10 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though they were recorded in 2007, these songs were written by Ely between 1968 and 1973, when he was in his early twenties. Some of them have surfaced since then (“Time for Travelin’” was on 1979’s Down On the Drag and “Silver City” was on 1987’s Lord of the Highway), but this body of work provides a missing link in the genealogy of the Ely and the Flatlanders. The songs are delivered with minimal, acoustic-based accompaniment (no drums), which is just right for “Indian Cowboy,” “Cloister Mountain” and “Wounded Knee” which are essentially folk songs in the tradition of Woody Guthrie. While the young Ely was clearly in awe of Guthrie and Bob Dylan, it's striking to note the maturity of “I Know Will Never Be Mine” and “Santa Rosa/St. Augustine.” Still, it's impossible to underestimate the authority vested in these old songs by Ely’s long-aged vocals. The music is at once simple and profound — the essence of folk music. Ely was an ambitious writer, but there is equivalent grace in “Windy Windy Windy,” which has the uncluttered charm of something by Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Though they were recorded in 2007, these songs were written by Ely between 1968 and 1973, when he was in his early twenties. Some of them have surfaced since then (“Time for Travelin’” was on 1979’s Down On the Drag and “Silver City” was on 1987’s Lord of the Highway), but this body of work provides a missing link in the genealogy of the Ely and the Flatlanders. The songs are delivered with minimal, acoustic-based accompaniment (no drums), which is just right for “Indian Cowboy,” “Cloister Mountain” and “Wounded Knee” which are essentially folk songs in the tradition of Woody Guthrie. While the young Ely was clearly in awe of Guthrie and Bob Dylan, it's striking to note the maturity of “I Know Will Never Be Mine” and “Santa Rosa/St. Augustine.” Still, it's impossible to underestimate the authority vested in these old songs by Ely’s long-aged vocals. The music is at once simple and profound — the essence of folk music. Ely was an ambitious writer, but there is equivalent grace in “Windy Windy Windy,” which has the uncluttered charm of something by Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

Texfan ,

Silver & Gold

"Silver City" is a collection of Joe Ely songs all written in the years leading up to his first teaming with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock as the Flatlanders — and even longer before Ely's rise as Texas' answer to Bruce Springsteen. He's recorded a couple of these songs (including the title track) before on earlier albums, but most of them are brand "new" even to veteran Ely fans. And what a treasure trove it is! If you want to hear Ely rockin', his other new album — "Happy Songs From Rattlesnake Gulch" — is the way to go. But this set of solo acoustic recordings proves he can be just as captivating with no more firepower than a great song. To wit: "Silver City," "Indian Cowboy," "Wounded Knee" and especially "I Know Will Never Be Mine." And if "Drivin' 'Cross Russia" isn't the funniest/funnest song he's ever written, well, then I dunno what's what.

Raye ,

silver city

Priceless songs by one of the most underated folk heroes of our time! Love it!

raderred ,

Great album showcasing his great songwriting ability

This is a very accessible album for those unfamiliar with Joe Ely, one of our greatest and most underrated singer-songwriters, as well as an instant classic for his established fans. This is an excellent collection of songs written during and about his early years, and performed acoustically as previously mentioned. "Silver City" is a song about hitching rides on trains to New York City with his friend after high school. This and his other new, more rock-oriented album "Happy Songs from Rattlesnake Gulch" are companions to his book "Bonfire of Roadmaps", and all of these stem from his journal entries from the past decades on the road.

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