Jesse Winchester Has Died
My dear old friend, Jesse Winchester, has died; gone to that far side bank of Jordan. Such a songwriter. Jesse, in person, was a lot like his music, – sweet, observant, slightly weary, with the poet’s intentional melancholia.
I knew Jesse’s music for a decade before our paths crossed. Eventually, I produced a number of concerts and festivals (FolkTree) that Jesse was part of. In fact, the very first Boston concert that I produced, starred Jesse Winchester, and that, dear reader, was not a random choice on my part. My respect for him runs so very deep and I greatly mourn his passing.
We shared the South, and later the North, a fact about which was interesting to both of us and we invariably talked about it whenever we were together. I will always love his lyric “Me, I want to live with my feet in Dixie, and my head in the cool, blue North.” Though he was born in Louisiana, he was Memphis through and through, and damn proud of it, at least it seemed so to me.
If I had to pick three of my favorite Jesse Winchester songs, at least tonight, I would cue up Yankee Lady, Brand New Tennessee Waltz, and Mississippi You’re On My Mind.
But I choose to honor his memory here, with his cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.”
To quote you, Jesse, on the occasion of your passing, I am comforted by your lyrics “Oh Jesse, look over yonder, the birds are southward bound.” I will listen to your music all of my life. Your songs are part of me and my generation.
So, Godspeed, old friend. –
Harry Lipson, in Boston