April 12, 2014 – 9:11 am

Jesse Winchester, whose “blend of folk, blues and country… embodies the spirit of American music,” died on April 11, 2014. He was 69 and had been battling cancer. His manager, Keith Case, told NPR that Winchester died Friday morning in Charlottesville, VA, where he lived.

NPR Music also noted the following: “Winchester ranks among the elite group of singer-songwriters who can captivate an audience with just his words, his voice and an acoustic guitar. The musician is revered by everyone from James Taylor and Lyle Lovett to Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris. Winchester even famously brought a tear to Neko Case’s eye after performing ‘Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding’ on Elvis Costello’s Spectacle program, which he also performs in this set.”

Winchester’s career was dramatically affected by his decision to leave the US rather than face the draft during the Vietnam War. As World Cafe has written: “Winchester was on track for a successful performing career, but his status as a Vietnam War draft-evader prevented him from touring and gaining a footing in the US. He opted to move north to Montreal in 1967, and developed a strong Canadian following while touring there. Winchester released seven albums in the 1970s and early ’80s, culminating with the Top 40 hit ‘Say What’ in 1981.”

Winchester, like hundreds of thousands of other anti-war protesters who left the country or otherwise avoided the draft, was able to return to the US after President Carter granted them unconditional pardons on his first day in office - Jan. 21, 1977.

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Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

Northampton 1982 [no label, 1CD]

Live at the Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA (early show); October 12, 1982. Very good mono soundboard.

Thanks to kneesfudd for sharing the tracks at Dime.

kneesfudd’s notes:

EXC quality master mono SBD.
Warts: He yells right in mike for a split second about three times (lowered). Tapeflip after #11. #17 has a bit of distortion from playing real hard.
This is the complete early show (the late show was not taped from the board).

Recording Information:
mono soundboard > unknown cassette recorder > master mono Maxell XLII-S 90 cassette, Dolby B on.

Click here for detailed notes.

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Please Do Not Hammer The Links. Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. The tracks should still be around. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Track 01. introduction 0:35 (993k)
Track 02. Let It Slide 4:45 (8.0MB)
Track 03. Talk Memphis 3:29 (5.9MB)
Track 04. The Head’s Lament 4:00 (6.7MB)
Track 05. Bowling Green 4:23 (7.4MB)
Track 06. Seems Like Only Yesterday 2:25 (4.1MB)
Track 07. Little Glass Of Wine 4:19 (7.2MB)
Track 08. Nothing But A Breeze 3:50 (6.4MB)
Track 09. Everybody Knows But Me 3:33 (6.0MB)
Track 10. It Takes A Young Girl 2:58 (5.0MB)
Track 11. Yankee Lady 6:22 (10.7MB)
Track 12. Let The Rough Side Drag 2:08 (3.6MB)
Track 13. Don’t I Make You Laugh? 3:50 (6.5MB)
Track 14. The Brand New Tennesee Waltz 3:54 (6.5MB)
Track 15. Rhumba Man 6:53 (11.6MB)
Track 16. The Twelfth Rose 2:43 (4.6MB)
Track 17. Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used To? 1:39 (2.8MB)
62 mins

Click here to order Jesse Winchester releases, or as the late singer-songwriter would say, “where you can exchange your cumbersome money for priceless, practically weightless music”.

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  1. 15 Responses to “JESSE WINCHESTER (R.I.P. 1944-2014)”

  2. Never heard of him. He did the right thing by fleeing the draft, though. Stupid pointless war (we have the democrats Kennedy and Johnson to thank for that)…. It went on for most of my friggin’ life. I take my hat off to him, wherever he is today.

    By Aaron Lloyd on Apr 12, 2014

  3. Oh this is a shock.
    I am so saddened to hear this awful news. Jesse Winchester meant a great deal to me and his ‘Third Down 110 to go’ from ‘72 meant a great deal to me too. I bought it when it came out over here and as seminal albums go and affect us it was a beaut. ‘Isn’t That So’ and ‘Dangerous Fun’ and ‘Defying Gravity’ a favourite especially when finding others cover it too (it was used in a TV film with Tommy Lee Jones called ‘The Executioner’s Song’ where he played Gary Gilmore and it was used over the credits at the end which I found most affecting sung by the legendary Waylon Jennings and it took me an age to find it by him but my understanding is that it’s a Jesse original) . . . . .sorry rambling here but going to put some Jesse on the jukebox and mourn his passing. Thanks Big O for this
    Sad day
    I for one will miss him

    By swappers on Apr 12, 2014


    JFK took a decision to leave Vietnam. He didnĀ“t decide to leave office.

    By Kint on Apr 12, 2014

  5. Don’t tell me, fool. I was there. JFK is the mo-fo who got us in there really tight to begin with. It was HE, who after a disastrous meeting with the Russian leader Khrushchev, decided to establish “American credibility” (his words) by sending the first huge waves of actual combat troops there. And then the ball was rolling. No chance to stop until “peace with honor” was achieved. You got that…?

    By Aaron Lloyd on Apr 12, 2014

  6. Just spotted the bad news; excellent performer and writer. Sad.
    And what’s all this politics? Kennedy told Cronkite on the first CBS News that he knew that he couldn’t get involved in Vietnam.

