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Richard Dobson Tribute Old Friends -Tribute To Richard Dobson (CD)

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(Alpha Wolf Records) 18 tracks - digisleeve. A Gathering Of Old Friends - A Tribute To Richard... more

Richard Dobson Tribute: Old Friends -Tribute To Richard Dobson (CD)

(Alpha Wolf Records) 18 tracks - digisleeve. A Gathering Of Old Friends - A Tribute To Richard Dobson

"Old friends, they shine like diamonds / Old friends, you can always call / Old friends, Lord, you can't buy 'em / You know it's old friends after all". In the 70s, Richard Dobson belonged to the inner circle of the alternative outlaw country movement beyond commercially successful artists such as Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings, who in turn drew from the repertoire of these artists, who always balanced between light and "beautiful loser". This was also the case with Richard Dobson, the songwriter's songwriter, whose songs can be found on albums by Nanci Griffith, Dave Edmunds or Johnny Cash. All this many years before he was exiled to the "High Rhine", Switzerland and his great love Edith.

Don Ricardo, as his friends lovingly called him, never forgot his Texas homeland and always stayed with one foot in Texas. For the recently deceased John Prine, Dobson was one of the best songwriters in the USA. Griffith called him the Hemingway of Country Music. If you look at old photos of Richard Dobson, he appears with his long mane, the white full beard and always wearing a cowboy hat, like the symbol of the country outlaw. If at second glance one becomes aware of the mischievous smile and the gentle eyes, the connection between the rough skin and the sensitive core, Dobson's sensitive lyrics, emerges. "I asked for beauty and I got to see the world through the eyes of a child" (from the song "All I Need") "A Gathering Of Old Friends" now brings together fifty of Dobson's friends and companions who interpret his songs and thus provide an insight into his more than 20 albums and over 40 years of extensive work. For listeners who have never before had any connection to him, the "aha" effect is pre-programmed into many of the songs - for example, the classic "Baby Ride Easy", which has been covered countless times.

Among the contributors are Rodney Crowell, Chuck Hawthorne, Brent Moyer, Sergio Webb, Tessie Lou Williams, Albert Lee, Claudia Williams, George Ensle and many more. The project was initiated by legendary author, musician and adventurer W.C. Jameson, who also wrote the liner notes. And indeed, listening to the 18-song disc, one feels as if browsing thoughtfully through an old photo album, browsing through faded recordings, old snapshots on Polaroid and jagged black and white pictures. The opener already gets under your skin: Chuck Hawthorne's touching version of "Old Friends", which Dobson once wrote with his friends Guy and Susanna Clark.

Most of the recordings are reduced to their core and present Dobson's songs leaned back, authentic and earthy in outlaw country style. While the songs partly differ in sound and production, you can hear that it was a heart project for all involved. Memories of James Szalapski's legendary outlaw music film "Heartworn Highways", in which Richard Dobson once performed his wonderful "Forever, For Always, For Certain" (magnificently interpreted by Mickey White on the album) at Guy Clark's cozy kitchen table in the company of Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle, come to mind.

All this happened a long time ago and has long since gone down in the annals of country music history. In 2017 Richard Dobson died at the age of 75 in his adopted Swiss country. "A Gathering Of Old Friends" now erects a worthy monument to him. At the very end of the album, when the chords of "Old Friends" resound once again and the chorus is performed by an evocative all-star choir, all old friends are listed by name from offstage, including those who were only present in the hearts of the performers.

