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Singer David Olney dies at 71

Sunday, January 19, 2020 – David Olney died Saturday after suffering an apparent heart attack during a performance in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. at 71.

A key member of Nashville's music community since his move to Music City in 1973, the Lincoln, R.I. native leaned to towards more of a folk sound with country as part of the music.

Olney's songs have been recorded by Harris, Del McCourty, Linda Ronstadt and Steve Young. He wrote of a Nashville train disaster, baseball shortstop Phil Rizzuto, actor John Barrymore, Jesus from the narrative perspective of the donkey that carried him into Jerusalem, and the Titanic from the perspective of the iceberg that sank the ship.

Country Music Hall of Fame member Emmylou Harris said, "David Olney tells marvelous stories, with characters who cling got the hope of enduring love, all the while crossing the deep divide into that long, dark night of the soul."

Steve Earle called Olney "one of the best songwriters working in the world today," and the late Townes Van Zandt once said, "Anytime anyone asks me who my favorite music writers are, I say, 'Mozart, Lightnin' Hopkins, Bob Dylan and Dave Olney.'"

His friend and songwriting great Guy Clark said that Olney's art "transcends craftsmanship. It's inspired, for sure."

Olney moved to Nashville after briefly studying English at the University of North Carolina. He quickly fell in with a group of like-minded songwriters that included Clark, Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, and Richard Dobson. In the early 1980s, he formed The X-Rays, a rock band that secured a contract with Rounder Records. In 1986, he embarked on a solo recording career that produced more than 20 albums and allowed him to travel the world making music.

His first album was "Eye of the Storm" in 1986, while his most recent was 2017's "Don't Try to Fight It."

He is survived by wife, Regine, daughter, Lillian, and son, Redding.

CD reviews for David Olney

When the Deal Goes Down CD review - When the Deal Goes Down
Few would ever conceptualize plot lines like these, much less know how to integrate it all together. So suffice it to say that only an artist as inspired as David Olney might possess the singular savvy that envisions the Greek god Sisyphus as a poor Indiana farmer back in the 1930s. Likewise, not too many songwriters go so far out on a limb as to write a tune voicing the observations of a fly on the wall whose witnessing a dialogue between the God and Satan during a poker game no less. »»»
One Tough Town CD review - One Tough Town
One of the toughest tasks in reviewing any release by David Olney is trying to nail down the sound. Olney writes with such variety, in addition to quality, and works so often without a net in terms of picking the musical backdrop for his work, that categorization is out of the question. Such is the case with this release as well. The opener "Whistle Blows" takes a harp and blows it through a Wurlitzer Piano speaker. "Oh Yeah" features a trombone. "Sweet Potato" is a »»»
Migration CD review - Migration
At this point in his consistently acclaimed career, David Olney would have to attempt an album of AC/DC covers to generate a truly terrible review. Olney has been following his singular folk muse for the better part of 20 years, offering songs that are so much more than mere perspectives on life. Olney's gift is in his detailed writing; he crafts songs that tell stories, take journeys and reveal truths as he himself inhabits the characters and situations that he creates to convey his amazing tales. »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: The Lil Smokies provide the perfect antidote – On a night when the world to be falling further apart thanks to coronavirus (this would be the night the NBA postponed the season), there stood The Lil Smokies to at least in some small measure save the day. The quintet is part of a generation of musicians with bluegrass as the basis, but not totally the sum of the music either.... »»»
Concert Review: White makes the case for himself, no matter how dark the music – John Paul White opined with a glint in his eyes that his songs were not of the uplifting variety. In fact, they were downright dark. How else to explain "The Long Way" with the line "long way home back to you." Or "James," a song inspired by his grandfather who suffered from dementia. But lest you think that the Alabama... »»»
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