Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Missed 2014 Necrology: Jesse Winchester

When Jesse Winchester passed away in April 11, 2014, I didn’t get an opportunity to make a post concerning his passing. In our second week special on missed necrology from 2014, I’m finally getting around to posting a tribute. Winchester died in Charlottesville, Virginia 36 days before his 70th birthday.

One year after graduating from Williams College, Winchester received his draft notice and immediately fled to Canada where he stayed until receiving amnesty from President Jimmy Carter. Since leaving the US in 1967, he was not able to perform in the states until 1977 out of fear of arrest. His first stateside concert after gaining amnesty was in Vermont where he performed to sell out crowd.

Winchester never had as great a commercial success in the US as he did in Canada. This can largely be attributed to him not being able to support his releases with live performances on this side of the border. His biggest record in the US was “Say What” from his 1981 “Talk Memphis” LP. Nationally, the single charged at #32 and I had an opportunity to play it on the air. As a thank-you, Bearsville Records sent me a baseball style “Talk Memphis” tour jacket in 1981.

Unfortunately, I’m not featuring “Say What,” but a cut from his debut album. While his first release on Ampex Record in 1970 earned critical acclaim, it was a commercial failure in the US. The initial single, “Yankee Lady,” failed to chart in the US, but peaked at #20 on the Canadian pop chart and was a bigger adult contemporary hit at #8.

“Yankee Lady” was produced by Robbie Robertson of The Band who played guitar on the cut. He was joined by Levon Helm, a fellow member of The Band, who provided a nice mandolin track. Helm also played drums on the album, but since two other drummers are also credit, I am not sure which one appeared on “Yankee Lady.” Oh yeah, Todd Rundgren was the recording engineer as well. This is nice stuff from 1970.


  1. "This side of the boarder"?? Surely that should be "border".

    1. Thanks - wrote it late in the evening without any caffeine support.