Happy Birthday: Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Happy Birthday: Jimmie Dale Gilmore

The great Jimmie Dale Gilmore turns 69 years old today, and to celebrate the occasion, we thought we’d take a look back at the trio of albums he released during his half-decade tenure on Elektra Records.

First, though, a bit of history.

Born in 1945 in Amarillo, Texas, Gilmore first came to musical prominence in the early 1970s, when he formed the Flatlanders with fellow Amarillo native Joe Ely and their Lubbock-born buddy, Butch Hancock. Given that almost no one heard the trio’s 1972 album, the barely-released All-American Music (it only came out on 8-track, and even that was only a small run done to fulfill a contractual obligation), more people actually discovered the solo efforts of his bandmates before they ever got an earful of what Gilmore had to offer: he spent most of the ‘70s studying metaphysics in an ashram in Denver, Colorado – true story – while Ely released his self-titled debut in 1977 and Hancock put out West Texas Waltzes And Dust-Blown Tractor Tunes in 1978. It wasn’t until 1988, after Gilmore had left the ashram and moved to Austin, Texas that he finally got around to releasing his own debut album, Fair and Square, on Hightone Records, and after putting out his self-titled follow-up album the following year, he made the jump to the majors.

1991’s After Awhile was Gilmore’s Elektra debut, and it found him melding his country and western influences to more of a singer-songwriter sensibility than his first two albums, but the end result proved to be a quiet, intimate affair that served to spotlight both his lyrics as well as his musicianship, with highlights including the opening track, “I Think I’m Going to Go Downtown,” “Treat Me Like a Saturday Night,” and “Blue Moon Waltz.” When Gilmore’s next album – 1993’s Spinning Around the Sun – emerged, however, it had a smoother sound (doubtlessly in an effort to score country radio airplay) but featured fewer original songs and, while still consistently enjoyable, just didn’t have the same oomph as its predecessor. Thankfully, 1996’s Braver Newer World was a return to form, creatively speaking, with AllMusic.com even making the bold statement that the album features “a brilliant fusion of pure country, mystical explorations, and sonic experimentation that foreshadows the psychedelic tilt of nominally alt-country albums like Wilco's Summer Teeth or the Jayhawks' Smile.”

Strong words? Yes. But are they untrue? Well, we obviously don’t think so, but find out for yourself by listening to the playlist we’ve put together for the birthday boy.