My first opportunity to contribute to the ‘Classic Clips’ feature finds me returning to the same artist that was the subject matter for my first, ‘Classic Americana Album’ article back in March of this year, the wonderful Jesse Winchester. Championed by the royalty of the American singer-songwriter scene from the time his debut eponymous album appeared in 1970, Bob Dylan to Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt to Emmylou Harris were all keen to exult in the talents of this draft dodging native of Tennessee.
Upon his election in 1976 Jimmy Carter declared he would grant amnesty to draft evaders except those who had deserted or become a citizen of another country by which time Winchester had already established himself as a recording artist with four albums under his belt and become a Canadian citizen. It took the persuasive skills of Winchester’s manager at the time, Barry Bozeman, to convince Carter to extend the amnesty’s parameters and thus allow him to return and tour his home country for the first time since he fled in 1967. His first appearance in the U.S. was a sold out performance in Burlington, Vermont on April 21st 1977, and on June 10th he would appear alongside Little Feat, Emmylou Harris, and Bonnie Raitt on ‘The Midnight Special’, which was an American late night music show originally broadcast on NBC created and produced by Burt Sugarman. During the show Winchester would perform the self-penned numbers, ‘Rhumba Man’, as well as an acapella version of, ‘You Can’t Stand Up Alone’, where both Harris and Raitt joined him on stage and is well worth checking out.
However the, ‘Classic Clip’, I have chosen is the one that first introduced me to the magic of Winchester. Like so many of us of a certain vintage, ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ was pivotal in exposing us to a broader musical palette and feeding our need to constantly expand our knowledge -Bob, we will forever be in your debt. It was here, back in 1976 that I first became aware of Winchester’s music and would shortly after have his album proudly in my ever increasing collection, along side the likes of Dylan, Van Morrison and Neil Young, as well as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and Yes. Hey, it was the seventies, what can I say. Anyway, if Jesse Winchester’s name is still new to you I hope this clip might encourage you to check out for yourself one of the finest singer-songwriters of all time.