Catching On to Larry Jon

posted January 19th, 2010

What a difference a day used to make! In one 24 hour period in 1970, Larry Jon Wilson purchased his first guitar, received the news of his father’s death, and found out that his wife was pregnant with his son. As somebody surely once said, life takes you down different highways, and at the age of thirty, Larry Jon Wilson was about to be detoured due to construction. Something new was building up - he started teaching himself on his new Martin twelve-string guitar and left his day job working for a fiberglass company. Eventually, Larry Jon drifted into the ranks of a new class of songwriters, including Mickey Newbury, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson and David Allan Coe.

In 1981, the iconic film Heartworn Highways was released. The film, along with everything else it seems, is now available on the internet (and DVD too!). The lives of several of these game-changing singer-songwriters were documented, including Townes and Guy. Larry Jon wasn’t featured himself, but a 1975 recording studio performance of his song “Ohoopee River Bottomland” opened the film.

Unfortunately, this was the zenith of Larry Jon’s ten-year music career. He’d made a few records for Monument, but when they failed to have an impact on the country charts, he walked away from the business. In a sense, Larry Jon Wilson’s music was incorruptable - writing songs for himself and not for money, he was unable to learn the language of music as a business. He didn’t stop playing, for himself and for others - but he stopped dealing.

Today, Larry Jon Wilson calls himself a “geezer” - the U.S. definition, of course - but his voice remains clear, deep and resonant. He performs in venues around the south, often covering songs by his friends and some songwriters who aren’t with us any more, like Paul Siebel, Dave Loggins and Mickey Newbury, all medleyed together in Larry Jon’s “Whore Trilogy.”

Why are we telling you this? Aside from our enjoyment of Larry Jon’s music and his discography from the 70s, we’re involved with him! Don’t freak - we’re business partners. Yeah, we speak Larry Jon’s language when it comes to business - music, not money, sob! But seriously, last summer, Drag City released the first Larry Jon Wilson release in the United States since 1980. Why back then, there was no internet, unless you were on the gummit payroll! Records were bigger then - and so were cassingles! The Sunday Funnies were bigger too. But we’re not complaining. No, we live today, and are lucky to do so, because otherwise, we wouldn’t have released Larry Jon Wilson , an album that stands apart from the classic, funky Larry Jon Wilson recordings of the 1970s. On this album, Larry Jon stands mostly alone, occasionally accompanied by a single fiddle. Here he is playing “Shoulders,” an original song. Recorded amidst the newness of the beach condos of Perdido Bay, this song, is timeless. And as for the present day and age, Larry Jon might take his act out of the deep south this summer for some live dates. Keep watching this space for news on the future of Larry Jon Wilson.

Artists in this story: Larry Jon Wilson