Gene Watson’s Peers within the country music industry believe in the sheer talent of this unassuming man from east Texas, so much so that Gene is regarded by many of them as ‘the singer’s singer’ – and rightly so!
All of Gene Watson’s Peers, who were contacted by The Gene Watson Fan Site, during 2006, were most gracious with their time and words.
It is here, within this special part of The Gene Watson Fan Site, that you have an opportunity to read a quote from James Talley, which he submitted to this site on Sunday 2 July 2006.
Sean Brady would like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to James Talley who has made a special contribution to a unique part of this online ‘celebration of a Lone Star Hero’.
This quote was submitted on Sunday 2 July 2006.
‘Gene Watson was always grounded in the true country music of working people.
I remember one time in Atlanta, early in Gene’s career; he was at Great Southeast Music Hall in Atlanta.
Gene was taking his equipment out of the trunk of his car. There were all these body-working tools in the trunk that you would use to repair automobiles.
The proprietor of The Music Hall asked Gene why he still carried all his body-working tools around with him, and he said, ‘Well, in this business, you never know when I might have to go back to them’.
He had a wonderful voice and wonderful phrasing in his songs from the outset’
Thank you, James Talley, for your support of Gene Watson.
James Talley is an Oklahoma born folk-country-blues singer / songwriter, whose career spans nearly forty years.
James Talley’s name has been mentioned alongside Woody Guthrie (Sunday 14 July 1912 – Tuesday 3 October 1967), Merle Haggard (Tuesday 6 April 1937 – Wednesday 6 April 2016) and Bob Dylan, and he has been praised for the quality of his songwriting and wise, expressive voice.
As a youth, James Talley’s family moved from their home state of Oklahoma to the state of Washington, where his father worked as a chemical operator in the now infamous Hanford plutonium factory.
After five years in Richland, Washington, and realising the hazards his father’s employment presented, the family relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico and the rich tri-cultured environment of the Southwest.
After graduating from University of New Mexico with a degree in fine arts, James Talley, after encouragement from Pete Seeger (Saturday 3 May 1919 – Monday 27 January 2014), began to write songs that drew upon the culture of the Southwest that he experienced growing up.
These early songs eventually became ‘The Road to Torreòn’, a saga of life and death in the Chicano villages of northern New Mexico. These powerful songs sat on the shelf in Nashville until Germany-based Bear Family Records finally released the project, ‘The Road To Torreòn’ (Bear Family Records, 1992), in a beautiful box set edition in 1992, over twenty years after it was originally written.
In 1968, James Talley moved from New Mexico to Nashville to try and get his songs recorded. The late John Hammond Sr. at Columbia Records in New York was his first mentor and championed his writing in the early 1970s, as he had the careers of Bob Dylan, Leonard Norman Cohen (Friday 21 September 1934 – Monday 7 November 2016) and Bruce Springsteen.
When John Hammond could not get James Talley’s more country music-flavoured sound signed at Columbia Records in New York, he sent him to Jerry Wexler (Wednesday 10 January 1917 – Friday 15 August 2008), whose Atlantic Records was starting a new country music division in Nashville at the time.
Jerry Wexler (Wednesday 10 January 1917 – Friday 15 August 2008) signed James Talley to his first recording contract at Atlantic Records in 1972, along with Doug Sahm (Thursday 6 November 1941 – Thursday 18 November 1999) and Willie Nelson.
Atlantic Records’ Nashville operation, however, did not do well at the time and Atlantic closed its Nashville office.
James Talley then moved to Capitol Records, where he saw the release of four now legendary albums, during the mid 1970s, including the following:
‘Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money, But We Sure Got a Lot of Love’ (Capitol Records, 1975)
‘Tryin’ Like The Devil’ (Capitol Records, 1976)
‘Blackjack Choir’ (Capitol Records, 1977) / B.B. King (Wednesday 16 September 1925 – Thursday 14 May 2015) played guitar on this album, marking the first time the legendary bluesman had ever recorded in Nashville
‘Ain’t It Something’ (Capitol Records, 1977) / one of the personnel involved in the recording of this album was Randy Lynn Scruggs (Monday 3 August 1953 – Tuesday 17 April 2018), who played banjo
Rolling Stone, along with other music publications, declared all of these albums as American classics.
Gene Clark (Friday 17 November 1944 – Friday 24 May 1991) recorded James Talley’s ‘Give My Love To Marie’ and included the track on ‘Two Sides To Every Story’ (Robert Stigwood Organisation Records, 1977); this album was re-issued by High Moon Records (on vinyl) in 2011, and by High Moon Records (on CD) in 2013.
Hazel Dickens (Saturday 1 June 1935 – Friday 22 April 2011) recorded James Talley’s ‘Are They Gonna Make Us Outlaws Again’ and included the track on ‘By The Sweat of My Brow’ (Rounder Records, 1983).
During the 1980s, James Talley recorded two albums, both of which were released by Germany-based Bear Family Records; ‘American Originals’ (Bear Family Records, 1985) and ‘Love Songs & The Blues’ (Bear Family Records, 1989).
Johnny Cash (Friday 26 February 1932 – Friday 12 September 2003) recorded James Talley’s ‘W. Lee O’Daniel & The Light Crust Dough Boys’ and included the track on ‘The Night Hank Williams Came To Town’ (Mercury Records, 1987).
Alan Jackson recorded James Talley’s ‘W. Lee O’Daniel & The Light Crust Dough Boys’ and included the track on ‘New Traditional’ (Americana Records, 1992).
Roger Ballard recorded James Talley’s ‘You Can’t Get There From Here’ (co-written with Keith Stegall and Roger Murrah) and included the track on ‘A Little Piece of Heaven’ (Atlantic Records, 1993); the track was released as a single on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart in 1993, but it did not chart.
During the 1990s, James Talley saw the release of ‘The Road To Torreòn’ (Bear Family Records, 1992) and ‘James Talley: Live’ (Bear Family Records, 1994).
In 2000, James Talley also saw the release of ‘Woody Guthrie & Songs of My Oklahoma Home’ (Cimarron Records, 2000).
In July 2000, James Talley saw the release of ‘Nashville City Blues’ (Cimarron Records, 2000) and was named Amazon’s ‘Folk Artist of The Year’ in 2000.
In 2002, James Talley saw the release of ‘Touchstones’ (Cimarron Records, 2002), which was a re-recording of some of the classic songs from James Talley’s four 1970s Capitol Records albums, ‘Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money, But We Sure Got a Lot of Love’ (Capitol Records, 1975), ‘Tryin’ Like The Devil’ (Capitol Records, 1976), ‘Blackjack Choir’ (Capitol Records, 1977) and ‘Ain’t It Something’ (Capitol Records, 1977).
In 2004, James Talley saw the release of ‘Journey’ (Cimarron Records, 2004), which was a ‘live’ in-concert project; tha album was recorded while James Talley was on a tour of Italy.
In 2006, James Talley’s acclaimed first Capitol Records album, ‘Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money, But We Sure Got a Lot of Love’ (Capitol Records, 1976), was re-issued as a special 30th anniversary edition and was named in the Top 10 re-issues of 2006 by both No Depression Magazine and The Nashville Scene.
James Talley performed twice at The White House for President Jimmy Carter and at The Smithsonian Institution.
James Talley also performed in other concert venues around the United States and in Europe.
At the time of the acquisition of this ‘Peer’s Quote’ about Gene Watson, in July 2006, James Talley was residing in Nashville.
• Visit James Talley’s official site at jamestalley.com