And then, as a final greeting, the album closes with Dobson's voice, his own inserted version of the song. "A Gathering Of Old Friends" has become a vibrant, beautiful tribute album and apart from that a wonderfully raw, independently produced outlaw country jewel that should not be missing from any collection. (Christian Anger - Roadtracks magazine)

Article properties: Richard Dobson Tribute: Old Friends -Tribute To Richard Dobson (CD)

Dobson, Richard - Old Friends -Tribute To Richard Dobson (CD) CD 1
01 Old Friends Richard Dobson Tribute
02 Baby Ride Easy Richard Dobson Tribute
03 The Ballad Of Robin Winter Smith Richard Dobson Tribute
04 One Run To The River With Richard Dobson Tribute
05 Useful Girl Richard Dobson Tribute
06 PIece Of Wood And Steel Richard Dobson Tribute
07 Walking My Blues Away Richard Dobson Tribute
08 So Have I Richard Dobson Tribute
09 Amsterdan Richard Dobson Tribute
10 Woman Up In Dallas Richard Dobson Tribute
11 Money Talks Richard Dobson Tribute
12 Between Husband And Wifes Richard Dobson Tribute
13 She Almost Reminds Me Of You Richard Dobson Tribute
14 All I Need Richard Dobson Tribute
15 Forever, For Always, For Certain Richard Dobson Tribute
16 Never Say Never Richard Dobson Tribute
17 They Call It Music City Richard Dobson Tribute
18 Old Friends - reprise Richard Dobson Tribute
Richard Dobson Richard Dobson , one of America’s finest songwriters and singers,... more
"Richard Dobson Tribute"

Richard Dobson

Richard Dobson, one of America’s finest songwriters and singers, died December 16, 2017 at age 75 in Switzerland.

The Texas-born artist will be remembered especially for Piece of Wood and Steel, a song he wrote about his way-worn Martin D-18 guitar. Richard spent time in the 1970s with like-minded artists like Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, and especially Townes Van Zandt. His songs were recorded and covered by better-known artists like David Allen Coe (Peace of Wood and Street), Guy Clark (Forever, for Always, for Certain; Old Friends), Lacy J. Dalton (Old Friends) and Nanci Griffith (Ballad of Robin Winter-Smith). His song Baby Ride Easy was recorded as a duet by Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash for the TV show ’Christmas On The Road’ in Montreux in 1984.

Recollections of Richard Dobson, by Susanne Loacker, Switzerland
Excerpts from her liner notes to the re-issue of Richard Dobson’s ’Mankind’ album on Bear Family:

   I can't recall when exactly it was that I first heard Richard Dobson play. Must have been around 1988. What I know for sure is this: It was in a dingy bar in Einsiedeln, a Swiss mountain town known for its Benedictine abbey. He was up there on a small stage, sporting a six-foot-something frame and his then-signature black leather vest, and he was backed by Sergio Webb on guitar and Susie Monick on banjo and accordion. A voice like single malt straight from the cask, with hardly a cover tune, but if so, one by Townes Van Zandt.


This was no Nashville country. Not by any means. Dobson's tunes never were the stuff you mindlessly line-danced to. He used to call his ever-changing band 'State of the Heart', and he knew why: Not only was the name a reference to his birth and home state, Texas, but it  as also to what he was doing up on that stage: he was singing his heart out.
 Imagine a tall dude with a beard and a way-worn Martin D-18 singing lines like these: "You tried to tell me what was right / I told you what was real / All I ever lived for / Was this piece of wood and steel." Tacky? No, true. True as life. Dobson is not about decorum, and he doesn't much give a damn about what others think. His first of two autobiographical novels, 'The Gulf Coast Boys,' has him smoking marijuana on the very first page.
 

After the gig, we somehow ended up in Dobson's hotel room. It was a scene I'll never forget: Richard and his then-girlfriend and banjo player Susie Monick sat on the bed, while my best friend Edith, the woman who had talked me into coming to the gig, and her husband sat on the floor. So did I, holding my old jumbo maple Takamine. We played some bluegrass songs: Blackberry Blossom, Wildwood Flower, and some Cash, Tennessee Flat-Top Box, and Big River.

 Richard Dobson, born in Tyler, Texas, in 1942, is a real Houston kid. But his musical education began in The Hague, Netherlands, where his parents had moved when Richard was eight years old. During the year in Holland, he and his younger sister were sent to an English school, and their parents thought it might be the right time for the kids to learn to play an instrument. Richard reluctantly agreed to piano lessons: "I was rebellious," he recalls, "and often disinclined to go along with what my parents suggested." It soon became clear that he and the piano teacher were not a good match. "She found my Texan accent barbaric", Dobson says, "and when I told my parents I wanted to quit, they said okay."

