Jack Williams writes about David Olney
Hello Herve - and everybody,
I'm with you, Herve. David Olney is one of the greatest songwriters alive, in my opinion. His being darker and more "unpolished" than most performers seems to put a few people off - but not for long. In the concert series I ran in Augusta, Georgia for four years, I had David play in a songwriters' round with Larry Jon Wilson and myself. We had done a small tour together and had come to enjoy our stark differences in style. Larry Jon was most reknown as a writer in the late 60's and 70's, and is the best poet and songwriter to ever come out of Georgia (another opinion). Just listening to him talk all night is like hanging out with William Faulkner. His songs are poignant, sumptuous and very much rooted in his Southern-American heritage.
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Our audience was familiar with their native son, Larry Jon, and were very familiar with my music. But that strange, dark, "scowling" guy in the third chair struck some people as out of place. Larry Jon would start a round with his ultra-deep voice and warm Southern manner. Then I would play one of my songs. The audience was extremely appreciative. But they held their breath when the "scowling" new guy's turn came up. After a few rounds, and after hearing "Jerusalem Tomorrow", "The Road That General Lee Took", and "If It Wasn't For The Wind", they were dumbstruck by the power of David Olney's poetry and delivery. Anyone unfamiliar with this great writer's work would do well to give it a listen. David's a good friend, but what I write here doesn't spring from that bias. I loved his music years before I met him. And if anyone foolishly requires commercial "credentials" before giving the "scowling guy" a chance, check out recordings of David's songs by Linda Ronstadt and Emmy Lou Harris. He's one of the best.
One other observation about David: When he plays a show in Nashville (where he lives), at the Bluebird, Douglas Corner, or wherever, the writers come in droves, pen and paper in hand. But most of them being far lesser talents, usually go home empty-handed, because their goal - being in that industry town - is to have songs recorded by the stars, and David DOES NOT WRITE FOR THE STARS! He writes for himself and in a way that would normally be UNACCEPTABLE to the recording industry. But the "stars" have heard his songs and can't resist them... and record them - Linda Ronstadt, Emmy Lou Harris, in spite of their being so non-formulaic. The would-be wealthy songwriters find utter fascination with David and his work and yet don't know how to "make use" of what they learn from him. That's simply because one can't aspire to genius.
Thanks, Herve, for mentioning David!
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