From a “Star Spangled Banner” to an “American Trilogy” . .  Happy 4th (and 5th) of July! It wouldn’t be July 4th without hearing Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” . . . and having recently heard an interview with Jimi, he once told Kenny Rogers that “Just Dropped In” was his favorite song. . . The First Edition’s recording of a song by Mickey Newbury was doing okay on the Pop Charts- until they appeared on the Smothers Brothers Show, lip-synced to a psychedelic production, and the song went that era’s (1968) version of “viral.”

And who was the “mechanic” behind the hit? “Outlaw” Country singer-songwriter, Mickey Newbury.

I had just a minimal knowledge of Newbury before researching this strip, knowing that he wrote “Just Dropped In” and was referenced in “Luckenbach, Texas” by Waylon & Willie, with the line “Newbury’s train songs.” And as is so often the case in delving deeper into a subject, you find some amazing talent and an tremendous artist. Mickey Newbury created the concept and arrangement for Elvis’ “American Trilogy”- the soulful blend of a civil war “Northern song” , a Southern Song and a Jamaican slave song. . . that is one for the ages.  The most incredible part of this research into Mickey Newbury was actually hearing him sing and watch him perform, via YouTube.  Below you’ll find Mickey’s soulful, bluesy version of “Just Dropped In” and a live performance of “American Trilogy.”  There is also a live version of “Just Dropped In” by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. . . and if you have some time, treat yourself to a few other performances by Mickey on YouTube, you won’t regret it.

But first, here’s a bit of Mickey’s 2002 Obituary by Dave Laing from: The Guardian :

The best-known composition of American songwriter and singer Mickey Newbury, who has died aged 62, is An American Trilogy, with which Elvis Presley frequently closed his concerts. But Newbury wrote more than 500 other songs, and with such colleagues as Kris Kristofferson and Tom T Hall brought a more literate and thoughtful dimension to country music in the 1960s. On hearing of Newbury’s death, Kristofferson said: “When he got it just right, simple lyrics and simple melodies worked in a way to break your heart.”He was born in Houston, Texas, one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. His parents were country music fans from farming families, but as a teenager he absorbed the sounds of rhythm & blues, and Mexican music, too. He performed and recorded with a vocal group, the Embers, which toured with black artists, often as the only white act on the bill. At 18, Newbury joined the US air force, spending three years at RAF Croughton in Oxfordshire. Weekend leave was spent at parties in London, an experience Newbury was to draw on for his song Swiss Cottage Place.He turned decisively to songwriting after leaving the service in 1963. Following a spell on the shrimp boats of south-east Texas, he moved to Nashville to try to sell his songs. There he met Kristofferson, another would-be writer, who became a life-long friend. Newbury’s work caught the ear of the doyen of Nashville music publishers, Wesley Rose. Consequently, the country star Don Gibson made the first recording of a Newbury song.With its languorous melody and melancholic lyrics, Funny, Familiar, Forgotten Feelings set the pattern for much of Newbury’s oeuvre. Commenting on the sad tone of many of his songs, he once said: “Music has never been anything but an escape from depression for me. I write my sadness. I call it robbing the dragon.”Read the rest here:



From Mickey’s Website: Mickey Newbury is a songwriter most famous for a song he arranged, but did not write. One night in Los Angeles, at a time of national distress over war and race issues in the U.S.A., Newbury spontaneously combined a southern anthem (written by a northerner, D.D. Emmett), a northern anthem (written by a southerner, William Steffe), and a third song that was originally a Jamaican slave song (All My Sorrows). In the audience that night were many celebrities, Odetta, Kristofferson and Streisand among them. The trio of songs brought tears to Odetta’s eyes. It came to be called An American Trilogy, and would be adopted by Elvis Presley as the centerpiece of his later concerts. This clip is an extra from LIVE AT THE HERMITAGE, the new Mickey Newbury DVD, and features Marie Rhines on violin. The clip is uploaded with the permission of the Newbury family, and the DVD is available in the cd store at:

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | reddit | LinkedIn