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Learn to Love It

Jesse Winchester

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Album Review

As the title suggests, making a virtue of necessity had always been one of Jesse Winchester's goals, and by the time of the release of his third album, the American expatriate had gone ahead and assumed Canadian citizenship. This seemed to free him to comment explicitly on his antiwar exile in "Pharaoh's Army" and especially a version of the old campaign song "Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt" updated with new lyrics: "In the year of 1967, as a somewhat younger man, the call to bloody glory came, and I would not raise my hand." Elsewhere, Winchester continued to write love songs to his lost South ("L'Air de la Louisiane," "Mississippi You're on My Mind") and, to a lesser extent, to pursue the wistful philosophizing found on Third Down, 110 to Go ("Defying Gravity"). The sense that he was repeating himself was inescapable, however, and with one-third of the album written by others and two of the originals in French Canadian, it was also obvious that Winchester was straining to come up with material. Interestingly, the two Russell Smith songs included, "Third Rate Romance" (which Smith sang uncredited) and "The End Is Not in Sight," went on to become Top 40 country hits for Smith's group, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, in the next two years. Stoney Edwards took "Mississippi You're on My Mind" into the country Top 40 in 1975.

Biography

Born: 17 May 1944 in Bossier City, LA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Jesse Winchester was the music world's most prominent Vietnam War draft evader, though his renown came from a body of wry, closely observed songs. After growing up in Memphis, Winchester received his draft notice in 1967 and moved to Montreal, Canada, rather than serve in the military. In 1969, he met Robbie Robertson of the Band, who helped launch his recording career. In the same way that James Taylor's history of mental instability and drug abuse served as a subtext for his early music, Winchester's...
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