Music – The Flatlanders

The Odessa Tapes, an album released in 2012, is a treasure,  I have greatly enjoyed this album over the past year.

The Flatlanders were three west Texas boys still in their late-twenties, who recorded 14 ‘demo’ songs on an Ampex 3-track in Odessa, Texas in ’72.  After being discarded for 40 years, the tapes were recently re-discovered.  IMG_8740-warm

The Flatlanders later released other albums and pursued individual careers.  But this seminal recording with no-frills arrangements, is now regarded by many as their best work together.  This collection includes 4 previously un-released songs.

The Flatlanders are essentially Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock.  A few other musicians also contribute on their albums.


(Recent image from

Texas Roots, stripped-down Texas Country, Americana, call it what you want.  It’s music of the wide open spaces of Texas.

This recording sounds so natural, simple, fresh and ‘immediate’.  So ‘analogue’.

Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s  meltingly gentle voice and phrasing is marvellous.

This genre of music is also about word-craft – words that talk about rural Texas landscape and of course about more personal things.  It wouldn’t be Country if wasn’t a bit lonesome, but seldom un-optimistic and never deeply melancholic.

The windmills and the water tanks all stand on solid ground
The country mailman mutters as he motors into town

The ocean babe is watered down but these plains are high and dry
And though you’ve seen your share of dreams, you’ve never seen me cry

“You’ve Never Seen Me Cry” – by Jimmie Dale Gilmore & John Reed

All three are now accomplished songwriters but as Joe Ely says about Gilmore’s song-writing, how do you beat an opening line like this?…

Did you ever see Dallas from a DC-9 at night?
Well Dallas is a jewel, oh yeah, Dallas is a beautiful sight….

“Dallas” – by Jimmie Gilmore

“Dallas” is made-up of great lines…

Well, Dallas is a woman who will walk on you when you’re down.
But when you are up, she’s the kind you want to take around.
But Dallas ain’t a woman to help you get your feet on the ground.
Yes Dallas is a woman who will walk on you when you’re down.

Gilmore’s interest in Eastern spiritualism too, is an added and interesting dimension – the term ‘metaphysical cowboy’ has already been coined.

(Jimmie Dale Gilmore interview and singing “Dallas” in concert in Norway)

No question, one of my favourite albums, over the past 12 months.  And more.

2 thoughts on “Music – The Flatlanders

  1. Pingback: Jimmie Dale Gilmore – came Downunder | D a r k L a n t e r n

  2. Pingback: Jimmie Dale Gilmore + Butch Hancock – Auckland, NZ | D a r k L a n t e r n

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