White Mansions? Legend of Jesse James? Hello?

I went all the way down to West Cork yesterday, to see a man about a dog.

This man is a musician, and he played me White Mansions and The Legend of Jesse James, two country concept albums, written by an English songwriter called Paul Kennerly. Clapton and his band play on both albums; as does Bernie Leadon; as do the London Symphony Orchestra. Singers on the two albums include Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, Albert Lee and Johnny Cash. Both albums were produced by Glyn Johns. In 1983, Kennerly married Emmylou.

And I’m like, hello? Country concept albums? Who knew such a thing existed?  He MARRIED Emmylou? Why have I never even heard OF these really rather good albums, never mind actually listened to them? Are not many of my pals country nuts? Do they not spend their lives on he Word blog? Hello, Paul Williams, Dave Rothon, Bob Machin… is there some weird conspiracy going on? Has anyone heard of these things before and just not thought to tell anyone? Did you simply not like them? I think we should be told…

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~ by Ian Marchant on November 11, 2009.

11 Responses to “White Mansions? Legend of Jesse James? Hello?”

  1. Certainly sound interesting, though I’m personally not naturally drawn to albums featuring various members of the rock country ‘aristocracy’… my heart sinks just a little at the sight of Emmylou’s name on the credits and my interest in Clapton will only be renewed if he starts taking skag again and getting hisb Armani-cladb ass into the sort of two ‘n’ eight that led to the Layla album. Sorry, just the way it is…

    Re country concepts though, are we forgetting ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’?

  2. Err… yes. I’ve heard of and heard White Mansions. In fact I bought it for my dad when it came out in whenever it was.. ’76? At the time I was a bit interested in Waylon Jennings and the Outlaw schtick. I recall it was Paul Gambo Gambacinni reviewing it on whatever the Radio Four’s flagship cultural show was at the time. It was hyped a lot. You were probably at a Caravan gig in Brighton that night?
    I think there’s a version of Tennessee Stud? A lot seemed smooth and creditable but not really the kind of album you boasted about likeing at the time. Also it’s awee bit Confederate isn’t it?Country Concept Album? How about Will the Circle Be Unbroken…?

  3. I remembered Will The Circle… as soon as my head hit the pillow last night. And it is a bit confederate. And I agree re. Clapton. It’s just the never having heard of it that scared me… and the idea that there could be a huge slew of country concept albums out there. Did Yes never make a country album, for example?

  4. You’d never heard of Tegucigalpa, either. Be very afraid.

  5. Not Yes, but The The made ‘Hanky Panky’, of course…

  6. I’d not heard of such things. But I did hear Emmylou Harris the other night, thanks to my goshdurn sleeplessness, on that funny radio show that Bill Bryson does.

    Linking one thing to another, I’m now listening to the Incredible String Band doing The Circle Is Unbroken on Youtube. Ha, that’s better!

  7. All day, a half memory has been growing on me. I think I can now remember Paul buying his Dad White Mansions, and him playing it at least once at Pen Llwyn, our shared house near Lampeter. (it came out in ’78, when my Caravan days were long behind me.)
    How the waters of Lethe do lap at the shores of memory, innit?

  8. Somewhere between the things you can’t remember and the things you can’t forget…

  9. I haven’t heard of that stuff. I was talking to man without a dog today. He often says stuff like “give me the Amen Corner anyday”.
    Why, Ian? Why would anyone want to give him the Aman Corner?
    He was once offered the chance to live for six months in East Africa with his sister & her family. He refused because he would the miss the quiz nights at the Hope. Then they stopped the quiz nights at the Hope. Do you remember the Hope? It’s like the Ark but nearer the sea. I think we should be encouraging children to eat more sweets. Especially those coloured with Sunset Yellow. Sunset Yellow’s great. So is benzene.
    Van Der Graaf Generator anyone?

  10. You’re all so last century.
    I mean – have any of them got the X factor?

  11. No, they haven’t – Thank God!
    Have you come across Thomas Fraser, singing “Over The Rainbow”? He was a crofter on Burra, Shetland Islands. That’ll turn your heart over.
    BB

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