One day I’ll be old gray grandpa
All the pretty girls will call me “sir,”
Now, where they’re asking me how things are
Soon they’ll ask me how things were
Well, I don’t mind being an old gray grandpa
If you’ll be my gray grandma
But I suggest we go have our milk and cookies
In the shade of the old paw-paw
~ Jesse Winchester
What’s that? You never heard of Jesse Winchester? Here’s what Bob Dylan had to say about him: “You can’t talk about the best songwriters and not include him.” Winchester’s songs bore a whimsical elegance and an occasional touch of melancholy; his tunes were admired and covered by a wide variety of artists, from the Everly Brothers to Elvis Costello (whom he actually brought to tears)—and his soothing southern drawl served him well as a solo artist and front man for Jesse Winchester and the Rhythm Aces (the group went on to become the Amazing Rhythm Aces). Winchester was a pioneer of what we now call “roots music,” an eclectic and distinctly American genre.
Jesse was a gentle soul, a man of peaceful convictions who opted to emigrate to Canada when he received his draft notice in 1967. Thankfully, he was allowed back into the U.S. in 1977 when President Carter offered amnesty to those who had evaded the draft during the Vietnam conflict. Winchester relocated permanently to Virginia in 2002.
Jesse Winchester contracted esophageal cancer in 2011 and thought he’d whipped it, but it came back to claim him. He passed away at his home in my own humble burg of Charlottesville as peacefully as he had lived. I will miss him. I still remember reviewing his “Nothing But A Breeze” lp for Cash Box magazine back in ’77—I loved it. To this day, whenever I get a little stressed out, I listen to Jesse teasingly reminding me that “it ain’t nothing but a breeze” and I smile and feel better. Thanks for the memories, Jesse.
Aden Nichols is an independent editor and writer. He is available for print and digital projects: books (academic, narrative/creative nonfiction, memoir, speculative/alternate history, etc.), websites/social media, and business communications. Visit his website (www.LittleFireEditorial.com) or email him at: Aden@LittleFireEditorial.com.