Saturday, April 12, 2014

Singersongwriterobit: Jesse Winchester

Jesse Winchester, Memphis born singer-songwriter, has died.

Winchester crossed the border to dodge the draft, and lived 35 years in Canada. Not going to Vietnam was a doubly-wise idea, because not only did he keep out of the war, but it also led to him making friends with Robbie Robertson. Robertson would go on to produce Winchester's debut album.

On the other hand, being a draft dodger did mean that Winchester was unable to play gigs in America, which probably explains why his name recognition is higher with aficionados than the general public. Added to the awkward border problem, Winchester put raising a family ahead of building an audience, and so only released material spasmodically during the 1980s and 90s.

A career renaissance happened during the latter part of the last decade, including this moment on Elvis Costello's Spectacle series, with Sheryl Crow and Neko Case looking on:

Winchester had been hit with cancer in 2011; a storied tribute album in his honour and a fevered period of songwriting during treatment followed.

Although given the all clear in 2012, the cancer returned and it was this that would eventually take his life. (Not before Twitter had prematurely killed him off a week or so early.)

Jesse Winchester was 69; he died at home on April 11th.

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