larry jon wilson (october 7th 1940 – june 21st 2010)

by jamesendeacott

i’ve just realised it would have been Larry Jon Wilsons birthday today. I had the pleasure of releasing his last album about 7 years ago on my label 1965 records. It was his first album for 28 years and it really is a thing of beauty. Larry Jon came over to the UK for a week or so in I think 2008 – he played several low key shows for his followers and new friends…anyone who came across him was struck by his humour, gentleness, cheek and appetite for Cornish Pastys…!!! the record is still available through Drag City i think and is just called Larry Jon Wilson…here’s the sleeve…a picture of Larry in the basement of his house in Augusta looking at some stained glass that a fan had made him back in the mid 1970’s…

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here’s a track from it called Shoulders…

Jerry who co-produced the album with Jeb Loy Nichols wrote some lovely sleeve notes for the album as well…

-from the liner notes

In June of 2007, Jeb Loy Nichols, Jake Housh, and I met up with Larry Jon Wilson in Perdido Key, Florida to do some recording. Larry Jon knew the area well and when he spoke of it in the months prior to the session, it sounded fantastic and lush. The Spanish named the land, meaning “lost key”, when it was founded in the late 1600s. I’m not sure when Larry Jon found himself there for the first time, but he knows the area like a native. And though the days I spent there may not be “lost”, they’re certainly fuzzy.

Throughout the next seven days, Larry Jon recorded about twenty songs. A man-out-of-time, he told stories about hitch-hiking, hustling pool, being a father, gambling, drinking, women, and friendships, focusing mostly on those he shared with Townes Van Zandt and Mickey Newbury. As Jeb and I poked Larry Jon for stories, Jake was quick enough to roll tape when the narratives turned to songs. Larry Jon never gave us any indication when things were about to begin. He would pick up his guitar, crack open a corner of memory, and play without concern that it was being captured. Often times, at the song’s end, he seemed surprised by himself, like he was channeling some feral piece of his past. Many of these songs he wrote, and the ones he didn’t have now been officially “Wilson-ized”. Only the song “Shoulders” was performed twice; the rest of the album is all first and only takes.

This may not be the best way to make records. There was no order, no schedule, no plan. But we pushed a microphone in front of a man with a guitar and now we have a record. Nobody told Larry Jon what songs to sing (not that it would have mattered if we did). Nothing here is showbiz; there’s no “production”, no glitter. And so, these songs sound like music, like Life with a big “L”, like Larry Jon Wilson and no one else.

-Jerry DeCicca

most people know Larry Jon Wilson from the movie Heartworn Highways where he’s seen recording his 1975 classic Ohoopee River Bottomland – and as if by magic…

…and here’s a picture taken by my good friend Tommo when Larry was in the UK…this was from the 12 Bar Club straight after Larry Jon had been in deep conversation with Jason Pierce from Spiritualized…

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bless you Larry Jon Wilson – i will never forget your southern hospitality and i’ll also never forget the Grits you made me for breakfast every morning for about a week when I stayed at your place in Augusta, Georgia…