I’d love to tell you that I know a lot about Larry Jon Wilson, who died Monday at 69 from a stroke, but truth is I only know him through the bits of his music that have passed under my nose over the years, and from his appearance in the documentary. There isn’t a lot to be known about Wilson, because for nearly 30 years of his life, he wanted it that way.Larry Jon Wilson is the textbook definition of a “Forgotten Outlaw.” His golden era is filled with songs and albums that are as entertaining and influential as anyone’s.
Forgotten or not, Wilson was the complete package. He had the moxy and the taste for soul of Waylon Jennings. He had the songwriting, poetic prowess of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark.
He had deep, deep pipes that made Johnny Cash sound like a pre-pubescent. And he was a hell of a guitar player.
Mix it all together and Larry Jon Wilson was an American original, whose due we can only hope will come posthumously, and whose legend deserves to eternally grow.And he was an Outlaw plain and simple, maybe more so than most:“Some people have used the ‘Outlaw’ tag effectively for a career move, but I don’t think ‘career move’ has ever entered my thinking. When I was in Nashville, we did the streets an awful long time, and we weren’t exactly holding prayer meetings. I loved my drinking days I’m not ashamed of any of it.”Born in Georgia, Wilson put out four relatively obscure, but critically acclaimed and loyally adored albums between 1975 and 1979 on the Monument imprint of CBS Records: New Beginnings (1975), Let Me Sing My Song to You (1976), Loose Change (1977), and The Sojourner (1979). If you find one of these albums in any format, buy it. They are as rare and highly sought after.In 1980, Larry left the music business disillusioned after no real commercial success of any sort. His music just didn’t fit in any marketable scene. It was country, but with soulful, funky influences.
Wilson’s music maybe was not influential to the outside world, but in the 70’s country Outlaw scene he was an artist the artists listened to. After 1980 he slipped into obscurity, doing voice-over work to pay the bills. Just last year he came out of the shadows to release which was beginning to spark new interest in his body of work.Larry was also a champion of the very rare, but very coveted by true audiofiles.Larry Jon Wilson is one of the reasons savingcountrymusic.com exists, to make sure singular talents like this are not forgotten, and that our generation of talent doesn’t slip into obscurity like so many greats before.
Do yourself a favor, skip on over to YouTube, ask around for his albums, and discover this artist. He’s one of those type of artists who you might say “name sound familiar,” but when you’re sat down and really exposed to him, all of a sudden a whole new world of music is opened up to you.You can read a brief biography of him by, and a story on his death.You can also read an amazing interview with him by Stephen M.
Deusner.From Heartworn Highways:My favorite Larry Jon Wilson song. Oh man, I didn’t know he died. That’s sad news.I, too, first heard of him via Heartworn Highways and have his first three LPs on my ipod ever since I had that little thing (still haven’t heard his ‘comeback’ album, though, but only read good reviews. Sun tv serial actress name. I’m glad he got to make that one.)I really appreciate these features like the one you did on Willis Alan Ramsey. There are so many great talents that are not necessarily household names, like Richard Dobson, Bill Callery, Steve Young, etc.
And whose records are so hard to find, be it vinyl, CD or even digital. The Heartworn Highways DVD and Lyle Lovett’s Step Inside This House did a great job of introducing some of these musicians to relatively young guys like me (1982).
And just one more thing:If you dug Heartworn Highways, do yourself a favor and buy the excellent soundtrack CD from Shout Factory. It’s worth it and one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. A nicely done package, linernotes, songs that were cut-off in the film now complete, etc. I miss some songs from the film, but the CD is 80 min long and really just the best, concentrating on the folky country stuff. There are some of the best performances by Guy Clark, LJW, Steve Earle, DAC, Rodney, TVZ on one single CD.
Step Inside This House Chords
A must have if there ever was one.
Now I LIKE the Big Band stuff he does and I like the Small Band stuff he does but here with the wondrous John Hagan on cello (a true favourite) and on bass with Viktor Krauss this is simply lovely.This being '99 it is a set supporting the release of that year's album 'Step Inside This House' Lyle's double album of Texan cover songs and none the worse for that.and the other day (did I mention?) Midnight Cafe posted the most staggering quality set from earlier in the nineties so for this too so we have been spoiled somewhat these past weeks. Lyle LovettWestwood One Presents Show #89-26For broadcast the week of June 19, 1989The Roxy, West Hollywood, CA01. Westwood One Presents #89-26 Intro - Jim Duncan02. This Old Porch04. Give Back My Heart05. Commercial - Phillips 66 Gasoline06. Dominoes Pizza07.
Commercial - Dramamine08. If I Had a Boat09. If I Were The Man You Wanted10. Commercial - Nestea12. Commercial - Dramamine13. Commercial - American Express - Karl Malden14. She's No Lady16.
Lyle Lovett Step Inside This House Girl Live
Commercial - One A Day Vitamins17. Commercial - American Express - Karl Malden18. Commercial - Dramamine19. Cowboy Man20. She's Hot To Go21. Commercial - American Express - Karl Malden22.
Commercial - Dominoes Pizza23. Commercial - Sears24. Stand By Your Man26. Westwood One Presents #89-26 Outro - Jim DuncanThis was likely recorded in March of 1989.