Jesse Winchester
  "A few years ago I wrote a book about rock’s best singer/songwriters, and Bob Dylan said to me, 'Have you talked to Jesse Winchester?  You can’t talk about the best songwriters and not include him.' ”   
  • "I knew immediately he was the real thing. Great songwriter, with a very moving vocal sound. Jesse's music stands up today as good as it did then, and I am so proud to have been a part of it." - Robbie Robertson

  • "Jesse's songs were better than 'good', they were as enduring and resonant a group of songs as produced by his early 70s songwriting contemporaries who went on to sell records in the multi-millions" - Elvis Costello

  • “(Jesse's catalog) is an unparalleled and timeless patchwork quilt of finely crafted songs that will endure as the benchmark not only for this generation of songwriters, but all those that follow."  - Jim Della Croce

  • "As underrated a singer as Chet Baker. As underrated a guitarist as Willie Nelson.  A man who held the audience in the palm of his hand without moving an inch. One of the best songwriters on earth."  - Janis Ian

  • “I’m hard-pressed to come up with a more skilled songwriter than Jesse Winchester. Really hard-pressed.”  - John Sebastian

  • “Revered by such artists as Dylan, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Joan Baez, the Everly Brothers, Jimmy Buffett and Elvis Costello, Jesse remained humble and quietly content with his place in music. He had nothing to prove, and he loved and respected his peers and his loyal cadre of fans and admirers.” - Jim Della Croce

  • "Actually, that self-deprecating ingredient to the gourmet meal that is Winchester is a taste essential to his appeal. “Poet” isn’t a word I particularly like to throw around, but there are very few other people in this world more deserving of such a categorization. There was something that separated him from his contemporaries, an amount of levity, an amount of intellect that brought his tales of heartbreak, innocence, youth and romance to life." - Colin McGuire

  • "His songs have a delicate strength and the same quiet dignity that he does. We will miss him terribly when he’s gone but he’s left us a great and enduring legacy.” - Danny O'Keefe

  • “Jesse’s songs always spoke to me like wise and witty old friends. He could write about absolutely any subject with grace and humor, which is something he had in common with Mark Twain. Whenever I saw him perform it struck me that he could get more out of a gut string guitar, his sweet soulful voice and a great tune than anybody on the planet.” - Craig Bickhardt

  • "The performance he gave us that day, before a small studio audience, remains one of the top performances of my life. The audience was in the palm of his hand within seconds." - Mary Sue Twohy

  • "Mr. Winchester, who was one of the most respected singer-songwriters of his generation, recorded more than a dozen albums and had a substantial career as a performer.- renowned for writing and performing intimate, touching songs that evoked his native South." 
    - Washington Post

  • "Every album Jesse made was a gem, each studded with terrific songs." – Michael Tearson

  • "As a singer, Winchester is under-rated. He is always the most intelligent interpreter of his own songs. He has a smooth voice with a broad expressive range, and uses it to great effect on his albums.  -  Throughout all of Winchester’s body of work, perhaps influenced by his decision to move to Canada, there is a deep concern for human decisions and their consequences, with a careful eye on what is lost, as well as what is gained, at each fork in the road. His best songs always treat their characters with dignity, and recognition that there are no easy answers to the human dilemma."–

  • "He wrote songs which reflected exactly the sort of man he was …quiet and sweet and utterly gracious. Aside from those wonderful songs and the sweetest voice ever, he had an unerring moral compass." - Garnet Roberts

  • "Besides his unquestionable gifts as a writer and singer Jesse was a thoughtful man the day he stood up for himself and others by turning his back and walking away from the front lines of bad war knowing he might never see his beloved south again." - Eric Andersen

  • ".. He did this quietly — which is how he always seemed to conduct his life and career.  Winchester wasn’t a strident activist interested in turning his life into a cause, and he never tried to capitalize on his status as a draft resister to further his career.  Without much effort, Winchester surely could have become a symbol of the anti-war movement that swept through the country in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. And it likely would have helped him sell a lot of records in the bargain.  But Winchester never took that step."  - Jon Ferguson

  • "Jesse Winchester was one of the first singer-songwriters I heard when I returned from Vietnam and his music helped re-anchor me. I was aware of his passage to Canada, yet I could hear something in his voice that told me he wasn't afraid and that he wasn't running from anything. There are different kind of warriors in this world and I believe Jesse signed on to an Army of peacekeepers and I love him for that.  And God could he write and sing. I was fortunate to meet him once.  Well done, Jesse!"  ~ Mark Germino

