Delbert McClinton

Delbert McClinton
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The singers who last – blues bards, country music storytellers and true jazz vocalists – tell stories of real life: loss, longing, fulfillment, and the irrepressible determination to keep on keeping on. They also have a saving wit, like in the venerable blues lyric: “I’m gonna lay my head on the railroad track – and when the train comes, I’m gonna yank it back.” Delbert McClinton embodies these qualities of what I call the life force of music – as in this new session, “Cost of Living,” on which he wrote or co-wrote all of these songs of what he calls “days in the life.” (The one exception is Jimmy Reed’s “I’ll Change My Style.” In a Wall Street Journal article I wrote about him years ago, “Lone Star Troubadour,” I told of the first time I heard him singing in a club, “the blues, rhythm and blues, rock and honky-tonk country songs for nearly two hours without stopping” and without repeating himself. It’s that infectious energy that courses through these songs and brings the listener back to his or her own memories and desires. And Delbert’s music reverberates with a life worth living, as in the song, “I Had a Real Good Time” – with its subtext, “You learn a lot more about life, from the things you’re not supposed to do.” In “I’ll Change My Style” and “Your Memory Me and the Blues,” there is what can be called “soul music” that transcends the color categories in the rainbow of music that is the American legacy of song. Born in Lubbock, Texas and growing up in Fort Worth, Delbert, as I’ve written in a profile of him, “became immersed in a whirl of Western swing, blues, jazz, rock, and country sounds that abounded in dance halls and honky tonks there.” He’s not only not forgotten his multi-colored roots and rhythms, but he joyfully regenerates them on the road, including honky tonks. When I interviewed him for these notes, he told me, with prideful pleasure, of recently playing “the oldest continuing honky tonk in Texas,” Gruene Hall, located between Austin and San Antonio. He added: “It was a great night; everybody was sweating.” The power of his stories – from stomping celebrations of joyous self-surprise to the tenderest regrets of broken loves – comes from his absorption of the interconnected streams of how the American experience is created through the richly idiomatic life stories of all the various racial, ethnic and religious pilgrims who have to echo Woody Guthrie, made this land their land. In that Wall Street Journal article, Delbert told me how he “got lucky” when, in his early twenties, his was the only white band playing for a black promoter at Blue Monday nights in the Skyline Ballroom in Fort Worth: “It was the greatest education I could possibly have had – playing behind my heroes.” (Among them were such blues legends as Lightnin’ Hopkins, Joe Turner, Sonny Boy Williams, Jimmy Reed, B.B. King, and Bobby Blue Bland.) When you get that depth and quality of what Delbert calls “on-the-job training,” it gives you the foundation for what continues to be an international career as a multi-dimensional Lone Star Troubadour. In the 1989 Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, edited by Donald Clarke, there is a concise beginning of Delbert’s evolution to the prominence he enjoys now: “A behind-the-scenes influence for 20 years who finally saw the charts in the ‘80’s. Deeply influenced by the blues, picked up tips from black blues harp (harmonica) players, played in clubs from age 15 in many obscure bands; early records were among the first by white artists to be played on local black stations…In the United Kingdom, taught harp to a young northern group, subsequently heard the fruits on the Beatles’ first single, ‘Love Me Do’… He’ll be back again and again; the musicians all know who he is.” So do listeners in many parts of the globe. What keeps Delbert coming back again and again is vividly illustrated in this set, Cost Of Living. He is, for instance, a master singer of forever missed fulfillment (“Kiss Her Once for Me”). And he describes scenes from last-chance neighborhoods and saloons like an unforgettable novelist as in “Midnight Communion:” “God knows it’s not the best place to lay my burden down, but someone’s always good for one more round.” And from a previous Delbert McClinton New West storybook, Nothing Personal, I cannot forget a classic song of an utterly shattered love affair, “When Rita Leaves:” After Rita left, taking “all her clothes, but one red dress, the one she knows I like best,” Rita rode off into the night with her no longer lover’s cherished 1964 sky blue ragtop Mustang, and having “bought some gas and laid the top down, she burned that pony to the ground on the desert in New Mexico.” At the risk of making Delbert appear pretentious, which Delbert unmistakably is not, he is an authentic American poet of life as it is lived, from the bottom up – like, from Nothing Personal, in the song, “Squeeze Me In,” Delbert McClinton speaks, from the heart, about a woman working overtime all the time, says the man on the outside: “Whoever said it’s a man’s world don’t know what he’s talkin’ about. You got me workin’ ‘round the clock honey, tryin’ to figure you out…You got to make a little time for the good times. So honey can you squeeze me in.” A time capsule so that Americans way beyond us can know what these times were really like – good and bad, exhilarating and deep-in-the-bottle frustrating – that time capsule has got to include Delbert McClinton recordings, including Cost Of Living that’s in your hands now.
