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Jimmie Dale Gilmore returns to action

By Jeffrey B. Remz, March 2000

Jimmie Dale Gilmore may have been missing in action, but he was not forgotten.

At least not by those waiting for a new album since his decidedly different 1996 outing, "Braver Newer World," more of a high tech Gilmore effort, or hoping for more action from a quarter-century old band, The Flatlanders, that was as the title of their one and only album goes "more legend than a band."

One record deal label, numerous negotiations and a hand at co-producing later, Gilmore released his sixth album, "One Endless Night" thorough his own label and Rounder.

"Someone said the other day...between my first two albums was what? Like 15 years," he says laughing. "Or more."

Heck. That's slower than his friend Lucinda Williams.

"It's usually only a couple of years, not three or four years."

Unlike his last set of songs, the new disc hones in on his country roots.

And that was no accident for the Austin-area artist with an unforgettable, somewhat fragile sounding voice.

Gilmore, 54, says part of the reason for the change in sound on "One Endless Night" was his buds at the time.

"I feel I learned and was affected by it just because of the company I was keeping - these great LA session guys," he says in an interview from his home. "It was really fun to play with them because they had a different mindset."

"My approach to all of it is to have some songs that I genuinely love and some real good musicians and hopefully someone really good at stirring it all together and seeing what comes out."

"I've always gone into all recording projects with a real openness to something coming out of it," he says.

"One of my intentions on 'Braver' was I wanted to deliberately explore. There's always been a whole genuine part of my influences and tastes that you couldn't call country. On that one, I went on purpose to go as far afield as I wanted to."

"Even the decision to have T-Bone (Burnett) produce it was part of the approach," says Gilmore.

"From the beginning, I've always been kind of experimental anyway. In that sense, it wasn't a departure," he says. "I've never been concerned with what was current. I've always been more concerned with just the songs."

"I like that record a lot, but once again I know for sure it went more to the textures and the sound than the songs," Gilmore says. "My real whole basis is the song itself - not necessarily the story, the meanings and feelings."

The 13 songs find Gilmore covering tunes by fellow Texans Butch Hancock, the late Townes Van Zandt, Willis Alan Ramsey and the late Walter Hyatt. He even does a slowed down, ultra spare version of "Mack the Knife" and the Jerry Garcia-Robert Hunter song "Ripple."

Gilmore, who co-produced with Buddy Miller, did contribute several songs, including the title track and the rave-up closer "DFW," a hidden track.

"Nearly all of them are songs I've sung for many years, songs in my repertoire that I always wanted to record. It's almost impossible to pin down - there wasn't a specific idea behind why did you do this. It was just all intuitive."

"The way I look at it is one of the things I like to do is if I'm really affected by a song, I like to turn other people onto it. It's something I've liked since I'm really young. "

"People wanted to know why I didn't do all my own songs. The reason is I have my own self image. I think of myself more as an singer, an interpreter of song. Even of my own. It's a subtle difference in approach. I never had this attitude - 'I'm going to be a writer.' I've written songs, and I've written some good songs."

Perhaps the most unusual choices are the inclusion of the Grateful Dead song, "Ripple" and "Mack the Knife."

"I've done that song since the early '80's," says Gilmore of "Ripple" from the Dead's "American Beauty album. "That has been one of my favorite songs for a really long time. That's a really magical song. That's a song where some of my worlds came together. It's sweet and traditional country."

As for "Mack," which Gilmore sings slowly and sparely, the song is Bobby Darin.

"I was a fan of Bobby Darin's," says Gilmore. "I loved Darin's version, but it was Dave's (Van Ronk) version that made me hear the song as a lyrical story thing. I didn't know anything about it from the 'Three Penny Opera.' Dave Van Ronk talked about it in his liner notes."

"The vocal style is the way I've done it for all this time. It was sort of the way my vocals struck Buddy - that strange, dreamy underwater kind of sound. My approach to it - I didn't copy Dave Van Ronk, but I was inspired by it. If you ever hear his version, you'll definitely be able to tell."

Miller says from his Nashville home he didn't want to put his own stamp on the disc.

"I've never really been into that," says Miller, a recording artist in his own right. "I like to help to people be what they are on tape. I didn't want to make a Buddy Miller record with somebody else's voice on tape."

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