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Magnetic South

Michael Nesmith

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Album Review

Anyone who'd been listening closely to the songs Michael Nesmith wrote while a member of the Monkees (or heard his hard to find 1968 solo debut for Dot) already knew that Nesmith had a soft spot for country music. But when Nesmith left the pre-Fab Four to form the First National Band, he dove head first into the twangy stuff, and if he wasn't the first guy to merge country and rock (Gram Parsons easily beat him to the punch on that), he was certainly doing it well before country-rock became the next big thing, and Magnetic South made it clear he had his own distinct way of bringing the two genres together. Nesmith put together a top-flight band who sound at once relaxed and thoroughly committed, whether easing through a laid-back number like "Joanne" or kicking up some dust on "Mama Nantucket"; O.J. "Red" Rhodes' pedal steel work is superb throughout, while bassist John London and drummer John Ware offer strong, unobtrusive support (the great Earl P. Hall also sits in on piano). And though the phrase "cosmic cowboy" wasn't coined for Nesmith, it could have been; here, he indulges himself in a consciously poetic and philosophical lyrical style that's a good bit more abstract than one would expect from a former Monkee, though Nesmith's dry sense of humor is always lurking around the corner, ready to rescue him when he slips too deep into pretension. Mixing a country sound with a rocker's instincts and blending airy thoughts on the nature of life and love with iconography of life in the West that brought together the old and the new, Michael Nesmith reveled in contradictions on Magnetic South, making them sound as comfortable as well-worn cowboy boots and as fun as a Saturday night barn dance. It's a minor masterpiece of country-rock, and while the Eagles may have sold more records, Nesmith yodels a hell of a lot better than any of them.

Customer Reviews

Magnetic South by Michael Nesmith & The First National Band

I was thrilled by this album 30+ years ago as it was truly a part of the "cosmic-cowboy" scene in Austin,Texas, at that time. It was a very special time when hippies wore cowboy boots and shorts and went swimming at Marshall Ford or at the Pedernales. This music represents a cosmic purity of heart, of youth, that still today transcends reality, to put one's soul in that very special place it once was.....sort of a youth reborn. Only very special music can do that. Thank you Michael Nesmith and the First National Band.

Absolutely Beautiful

I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying this entire album. I had long loved the single "Joanne," where Nesmith's voice is absolutely haunting, but decided to purchase the whole album. It was a superb choice on my part, and I recommend you do the same. It show cases some great works which are lesser known by Nesmith, and for those of you who only know Papa Nez from his time with the Monkees, it will be an album which probably will be a good first selection for you, as this is soon after his departure from the group, and still retains the flavor of some of his later work with the Monkees.

love this album

It's ashame that Mike and the rest of the monkees are Music Hall of fame outcasts because of how they came together. Oh well this ablum is wonderful, first time i heard it, i had no idea Mike even released any solo albums. So i went thru my uncles record collection and he had all of them. Crippled lion is my favorite.


Born: December 30, 1942 in Houston, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The comparatively level-headed member of '60s teen sensation the Monkees, Michael Nesmith was the most proficient instrumentalist in the group and wrote their best in-house songs, rootsy pop numbers like "Papa Gene's Blues," "You Told Me," "You Just May Be the One," and "Tapioca Tundra." In fact, he had written many songs before even joining the group, and one of his compositions, "Different Drum," was a hit for Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys in 1968. After he left the Monkees one year later,...
Full Bio

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