 At home, Richard was always exposed to music by way of his father's enormous collection of European music, mostly classical. His mother loved musicals. By his mid-teens, to the disapproval of his parents, Richard was listening to Hank Williams, R&B and early rock 'n' roll. He spent his teenage years on the Gulf coast in Corpus Christi and Houston, finishing high school in Santa Fe, New Mexico when his father, an oilman, moved to another overseas assignment.


 Twelve years after those unfortunate piano lessons in The Hague, Dobson bought a secondhand guitar in a shop in Cali, Colombia and began teaching himself to play. He finished college with a degree in Spanish and spent some time with the Peace Corps in Chile. Later, he taught Spanish and English at a school in Michigan for a year, and lived in New York for a time, while working as a barman at the rock club, Max's Kansas City. It was around that time that he started writing; prose at first. After his first manuscript was turned down by several publishers, he moved to New Mexico to give it another try. "There", he remembers, "a series of revelations occurred, and what had been my sideline became my mainline; I became addicted to songwriting and put everything else on the back burner."


   Since college days Dobson had worked on drilling rigs, and later on fishing and oilfield boats when he needed money. He always took a guitar with him and wrote songs during his time off. Some of those songs are still around today, the most famous one being Baby Ride Easy, a funny little tune that was recorded by Carlene Carter and Dave Edmunds, and later on by Johnny Cash and June Carter. Dobson never knew until the album, 'Out Among The Stars' came out, released posthumously, ten years after Johnny Cash's death. For Richard it was an immense honour. When I asked him what his first thought was when he heard about the Cash cut, he simply stated: "I wish my parents could have lived to see this." Everybody else would have had dollar signs in his eyes. Not him.


   He doesn't seem to care that he's getting his biggest pay check from a song that, and he'll forgive me for saying this, does not rate among his finest. Merle Haggard has been through this, Kris Kristofferson, and so many other great songwriters. It's the recognition that counts, an accolade that comes late but is well-deserved.


   His first love, though, was literature. After having grown up on a steady diet of Hemingway and Kerouac, Dobson studied Spanish literature. One day he heard a song by Kris Kristofferson. "It was then that it occurred to me that writing songs might be an option", he recalls. "But I knew from the start that it would be hard for me to find a place for my songs in Nashville." At that time, in 1971 an intellectual songwriter niché had established itself in Nashville: Guy Clark and his wife Susanna, Rodney Crowell, Skinny Denis Sanchez, and of course Townes Van Zandt. Dobson knew where he belonged. "Songwriting", Dobson writes in his memoir, "was not so much a business as a way of life." In order to support himself, Dobson found a job as a bartender at Bishop's American Pub, which became one of the first open-mic places in Nashville. Players were allowed to perform three songs, with three free beers allowed to each musician, and a chance to pass the hat. The party would continue at a ramshackle house on Acklen Road long since demolished. It was in 1972 that Richard Dobson wrote one of his finest songs, Piece Of Wood And Steel, about his Martin D-18. David Allan Coe later recorded the song – and even claimed it as his own.

Richard Dobson Mankind
Read more at: https://www.bear-family.com/dobson-richard-mankind.html
Copyright © Bear Family Records

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Tracklist
Dobson, Richard - Old Friends -Tribute To Richard Dobson (CD) CD 1
01 Old Friends
02 Baby Ride Easy
03 The Ballad Of Robin Winter Smith
04 One Run To The River With
05 Useful Girl
06 PIece Of Wood And Steel
07 Walking My Blues Away
08 So Have I
09 Amsterdan
10 Woman Up In Dallas
11 Money Talks
12 Between Husband And Wifes
13 She Almost Reminds Me Of You
14 All I Need
15 Forever, For Always, For Certain
16 Never Say Never
17 They Call It Music City
18 Old Friends - reprise