    By hfs radio fan on Apr 13, 2014

  7. For you history buffs, our “involvement” with Viet Nam began immediately after WWII, when Ho Chi Minh, who had led the resistance to the Japanese in the war, appealed to the US for support for Viet Nam’s independence from France. We ignored him and supported the French re-occupation of their colony and financed the French military during the brutal for Vietnamese independence. After the French defeat, the US prevented the free and monitored elections agreed upon by all parties to the Geneva accord which ended the war, and our “aid” set up a dictatorship in the southern half of Viet Nam which included collaborators with the French, European-educated urban Catholics (Viet Nam was at least 80% Buddhist at the time and even more rural), and eventually CIA assets and opium warlords. JFK came late to the game. He continued Eisenhower’s policies of delivering military aid and training, working the country as a CIA station rather than an independent nation, and doing nothing that would open up the political culture to democracy. And he did look upon direct military intervention with growing skepticism and planned to decrease our military entanglement there. The situation in Viet Nam from 1960-63 was increasingly chaotic with coup after coup in the south and greater commitment of CIA operations in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, but again these were the natural outcomes of Eisenhower’s cold war policies. The first combat troops arrived after the Gulf of Tonkin incident which was falsified by the Johnson administration to justify direct attacks against Viet Nam. It’s not clear if JFK would have or could have prevented an escalation of the war in Viet Nam, but it’s silly to hold him solely or directly responsible. The entire nation was at fault, and we all share a degree of responsibility for the crime.

    Regarding Jesse Winchester, his debut album is a must have record, produced by Robbie Robertson and full of great songs and singing. A rare talent.

    By Noman on Apr 13, 2014

  8. its amazing how little people who ‘were there’ know about the history of vietnam and the ‘war’ / police action we had there and what led up to it. i am sure this will go on and on and many attacks and insults will get thrown back and forth after this posting. i wont even contribute after this posting but i will say that the ‘majority’ of the usa’s involvement began in the mid to late 50s years before kennedy was in office. sure he had the power to pull out but he was gone by the time we were fully active in the involvement waist deep. after that point our worst ever president lbj had immersed us so deep and ruined any chance we could ever extract ourselves from that action.
    if that wasnt bad enough with the severe and terrible involvement he wrought upon the kids of this country killing and destroying americas youth by sending them over there to be murdered and destroyed for no reason whatsoever in a ‘war’ that was none of our business.. it continued til finally nixon and his administration found a way to get us the fuck out of there. while that man may have been forced out of office for other embarrassing situations i personally like him. how could i not love tricky dick? how could any of us not like him?? HE WAS A TAPER? HAHA!!
    but anyway.. we got out of there in 73. he resigned in 74. ultimately the shebang ended in 75. and people are still suffering the after effects for 50 years now.
    if there were any graves i would ever piss on.. lyndon baynes johnson.. would be the first one.
    ty for this jesse show.. other than the items on sugarmeg its the only one in my collection.

    By darth on Apr 13, 2014

  9. Blah, Blah, Liberal Blah, Blah, Blah…..

    By Aaron Lloyd on Apr 13, 2014

  10. its amazing my cuz wood open his trap again about war issues.he never learns.

    By durth on Apr 13, 2014

  11. Neko Case wasn’t the only person who got teary eyed when he performed on Spectacle. I got a little misty, too. Jesse Winchester was a witty, kind, and thoughtful songwriter. As a teenager in the 80s, I was lucky to find a a trove of vinyl that included his first album and “Third down 110 To Go” and they were everything that MTV was not: a real singer; real instruments; a brain; and a heart. His music was personal and evocative, but not at all self-indulgent or (as a young Elvis Costello said of Jackson Browne) “Shag me-I’m sensitive”.


    As for Aaron Lloyd’s petty shots at liberals and Democrats, it’s worth noting that more people died during President Nixon’s brutal “Vietnamization” of the war than before. On the bright side, I’m pleased that Mr. Lloyd is an admirer of Jimmy Carter, who pardoned Jesse Winchester and thousands like him.

    As for blame, I’d say it was Charles deGaulle, who threatened to fight the North American Treaty organization (NATO) unless we helped the French reclaim Vietnam in the late 1940s.

    There is a great book about the Joint Chiefs of Staff called “Dereliction of Duty” that describes their role in the Vietnam War. They deserve a big chunk of blame, too.

    The debate over JFK’s intentions in impossible to resolve. He didn’t want the Republicans to accuse him of “losing” Vietnam the way they accused Truman of “losing” China. But he didn’t trust the military after the Bay of Pigs. He did order the withdrawal of a small number of U.S. advisers shortly before he died. Mostly, he wanted to get re-elected.

    I respect Jesse Winchester’s personal commitment. Resisting the draft was an act of civil disobedience, and he paid a price for it, both personally and professionally. What’s more, he did it without bitterness…or blame.

    By Eric on Apr 13, 2014

  12. jesse winchester on spectacle:

    By barth on Apr 14, 2014

  13. excellent post

    By dropkick sarge on Apr 14, 2014

  14. Jesse Winchester is another of those artists for whom recordings available are a bit of a hunt. There are a few Bottom Line New York shows from 1977 and 1978 over at the ‘Vault’. Here’s a link to an early show in May of 1977.

    By OtisApplepie on Apr 15, 2014

  15. Thanks, for the great concert. Does anyone else have more?

    By jim g on Oct 10, 2014

  16. I completely missed this one.
    Got it now, thanks.

    By sluggo on Oct 10, 2014

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