by the numerous artists who covered them), and Winchester's
gentle vocals made a wonderful vehicle for delivering them. (Originally released by Ampex in 1970, Jesse Winchester was reissued by
Bearsville Records in 1976 and again in 1988 by Rhino/ Bearsville).
In his book, Levon Helm mentions that he also did some work on Jesse Winchester's second album, although no members of the Band are credited on that one. The liner notes to the second Winchester CD mention that another "second" album was completely recorded, but not released. This may explain what Levon Helm worked on.
The entire Jesse Winchester album was included on the 2000 2-CD release Anthology/ Jesse Winchester.
Tracks(all songs by Jesse Winchester, except track 3)
Jesse Winchester - Jesse Winchester - 1970 - Ampex A-10104
AMG Rating: 7 (out of 9)