20 Songs, 1 Hour 1 Minute

EDITORS’ NOTES

Gary Stewart disregarded the macho posturing of the ‘70s and created songs that embodied the worry, despair, and self-pity that had defined country music since the days of Jimmie Rodgers. His signature song, “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” has become a barroom staple, buts its punch-line title and sing-along refrain tend to obscure the desperation of the verses: “I’m not weak, I tell myself / I stay because I’m strong / The truth is, I’m not man enough / To stop her from doing me wrong.” The Essential Gary Stewart contains all of his definitive singles, most of which Stewart wrote himself, and all of which he sang in a voice that was as intense and unstable as the man behind it. By the early ‘80s, Stewart’s career was derailed by his incompatibility with the Nashville music machine and a mounting series of personal problems. After being coaxed from the shadows for a trio of uneven comeback album in the late ‘80s/ early ‘90s, Stewart retreated to the honky-tonk circuit before eventually ending his own life following the death of his wife in 2003. The Essential Gary Stewart plays like a haunted jukebox, the loneliness and regret of Stewart’s music bringing to strangers the comfort that forever eluded its creator.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Gary Stewart disregarded the macho posturing of the ‘70s and created songs that embodied the worry, despair, and self-pity that had defined country music since the days of Jimmie Rodgers. His signature song, “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” has become a barroom staple, buts its punch-line title and sing-along refrain tend to obscure the desperation of the verses: “I’m not weak, I tell myself / I stay because I’m strong / The truth is, I’m not man enough / To stop her from doing me wrong.” The Essential Gary Stewart contains all of his definitive singles, most of which Stewart wrote himself, and all of which he sang in a voice that was as intense and unstable as the man behind it. By the early ‘80s, Stewart’s career was derailed by his incompatibility with the Nashville music machine and a mounting series of personal problems. After being coaxed from the shadows for a trio of uneven comeback album in the late ‘80s/ early ‘90s, Stewart retreated to the honky-tonk circuit before eventually ending his own life following the death of his wife in 2003. The Essential Gary Stewart plays like a haunted jukebox, the loneliness and regret of Stewart’s music bringing to strangers the comfort that forever eluded its creator.

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