One of our great singer/songwriters left us too soon a few weeks ago, Jesse Winchester. I discovered his music in 1971 through my fanatical The Band love and bought his first album solely because it was produced by Robbie Robertson.
I was hooked, his gentle voice and graceful playing sold me. Also his Southern heritage struck a chord in me. Note: I know it’s hard to believe but Northern Virginia not too long ago was Southern in its ways and patterns, good or bad.
He never had the mass appeal, and I never found anyone who was a fan enough to ruminate with about his new work or his past catalog. I am happy my wife loves his smooth voice because she heard it often through the years.
I was lucky to see him perform once, he sat sideways on a stool, guitar in hand and for two hours took the audience by the hand and guided them through the fields of Mississippi and the caverns of the heart.
If I could have the world see just one Jesse Winchester performance, it would be the one below. It is from an Elvis Costello songwriter TV show, Jesse sings his beautiful and longing Sham-A-Ling-Ding-Dong and slays the audience and brings a tear to Neko Case’s cheek…. mine, too.