Mickey Newbury

After All These Years

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After All These Years Review

by Thom Jurek

After All These Years is completely different in content and production from its predecessor The Sailor. While "The Sailor" is a classic seafaring tragedy worthy of a film, "Song of Sorrow" and "Let's Say Goodbye One More Time" are both broken love songs, one in the aftermath of an affair and one at the moment of its breaking point. What they have to do with each other is only in Newbury's mind, but it works. Somehow from the vastness of the sea expressed in the suite's first song to the individual sitting alone in a room at night staring at a clock, we find the spectrum of human regret and grief. These songs -- most of them country songs although there is a strangely wonderful country-rock ballad called "Truly Blue" -- reveal for the first time Newbury's sense that he may have wasted his career. Truth be told, he may have been difficult to work with, but Nashville -- that great eater of talent -- never gave him a chance, considering him a songwriter rather than a recording artist. Evidence is on the waltz "That Was the Way It Was Then," a nostalgic lament for the 1950s. Never issued as a single, this track was later a hit for no less than three other artists and recorded by perhaps a dozen, yet none of them came close to the emotional depth of Newbury's version. Other standouts include "I Still Love You (After All These Years)," an astonishingly sincere non-corny homage to Newbury's parents. There is also the Dave Loggins-styled vocal on "Over the Mountain," co-written with Joe Henry, who was just beginning his career when this record was made, and wanted to be a country songwriter!

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