  • "There was a kind of nostalgic quality to what he wrote, but also a kind of presence. Jesse's songs combined the gravity of William Faulker and the levity of Flannery O'Conner. There was a kind of Southernness, a humor and wistfulness, all the sort of great elements of what we consider Southern writing in his work." - Rodney Crowell

  • "Beyond all that, Jesse was a kind and generous human being who wrote and sang with a rare combination of intelligence, humanity, wit and a soulful groove. There was none better." - Happy Traum

  • "One of the most soulful, humble and beautiful songwriters I've ever heard." - Ron Sexsmith

  • Comedian Albert Brooks tweeted a link to Winchester's performance of "Sham A Ling Dong Ding" on Elvis Costello's "Spectacle" program and said "If you watch this and you're not moved you're dead."  Comedian Jerry Seinfeld re-tweeted Brooks' posting to his 2.3 million followers.

  • “He lived at the heart of the human condition and will rank as highly as a writer as Frank Zappa does as a composer.” - Jim Della Croce

  • “He really wanted to write concisely, and his songs were three- or four-minute chunks that you couldn’t take in on a jukebox. And I was always so amazed at how different each song was and how each one really expressed a new idea." - John Sebastian

  • “He was doggedly determined to make his songs count. He often took years to complete projects to his own exacting standards.” - Jim Della Croce

  • "I think he was as close to the portal of the soul as anyone I’ve ever seen,” Mark Sustic

  • When I learned of his death, I was not alone in feeling suddenly bereft, as if I had lost a dear friend. This struck me as both weird and wonderful, given I’d seen him in concert only once and never had any other interaction with him over the years. But that statement misleads, ignoring as it does the intense and repeated interactions that take place between singer and listener, writer and reader, painter and viewer, in a kind of intimate dance that defies all conventions of “relationship” as we know it. With an artist who regularly bares his soul and invites you along as Jesse did, the “relationship” one develops with him or her is palpable and life-enhancing, and its loss is real and acute.  - Andrew Hidas

  • The world is a little less gentle and a little less sweet…such is the loss of Jesse Winchester.  - Rudy Spano

  •  “Thank you Jesse Winchester. You will be missed." - Joan Baez

  • "Godspeed to gentle soul and precious friend, Jesse Winchester." - Jerry Douglas

  • Jesse was one of the most wonderful artists that we have ever had the pleasure to work with.  He was always grateful and appreciative, a gentleman in every way.  We will miss you Jesse.
     - Jim Mussleman and Alan Edwards (Appleseed)

  • He was as good at the end of his life as he was at the beginning. He has a quality record across his body of work that you wouldn't bring up a lot of peers in the same category. Everybody's best work is pretty good, but whatever you would deem to be Jesse's least significant work is really good. - Mac McAnally

  • “We both knew it was going to be his final album. We began to record them while he was in remission. But as we continued to work on the project, the cancer came back and it became more obvious what was going on. By the end he was pretty weak, but still smiling. He was a shining example of how to carry on and then cease to. Even in death he was a role model.” ~ Mac McAnally

  • "Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main," John Donne wrote. "If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less." As is Memphis now, and Montreal; our particular continent, with its keen knack for taking genius for granted until its departure. RIP Jesse. We'll still be leaning in.  - Mark Smith


  • Winchester's first appearance in the U.S., was a sold out performance in Burlington, Vermont, on April 21, 1977. Rolling Stone magazine covered the event coining the phrase "the Greatest Voice of the Decade" to describe Winchester's vocal style.

  • "A few years ago I wrote a book about rock’s best singer/songwriters, and Bob Dylan said to me “Have you talked to Jesse Winchester?  You can’t talk about the best songwriters and not include him.”  ...  A while later I was having dinner with T-Bone Burnett, and he said, “Is Jesse Winchester in your book?  He’s really one of the greats.”  Elvis Costello later said the same thing.  Don Henley once called  Winchester the new Stephen Foster.....(Bernie) "Taupin told Rolling Stone, that he dreamed of someday writing a song as perfect as Winchester’s “Yankee Lady." ~ Bill Flanagan



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