Date Venue City State Note
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01/14/2010 - Delbert McClinton rocked the Verizon Theater - Read More
12/10/2009 - Delbert McClinton’s quest is simply to make music, have fun doing it - Read More
10/06/2009 - Let The Good Times Roll - Read More
08/24/2009 - A gem of an album from Delbert McClinton - Read More
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Average Rating : 5              Total Reviews: 15

Delbert McClinton  10/10/2008            
I love Delbert's songs, all of them. He is wonderful in person.
Delbert McClinton  02/16/2008            
Rhino VII
I've seen Delbert McClinton twice. Once in Tulsa, Ok. at the Brady Theater. A great show indeed. Next time in his home state in Austin, Tx. He played at the Broken Spoke Club, I believe, I get confused from trying to figure if it was the Broken Spoken Club or The Continental Club. I believe also that it was on the north side of Austin. Sorry about the long saga. Anyway this one show was very special. Not only did I see Delbert, I saw Albert Collins whom was warming up for DM that night. So I can say I saw the Master of the Telecaster, Mr Collins, and also Delbert on the same stage. When Delbert McClinton came on the first tune out of the bag was Lipstick, Powder, and Paint. Truly a classic. The rest of the set(which was the first set) was killer. After a short break Delbert came back and did Plain Old Makin' Love, another great blues number. If you have never seen Delbert on a stage I highly recommend it. He frontman workmanship is immaculent, not to mention that excellent blusey voice of his. When he belts a slow blues song, you will testify to the great Blues God assuredly. Hit the bricks and get this cd for your collection. It is a must. Oh yeah pick up one of his live cd's too. There will be no regrets. Dig it to the max always.
Delbert McClinton  08/02/2006            
The shirt is ok but what about the sunglasses? That looks like a pair I have.
Delbert McClinton  07/19/2005            
After Delbert and his band rocked my socks off at Gruene Hall, I had to go out and purchase everything he has recorded... well, that is quite a library my fellow Texan has compiled and this talented musician has just hit his stride in my opinion. Keep on rocking Delbert, you are the man!!!
Delbert McClinton  06/04/2005            
Mickey M.
Absolutely the greatest living rock and roll singer in the world. Catch him live and you'll think the rolling stones are an embarassment by comparison.
Delbert McClinton  05/18/2005            
Man these are two of the best records to come out of Texas ever. Delbert has been killin' in honky tonks for years, and the cuts on these two records are the reason why. All the "Texas Music" fans out there who think Pat and all the wannabes are what Texas Music sounds like should check this shit out!
Delbert McClinton  07/21/2003            
ah of west texas
I first saw Delbert open for Willie at the Austin Opry House in 80. I was a freshman in high school and thought he looked greasy but sounded hot. I saw him again about 3 years later and greasy must have looked better to me. His music was still hot. Now I've seen him about6 more times, the last being a few years ago when he played a private wedding party in San Angelo, which I crashed. I thought I might just do the man while he was singing "Everytime I Roll the Dice." He is the king of Roadhouse Blues and an authentic representative of Texas Music. . . in a tremendously sexual way.
Delbert McClinton  01/09/2003            
J. Gonzales
Went to see Delbert in Houston at The Verision Wireless Theater. The place was jumping. Before the night was over several women from the audience joined Delbert on stage to boogie with him. He played about 2 hours. Only wished he would have played 2 more.His band members each have solo albums and we heard some samples from each one. These guys really jam.
Delbert McClinton  10/23/2002            
Another Texan
I have been a devoted follower of Delbert for over 40 years. This Texan is as good as it gets wheather it is performing or writing. His latest album "Room To Breathe" is an example of how excellent this man is.Of course he also has the best band in the business and is the proud winner of 2 grammys.
Delbert McClinton  10/23/2002            
Delbert McClinton
I have been a devoted follower of Delbert for over 40 years. This Texan is as good as it gets wheather it is performing or writing. His latest album "Room To Breathe" is an example of how excellent this man is.Of course he also has the best band in the business and is the proud winner of 2 grammys.
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