Jerry Corbitt's CD Along for the Ride
Catching Up With an Old Friend
By: David Wilson - Nov 25, 2009Along for the Ride
by Jerry Corbitt
Desert Wind Music Â– DW1001
I have history with Jerry Corbitt. As the military brat with a father stationed at Otis AFB, Corbitt came to play in the Boston scene as lead in a small, country folk group but stayed on as a solo. I agreed to act as his manager. With his talent and work ethic it was a rewarding relationship based on no more than a handshake. Jerry later asked me to release him from his obligations. (Â…And you think getting dumped by a lover feels bad). He had been recruited for a newly formed folk rock band. He wanted to be a member of the group which already had management. Corbitt was excited about the music the group was developing.
Perhaps I might have argued or objected but he was so excited that to deny him would have made me feel like a selfish jerk. Indeed, he had the courtesy to make it a request. I held him then and now in great affection. So I said, of course, good luck and stay in touch. The group was, as some of you will have already guessed, Jesse Colin Young and the Youngbloods. I have never regretted releasing him other than missing his friendly presence.
Many years have now swept by. After the Youngbloods, Jerry partnered with Charlie Daniels, getting a bit more countrified and building one success atop another. He appeared with America, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Judy Collins, Neil Diamond, Waylon Jennings, Bonnie Raitt, and Kenny Rogers among others.
Corbitt not only wrote songs and made music, he produced tons of albums by others; Don Mclean, Janis Ian, Charlie Daniels, Mad River. He created music and soundtrack albums for films, "Radio Flyer", "Forrest Gump", "Target", "1969," "Pontiac Moon", "Zabriskie Point", "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas ", "Jack The Bear", "Bullworth", "Millennium", "The Dish", and TV sound tracks, for "The Simpsons," "Tour Of Duty", "China Beach", "In Living Color" And "Beverley Hills 90210". We won't even mention the commercials. This is what you call a pedigree.
Wish I could say that we stayed in touch, but we didn't. I did manage to spend a few minutes with him in '71 or '72 when he was in Boston with Charlie Daniels, and we again said all the right things and agreed to stay in touch. It was not to be.
Every once in awhile, I wondered what he might be up to, but had no idea where he might be. Then along comes this technology that changes almost everything. If you think not you're kidding yourself.
Earlier this year I was avoiding Facebook, other than to stay in touch with a few far-flung friends and their farther-flung kids. Suddenly I started connecting with colleagues and chums from the "sometimes good ol'days of the '60s." Amongst them I discovered Jerry Corbitt and sent out a timid friend request, which was enthusiastically responded to. Emails are exchanged and we even spent an hour or more on the phone catching up on our life situations. It's a common story these days, thanks to this technology.
He's gone cowboy, whole route, ranch, horses, recording and mixing studio, Texas et al. We swap memories of mutual friends, some of which you might recognize. Then while talking about Peter Childs, he mentions that they had recently shared some time together in the course of Jerry putting together his new CD "Along for the Ride."
"I'll send you one", he said. .
Right out front I'm going to state that I am not a big country music fan. Any review of country music I might write is suspect. Oh, I like a few things, Ray Stevens often makes me laugh out loud, and I like a lot of mid 20th century what-we-called hillbilly and I have great affection for Texas Swing of the Bob Wills style. I respect traditional bluegrass, but it does not stir the passion in me that it does in others.The no nonsense singing of Jimmie Rodgers can give me goose-bumps.
I like songs with catchy if bizarre lyrics.
"I was looking back to see if she was looking back to see if I was looking back to see if she was looking back at me," and "I have tears in my ears from laying on my back in my bed while I cried over you," as well as, "Don't shoot the bartender, he's half shot now."
On the other hand, I have little patience with most "He/she done me wrong " songs soaked in shallow, corn syrup melodies and demented, faux gypsy, string sections. You know the kind whereof I speak. Surely there is fine country music out there but finding my way to it through all the lesser efforts tends to be tedious and I'm too lazy to do it.
So, the CD comes and I admire first the care that has gone into the package. Great full profile picture of Jer on the cover, not the young chum I remember, but still recognizable, The six panel front insert has a couple pics of him on horseback and extensive credits for all of the songs and musicians. My eye catches a number of familiar names including Jesse Colin Young, Charlie Daniels, Peter Childs, Mark Karan, Stevie Davis, Michael Hurley and Bobby Flores. The back panel insert has two sides with one showing through the inside disc holder and none of these are throwaways, each obviously chosen with loving care.
So, I pop it in the CD player and the music comes out.
Waiting to hear Jer's voice I ignore the opening strains of "A Little at a Time", though on repeated listening I find it a precise if restrained setting for the first vocal phrases. Age has had its way with Jerry's voice. Sotto voce his pitch slips on the rare note here and there. Most listeners will never notice. However the rich texture of his vibrant baritone is complex and embodies more natural feeling with less effort than most and Jerry's phrasing is as precise and focused as ever. When he opens up to full throttle, his voice belies his age
But like I said this technology changes everything so if you care enough to read this, it makes more sense for you to listen to that of which I write.
Open this link in another window and click on the play button for "Little At A Time" http://www.myspace.com/jerrycorbitt Several of the CD's songs are complete here and if you want to sample a bit of all of them, check out http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/corbitt .
His classic Youngbloods' signature tune, "Grizzly Bear" rocks every bit as much as it did 30+ years ago, but with a richer setting. Jerry seems to have a good time with Michael Hurley's "The Pool Hall Song." The song itself leaves me wondering a bit, but then all Michael Hurley songs tend to do that to me. Michael Hurley, himself, often leaves me wondering. The duet with Robyn Hanks on "There Was This One" is poignant and pleasantly understated,
In track after track the music flows, sometimes a river in full flow, sometimes a trickle, but always supporting, even embracing the lyrics without distracting from or obscuring them. The mixing here displays a precise and stellar hand. Repeated listening constantly offers up nuances I previously missed. I think particularly here of the strains of Charlie Daniel's fiddle in "Boy of Yesterday", subtle and enriching to the performance, and it is just one example of a multitude of like instances..
If there is anything left out that I would like to have it is the lyrics. Maybe they could be posted on-line somewhere.
In summation, I enjoyed this CD more than I ever expected. I am impressed by the love and attention to detail obviously lavished on every performance and every stage of its production. I expect many of you would as well. If you agree or disagree please share your opinion and let it be known below.
And thanks Jer, for taking me "Along for the Ride"