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ARTIST FEATURE - Grammy Winner John McEuen and his new album The Newsman!

GEORGIA RADIO - Grammy winner John McEuen will released his new album, TheNewsman, on March 22nd viaCompass Records. And he joined us to talk about it, plus his incredible music career to date.

In an unprecedented move for McEuen,the album is 11 spoken word tracks, all mini movies with his unique style ofmusic behind each one. From the opening title track, which is a true storyabout a man who sold newspapers and was a tremendous influence on the youngmusician in Los Angeles, to the final cut, “Julie’s Theme,” inspired by JulesVerne telling a friend, in a French cemetery, about his recently deceased youngwife, McEuen presents an album filled with stories that will inspire andperhaps bring a tear to your eye.

The different tracks on the album rage from “Killed at theFord,” a Civil War-era poem that tells of the death of a young soldier as heand friends go to meet a picket-guard by a ford. Although no trouble is expected, a shot isfired from the woods and the young man is dead. Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellowdoesn’t end the poem there, but relates how it affects the young man’s familyat home. “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” one of the most famous poemswritten by Robert Service, was published in 1907. It is told from theperspective of the man who cremates the prospector who froze to death in theYukon while searching for gold.

The Stephen Vincent Benét poem “The Mountain Whippoorwill”was published in 1925. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band released it on their album“Stars & Striped Forever” in 1974.

“Fly Trouble” is a Hank Williams Sr. classic from 1949, and oneof “talking blues” numbers that McEuen has recited many times over the pastyears.

“Old Rivers” was written by Cliff Crofford andreleased by Walter Brennan in 1963, while Thomas Monroe wrote “Nui Ba Den”while he was in Vietnam in 1968. More recent writings are “Pineapple John” byJohn Carter Cash, Hans Olson’s “I’ll Be Glad When I Run Out Of Gas” andThaddeus Bryant’s “Red Clay.”

“I have been around the world playing music and collectingstories for… a long time,” McEuen acknowledges. “As a teenager, well beforeNitty Gritty Dirt Band, I loved Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man.Before I started playing I must have recited “Ya Got Trouble”2,000times! Later, when performing became part of the life I picked, every now andthen I would do one of these ‘stories’ (often a Hank Williams talking blues) onstage, always happy about how well they went over.

“I did The Mountain Whippoorwill for many years with theearly Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Then, another story would come along, be learned,and ‘filed away’ for a future date. ‘The stories’ soon tired of waiting to ‘getdone’.

“So, I did them.”

McEuen credits work he has done on film scores as a majorinfluence on this album. He especially credits Tommy Lee Jones, who along with SissySpacek starred in “Good Ole Boys,” for which he did the soundtrack.

“At this point of my career, film score work (14 cool scores)gave me the experience of putting background music with words and picture,without getting ‘in the way’ with music,” McEuen says. “I learned from TommyLee Jones, while I was doing a score for him, that when someone says ‘Hey,that’s a great score going on there,’ the music person has failed to supportthe picture. You can’t let the music dominate, it has to support what’shappening.’ So it sometimes is with spoken word. This album is a soundtrack forfilms not yet made.”

McEuen says that watching the Tom Hanks film News of theWorld made him finish this album. “I feel like that character, having toread the news to people who have not yet heard it. And, my first ‘song’, thetitle cut, was about that type of fellow in a way, and hisstory had tobe told.

“I find in this final year of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, this albumcomes in a good space. That was a great 50-year run for me, and now that it hasrun its course, it’s time for The Newsman!

“I look forward to going out and telling people about those 50years that impacted so many, especially me, playing some new music, andthrowing a few of these stories in along the way.”

McEuen believes these spoken word offerings can fit on radio.“It is my suggestion that programmers add one of these cuts in between othermusic they are playing, finding styles that fit each – as they are eachdifferent. Listening to The Newsman from top to bottom is a lot to askof anyone! I look forward to seeing what people program with various cuts.”



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