David Olney

Part of David Olney's genius, and it is genius, is that he takes familiar situations like the sinking of the Titanic and looks at them from a new point of view, in this case that of the iceberg. ("Come to me, Titanic," it beckons.) In his "Robert Ford and Jesse James," Olney theorizes that Ford shot his friend in the back not because Ford was, as the received wisdom has it, "a dirty coward," but because James was simply an asshole. Olney can also create fictional characters as lively as those in any novel, and he's no hack when it comes to love songs, either. Live, Olney is noted for his Ginsu-sharp self-deprecating sense of humor. While Emmylou Harris has recorded two of his songs ("Deeper Well" and "Jerusalem Tomorrow") and Toni Price one (the Gwil Owen co-write "Measure for Measure"), the Rhode Island-born Nashville resident is still one of the best-kept secrets in American songwriting history. Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and John Prine (all of whom have guested on Olney albums) are in on the conspiracy. You should be too.


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