People who have never heard Delbert McClinton and people who love Delbert McClinton.
I just finished reading a recent book “One of the Fortunate Few” about the live and (hard) times of Texas’ most loved sons, Delbert McClinton. I was struck by his commitment to his music – in the face of a life that seemed to offer a considerable amount of pain and disappointment. When someone says “paying his dues” when it comes to Delbert, that’s the understatement of the year.
I would say my biggest influence in terms of my sound is from Delbert McClinton. When I was young I tried to sing like him – you can’t. Don’t even try it. (Delbert would tell you to “sing like yourself”). His voice always seems to be on the edge of blowing out after a weekend whiskey and cigarette binge as he powers through genres ranging from country to funk – but it never blows. That voice bears the scars of growing up in the 50’s and the wear and tear of hard-gigging bands during the 60’s until now – he is still on the road and sounding terrific.
I would not know of his story but for this book from Diana Finlay Hendrix. She made it happen. Delbert’s Hero’s Journey isn’t unfamiliar if you have contact with the music business. Low wages, unrelenting travel and family issues on the road can make someone question if they are doing the right thing. Are they good enough? Will the break come?
Based on this read, none of that seemed to matter to Delbert. He wasn’t driven by the music or the fame. It was the music. When I mentioned jump blues to him he visibly was excited and proclaimed to be his favorite genre. Any small amount of listening to his work over the last 20 years makes that a fairly obvious statement but it was cool to hear it from the Source himself.
So what kind of person are you? Have you heard Delbert?
Just do a search on YouTube for “Delbert McClinton” – there is something for everyone. That’s him on the harp too. And don’t get me started on he and Gary Nicholson’s lyrics. Stuff of legends.
Buy the book. If you don’t know this story, you don’t know anything about Texas blues. Great read and style of writing. Very cool pics from the early years with the Yellow Jackets.