Mickey Newbury Looks Like Rain on LP
Mickey Newbury was a songwriter's songwriter at the dawning of the era of the singer-songwriter, yet he was also an unknown name on the Billboard charts. Newbury found early writing success in Nashville, enabling him to pave the way for his friends and contemporaries like Kris Kristofferson, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and David Allen Coe. Even to this day, Newbury continues to influence the most championed songwriters.
His songs have been recorded nearly 1400 times by more than 1000 performers including Johnny Cash, Scott Walker, Ray Charles, Joan Baez, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, the Box Tops, Bonnie ‘Prince' Billy and Nick Cave. He is the only songwriter ever to have number one hits (with different songs) in the pop, country, R&B and easy listening charts within the space of one year (and three of those songs were in the charts simultaneously).
But Mickey Newbury himself was by far the best interpreter of his own songs. 1969's Looks Like Rain was the artistic breakthrough that Mickey knew he had coming. Songs stretched to lengths that weren't radio-friendly, but represented flowing states of mind while discrete overdubs placed in the mix provided faraway twinkles and ripples analogous to the lyrics, marking the album's path and the listener's journey.
When it was done, Mercury didn't like or understand what they heard, but they put it out without complaint – and without much enthusiasm either, and the sales reflected it. At least they put it out. Forty-plus years later, Looks Like Rain is Mickey Newbury's masterpiece. The impact it made on those who listened led Newbury to his next label, Elektra Records, whose name in folk and rock circles was one of the hippest. Here, he was finally among people who understood his appeal and could pitch it across genre lines.