For Buddy Miller

February 23, 2009

Take note, country music fans: Buddy Miller has been hospitalized after a massive heart attack late last week.  His triple-bypass surgery is said to have been a success, but his condition remains serious.  He is just 56 years old.  Let us hope that God grants him many more years.

I am partial to him.  Never mind his string of fantastic solo albums — bookended by Your Love and Other Lies (1995) and Universal United House of Prayer (2004), which are two of the best country albums you’re ever likely to hear — I owe him a debt of thanks for that night, four or five years ago at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, when he gave me one of the great concerts of my life.  The man’s voice is as big as a thundercloud (what? he needs a microphone?) and his way with a guitar is a wonder to behold.  At a time when Nashville has been churning out country-flavoured pop — Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and so forth — Buddy has done his part to sustain the gutsy, red-blooded, deep-souled country music of yore.  He is also reputed to be one of the most amiable, genuinely likable people in the business.  At that memorable concert he was giving away CDs to anyone who would sign up to support a child through WorldVision.

He and his wife Julie — a seriously talented singer and songwriter in her own right, and Buddy’s long-standing musical collaborator — have a new album (Written in Chalk) coming out in early March.  On it, they are joined by some of the people with whom they have worked over the past decade: Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant, Patty Griffin.  If you’re curious about his music, you could do much worse than pick up a copy.  I am sure, given what has befallen them, that they could use the support.  Say a prayer for them too, if you’re so constituted.  We really don’t want to lose this man.

**

There is a generous collection of clips from their albums at their web site.  There isn’t much available in the way of quality video.  Here’s an unnamed ballad that has, to my knowledge, never been released on record:

And here is an interview (8 min.) with Buddy playing songs from the upcoming album.

**
(Hat-tip to Andy Whitman for bringing Buddy’s heart attack to my attention.)

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