Happy Halloween! I’ve just released “The Cruel Mother”, a Child Ballad from the 17th century which has been sung myriad times since, with varying melodies, lyrics and even with different titles (The Greenwood Side, Greenwood Sidey, etc.) . It’s a ghost story – most certainly meant as a cautionary tale for unwed mothers. Barry Walsh and recorded it live at home in separate rooms, with no eye contact, so the performance was based entirely on sensing each other’s movements with no strict time in place. We later added David Henry on cello, and the track was originally released as a bonus track for fans who ordered my Blackbirds album on presale.
I wanted to release it now for the Halloween season, a dark song for these dark times – but as always, I find there’s beauty in the darkness if you look for it. You can find it on all digital platforms now. The video is also available on YouTube.
I hope you enjoy it – stay well.
I talked with Brandon Harrington recently for his podcast, Surviving The Music Industry. We had a wide (really wide!) ranging chat and you can listen to the whole thing wherever you get your favorite podcasts. Or click on the link below.
Daughter of a screen and Civil-Rights writer and housewife Gretchen Peters fully admits to having a childhood like the AMC hit MADMEN, automatically should set the pace to living an internal artist life like songwriting. A sudden life shift brought Gretchen to Boulder, Colorado, and thus began a love of country, Mickey Newbury, jam bands, and the freaks and misfits alike. In conversation, Gretchen shares the truth behind Martina McBride’s, “Independence Day,” and the inspirations behind the major characters from her biggest songs. The threads that make a Peters song, and what got her songs cut during a pivotal moment for women in country music.
It’s important to pause and consider this album for what it really is – an homage to Mickey Newbury, a songwriter who shaped Gretchen Peters’ own lyrical scope, for sure, but also an album where Peters, a gifted songwriter in her own right, offers, above all else, respect. The Songs Of Mickey Newbury isn’t a collection of hit records, and by honoring a songwriter who acted as a storyteller first and foremost, Peters honors the lyric and understands the characters here better than anyone before, save for Newbury himself.
It’s hard not to see the parallels between the two songwriters – both are observational poets who question themselves and the world around them, yet never quite come to any comfortable conclusions, because real life doesn’t always work that way. They serve blunt honesty meant to inspire, question and act accordingly, all while sprinkling in some lighthearted humor along the way, even if it’s of a drier variety.
To read this review in its entirety, visit Country Universe.
Many thanks and much love to the folks at The Alternate Root, who have included The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury in their Top Albums So Far in 2020 list. The coronavirus has not stopped a lot of great music from being released this year; I’m proud to be included on this list. Check out all the albums at The Alternate Root.
On August 20th at 9pm UK time (3pm Central US time) I’ll be joined by Barry Walsh for an online show hosted by our friends at Destination Country. You can buy tickets here. We hope to see lots of you there!
I had the pleasure of talking with fellow songwriter Chris Lindsey of the Pitch List podcast recently. We talked about songwriting, Nashville, and of course, Mickey Newbury. From Pitch List:
Based in Nashville, TN, songwriter Chris Lindsey (Every Time I Hear That Song” / Blake Shelton, “Poison and Wine” / The Civil Wars) has set out to discover what makes creative people tick. Starting with what he knows – writing – and branching out to various aspects of the music industry, Pitch List explores what it means to be a songwriter, and ultimately, a person. Join us as we talk with some of music’s hit writers at the top of our Pitch List.
You can listen to our conversation at Pitch List Podcast.
The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury appears at the top of the UK Official Country Albums Chart this week. I’m so proud and thrilled that this little record has found so many fans and it makes me especially happy to know that a lot of them are discovering Mickey Newbury’s music for the first time. Big love to everyone at Proper Records for going above and beyond, in extremely trying circumstances! And my sincere thanks to everyone who bought a copy. You are what keeps us going.
Folk Radio UK (FRUK) has posted a review of The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury. An excerpt:
…a suitably twangsome cover of the train time boogie Why You Been Gone So Long with (Barry) Walsh on a Jerry Lee piano break and he and Kim Richey on backing vocals. From that same album comes another downbeat story-song, about building bridges, not walls, Heaven Help The Child, which, with its understated arrangement, pedal steel and strings utterly eclipse the overblown original. A tribute to Newbury’s work has been long overdue, you could ask for no finer one than this.
To read the review in its entirety, visit Folk Radio UK.
I’m thrilled to announce that The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury is the #1 song on the Folk Chart this month! I’m so grateful to all the folk DJs for playing the album and making this possible. Mickey Newbury’s music has been a big source of inspiration to me since I was a teenager, and this album was a labor of love, a long time coming.
To see the entire May 2020 Folk Chart, visit FolkRadio.org.
I spoke to Geoffrey Himes for The Nashville Scene recently about Mickey Newbury and The Night You Wrote That Song. An excerpt:
Peters wasn’t interested in copying Newbury’s original arrangements. Those versions are still out there for anyone who wants to find them. Just by bringing a female voice to songs that were mostly recorded by men, she alters them. She further refines them by applying the stripped-down arrangements and lucid enunciation of her own records. She even swaps some verses around, relieved to learn from Newbury’s longtime guitarist Jack Williams that Newbury did the same thing all the time — even after the song had been recorded. Newbury was a relentless tinkerer, so Peters would be too.
You can read the article in its entirety at The Nashville Scene.
I recently spoke to Bernard Zuel about The Night You Wrote That Song, Mickey Newbury, songwriting, and more. An excerpt:
“Another thing was the mystery that he left in his lyrics,” she says. “There was always something that was not fully said, and I think that was a huge lesson for me. I don’t think I could have even told you that I was learning at the time, but I definitely internalised that is something that I wanted to accomplish in my writing. In much the same way the Leonard Cohen does: there is a veil beyond which you can’t see I think that’s why I find both of their songs so compelling.”
You can see the truth of this through all of Peters’ career, the ability to give us detail that illuminates but does not overwhelm the characters or the story. She leaves space in the songs for us to read in or project or imagine.
To read the interview in its entirety, visit BernardZuel.net.
Pop Matters recently premiered the video for “The Sailor”, and reviewed The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury as part of a feature interview on the album. An excerpt:
Peters’ collection of Newbury songs, though, is the record that Newbury lovers could have only dreamed of. Eschewing standard notions of making an album celebrating the songs of a beloved artist, she followed her heart and her ear. “One of the first things I threw out the window was the idea that I was going to record things that were recognizable,” she says. “That ruled out so many wonderful songs. By the same token, I didn’t rule out doing some of the songs that were hits. I said, ‘Let’s throw chart history right out the window and let’s go purely on songs.’ The only other criteria became, ‘Do I think I can tell this story effectively? Can I bring this across?’ It really becomes not dissimilar from choosing songs for your own record.”
To read the review and interview, and watch the video, visit Pop Matters.
Off The Record has reviewed The Night You Wrote That Song; here’s an excerpt:
Peters has wholly brought herself and her own sonic landscape to this record. It is masterstroke, taking a true artist to pay in equal part homage to her hero, but also completely bringing herself and her inner psyche to the reinvention of these songs. This is a stellar accomplishment.
To read the review in its entirety, visit Off The Record.