“Mickey Newbury's commitment to the power of song is imperative to me”
“One of the best singers I have ever heard in any kind of music… his voice blows my mind” —Steve Earle
"I learned more about songwriting from him than any other writer”
“Mickey Newbury is a poet”
Imagine the artistry of Hank Williams, the voice of Roy Orbison and the intensity and intimacy of Townes Van Zandt all combined in one man—that’s Mickey Newbury. The name may not be familiar but the songs, the performers they are associated with and the feelings they evoke, surely will be: ‘An American Trilogy’ (Elvis Presley), ‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)’ (Kenny Rogers and the First Edition), ‘She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye’ (Jerry Lee Lewis), ‘Funny, Familiar, Forgotten Feelings’ (Tom Jones)—just a few of the timeless compositions in the Newbury catalogue.
As the ultimate songwriter’s songwriter and the unsung hero of American popular music, Mickey Newbury’s influence is immeasurable. His early success as a songwriter in Nashville and his selfless and relentless championing of others paved the way for Kris Kristofferson, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and David Allen Coe. Joanna Newsom has cited the inspiration of Mickey Newbury (alongside Kris Kristofferson and Sandy Denny) as a songwriter with “the ability to compose a lyrical line that is so perfect, so distilled and clean and pure”.
Newbury songs have, to date, been recorded over 1300 times by more than 1000 performers including Johnny Cash, Scott Walker, Ray Charles, Joan Baez, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, the Box Tops, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Nick Cave. He is the only songwriter ever to have number one hits (with different songs) in the pop, country, R&B and easy listening charts within the space of one year (three of those songs were in the charts simultaneously). But Mickey Newbury himself was by far the best interpreter of his own songs. Between 1969 through to his death in 2002, he recorded and released 20 albums that have been described as “one of the most brilliantly original and important bodies of work of any contemporary popular artist”.
Recorded between 1969 and 1973 at a home studio in Madison, Tennessee, called Cinderella Sound—in reality, a converted 2-car garage adjacent to the house of guitarist and engineer Wayne Moss—the albums that constitute An American Trilogy are regarded as key works in Mickey’s canon as a recording artist. He was backed on these records by Area Code 615, a group that included the cream of Nashville studio musicians—Charlie McCoy, Norbert Putnam, Jerry Kennedy, Kenneth Buttrey, Weldon Myrick and Wayne Moss—much the same crew who had just backed Bob Dylan on Blonde on Blonde, John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline.
A visionary album in the vein of Love’s Forever Changes and Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, Looks Like Rain immerses the listener into a vividly-painted emotional landscape of heartbreak, madness and despair tracked by the sound of wind chimes and rain. Mickey followed this masterpiece with another, 1970’s ‘Frisco Mabel Joy. Here he broadened the palette, incorporating the sound of the Nashphilharmonic, an ‘orchestra’ consisting of electric and steel guitars, to produce what Mojo described as “an hallucinatory suite of sad, soulful songs”. The cycle of Cinderella Sound albums ended in 1973 with a third epic, Heaven Help The Child, by which time Mickey’s increasing confidence in the studio was clear.
Mickey himself thought of these albums as one piece—conceptually, thematically, musically and lyrically. “[They] all tie together in my head,” he said. “Some of the songs refer to the same situation, just looking at it from a four-year difference in time." And Peter Blackstock, the editor of No Depression magazine, has said of these records: “There may be no more fully realized cyclical trinity of albums in American popular music.” Once you’ve heard them you’ll understand why. Grammy winning engineer Steve Rosenthal and mastering engineer Jessica Thompson restored the original analog master tapes and created stunning new remasters of each album specifically for this release, the first ever CD issue of these landmark albums using the original tapes. An American Trilogy provides a rich and compelling introduction to Mickey Newbury, one of the most extraordinary and unique artists in American popular music.
AN AMERICAN TRILOGY (CEC001R) – 4-CD box set in gatefold digisleeve with 24-page booklet. Includes the albums Looks Like Rain, Frisco Mabel Joy, Heaven Help The Child and an additional CD of demos and rarities, entitled Better Days. All albums remastered from the original tapes.
LOOKS LIKE RAIN (DC-474) – Audiophile vinyl edition of Mickey Newbury's landmark 1969 album, Looks Like Rain, remastered from the original tapes. Old school tip-on Stoughton jacket on heavyweight board. Features the songs "She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye" (as recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis), "I Don't Think Much About Her No More" (Johnny Cash), "33rd of August" (David Allen Coe) and "San Francisco Mabel Joy" (Kenny Rogers).
'FRISCO MABEL JOY (DC-475) – Audiophile vinyl edition of Mickey Newbury's astonishing 1971 album, 'Frisco Mabel Joy, newly-remastered from the master tapes. Original vinyl packaging reproduced right down to the die-cut jacket and inner sleeve. Features the songs, "An American Trilogy" (as recorded by Elvis Presley), "Frisco Depot" (Scott Walker, Waylon Jennings) and "Remember the Good" (Roy Orbison).
HEAVEN HELP THE CHILD (DC-476) – Audiophile vinyl edition of Mickey Newbury's compelling 1973 album, Heaven Help The Child, newly-remastered from the master tapes. Original vinyl packaging reproduced right down to the die-cut jacket and inner sleeve. Features the songs "Sunshine" (as recorded by Ray Charles, Scott Walker), "Sweet Memories" (Etta James, Willie Nelson), "Good Morning Dear" (Roy Orbison) and "Why You Been Gone So Long" (Kenny Rogers, The Box Tops).
BETTER DAYS (DC-476) – Audiophile vinyl of a co compilation of demos, rarities and unreleased tracks from Mickey Newbury. Old school tip-on Stoughton jacket on heavyweight board. Features alternate versions of songs and featured on Looks Like Rain, 'Frisco Mabel Joy and Heaven Help The Child, home demos of Newbury songs not available elsewhere, and an acoustic radio session recorded for the Skip Weshner Show in 1971.
HEAVEN HELP THE CHILD 7-INCH (CEC001S) – Split 7-inch single in deluxe chipboard sleeve, containing the title track of Mickey Newbury's album, Heaven Help The Child, backed with a cover version by Bill Callahan exclusive to this release.
AN AMERICAN TRILOGY (CEC001) – Limited Edition 4-CD box set in heavyweight card box, constructed with rivets, and letterpress foil print. Comes with 96-page booklet, fold-out poster and lyric sheet and CDs in individual chipboard wallets. Includes the albums Looks Like Rain, Frisco Mabel Joy, Heaven Help The Child and an additional CD of demos and rarities, entitled Better Days. All albums remastered from the original tapes.