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Jimmie Dale Gilmore comes on back to roots

By Dan MacIntosh, September 2005

Page 2...

But it's not dance music like the kind we have today, though.

t (this music) came from the honky tonks, where dancing was part of the whole scene," Gilmore explains. "Even though it's just a simple form, it came from a backdrop of social dancing."

Gilmore also devotes his energies to The Flatlanders.

Three decades separate the first and second albums from The Flatlanders, which is no way to create any commercial momentum. And although it sure took a while to get from album number one to album number two, this trio has certainly taken off in its later life. One wonders if Gilmore is surprised by this better-late-than-never Flatlanders success story.

guess I am a little bit," he admits. "But in another way, I always had a feeling that The Flatlanders had really been overlooked as an actual artistic creation. In one sense, it's almost more of a surprise that it wasn't noticed earlier."

In retrospect, if these three skilled artists had achieved immediate success during their formative years, they might have imploded before too long because it may have been too hard to keep all that talent unified.

But now that they've become successful in these latter, more mature years of their lives, they're much better qualified to be patient with each other - especially with regard to ego issues.

"We (The Flatlanders) were being interviewed once, and I think the greatest compliment that I ever got paid by Joe Ely took place when he wasn't talking to me, but was talking to the interviewer. Joe said that I would have been country star, had it not been for The Flatlanders." (laughter). "And he was only half kidding, you know?"

Yet being a country music star was never one of Gilmore's great career goals.

think most musicians don't think so much in terms of categories, as maybe lots of fans do. It (becoming a country star) wasn't my ambition. I just played music that I loved. And of course, my Texas accent was there, and my nasal voice. So a lot of people just automatically classified it, 'Oh that's a country singer.' But my music was really being formed and influenced by everything. By all kinds of music - especially rock and roll and blues. I very much love the real country, and I think it's pretty obvious by this record. But I never perceived myself as being just a country musician because I just didn't think in that way."

Like a lot of other special musicians, whose music touches upon country roots, in addition to other styles, Gilmore doesn't fit nicely and neatly into the mainstream country world.

And since his style isn't particularly radio-ready, record companies - especially those in Nashville - don't always know what to do with him. Nevertheless, almost anybody that respects country music's long-established musical traditions will likely have a soft spot in their hearts for Gilmore's music.

"It's my opinion that country music, and popular music in general, has suffered because of that attitude because of radio having tunnel vision," Gilmore believes.

After laying down this covers album, Gilmore must just be itching to go back and write a lot of new songs for the next album. But writing songs is not that big of a priority for this performer.

"You know, I've never been as prolific as some of my friends are," Gilmore admits. "I know that I've written some good songs, so it's not false modesty. Once again, I never thought of myself as a writer. I always thought of myself as a singer and really just as an interpreter. In other words, I'm not saying that I'm not a writer because I have written a few songs and some pretty good ones. And I like to write. But I never did perceive writing as being my real artistic direction. I think it happened more accidentally."

As for the next solo album, Gilmore doesn't have any particular plans."There aren't specific plans, but I do have lots of songs that are already written and a lot I'm working on that have kind of accumulated over the years. And there's not a specific timetable, but I do have a record deal."

"And also The Flatlanders are going to work together again," he continues. "We're gonna do another record. And you know with us, we're not fast movers, although our track record for timing has improved. There were 30 years between the first 2 records, and then only 2 years until the next 1. So it's time for another one."

Working with The Flatlanders is easy for Gilmore, primarily because of the relationships he's formed over the years with its other two members. "Oh, it's a ball! We're still all best friends," Gilmore says. "And we enjoy each other's company, whether we're working or not."

These recordings may offer fun times together, but it's not as if each band member just accepts the others' contributions blindly. Instead, they're also able to critique each others' work honestly, as only true friends can.

"Each one is aware that the other two are real fans," Gilmore explains. "Butch knows that Joe and I love his songs and love his singing. And so as a result, we know that any criticism comes from a real sincere place. We've learned that we can criticize each other, and we can praise each other. And I think that's kind of a lucky thing."

Guys like Gilmore, and his fellow Flatlanders, continue to make relevant music, even into their advanced ages - which is old, at least, by pop music standards. But such continued relevancy is probably due to how the solid foundations they each individually built upon.

think that for some unknown reason, we started out with a different attitude then most of the - shall I say successful musicians? - had," theorizes Gilmore. "We never did kind of tow the line. We always kind of went our own ways - even together. Somehow, our attitude toward the music never did put fame and glory or even money ahead of the music."

And chances are, because of this steadfastly great attitude, fans want to "Come On Back" to Gilmore for more, again and again.

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