The Essential Gary Stewart

The Essential Gary Stewart

Gary Stewart disregarded the macho posturing of the ‘70s and created songs that embodied the worry, despair, and self-pity that had defined country music since the days of Jimmie Rodgers. His signature song, “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” has become a barroom staple, buts its punch-line title and sing-along refrain tend to obscure the desperation of the verses: “I’m not weak, I tell myself / I stay because I’m strong / The truth is, I’m not man enough / To stop her from doing me wrong.” The Essential Gary Stewart contains all of his definitive singles, most of which Stewart wrote himself, and all of which he sang in a voice that was as intense and unstable as the man behind it. By the early ‘80s, Stewart’s career was derailed by his incompatibility with the Nashville music machine and a mounting series of personal problems. After being coaxed from the shadows for a trio of uneven comeback album in the late ‘80s/ early ‘90s, Stewart retreated to the honky-tonk circuit before eventually ending his own life following the death of his wife in 2003. The Essential Gary Stewart plays like a haunted jukebox, the loneliness and regret of Stewart’s music bringing to strangers the comfort that forever eluded its creator.

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