Mickey Newbury’s Songwriting Legacy – Elmore Magazine
Looks Like Rain: The Songwriting Legacy of Mickey Newbury
Brian T. Atkinson has invited 73 of Mickey Newbury’s closest friends and associates to pay tribute to the Texas native. People like Larry Gatlin, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, and Kris Kristofferson took the time to write about the man they admired and shaped their songwriting skills. While one or two of these people would have offered a view of Newbury that not everyone has had the privilege of seeing, when you put the 73 of them together you get a better sense of the man and man. the music he loved.
Newbury liked to write songs for the sake of writing songs, not because some big star was recording next week and he had to write a song to present to her. When he came in to record, he knew exactly what the song would look like when it was finished. He was famous for putting rain or maybe train whistles between songs on an album because he thought it had to be there.
He had the voice of an angel, but he was a hesitant artist, never wanting to tour arenas or stadiums because there was no privacy there for him. When he agreed to perform, no one wanted to follow him, he was so good. I remember one night Newbury, Guy Clark, and a few other writers were on a Writers’ Tour in Nashville. Guy Clark didn’t want to follow Mickey, so he asked to be the first. Mickey went last, which prompted Clark to follow him, no matter how hard he tried not to find himself in that position.
This book is an excellent overview of Newbury in all facets of his life: songwriting, recording artist, guitarist, performer and family man. It is a real gem for anyone who is Newbury fan or for those who want to remember why they love to write songs.
I have had the chance to interview him several times and it was always a pleasure to chat with him. One day he told me about writing the night before and casually mentioned that it was with a bunch of aliens. It seemed such a statement of fact that I never questioned him about it.
In this book, Kristofferson comments: “Maybe he was a visitor from outer space.” I just smiled when I read this statement. Who knows, Kris? Maybe he was.
– Vernell Hackett