Keith Carter/Rounder Records
Earlier in his career, Jimmie Dale Gilmore was a member of the band The Flatlanders.
Earlier in his career, Jimmie Dale Gilmore was a member of the band The Flatlanders. Keith Carter/Rounder Records
This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 23, 2005.
"[Jimmie Dale Gilmore's] voice would make even Hank Williams cry," Nicholas Dawidoff once wrote in The New York Times Magazine.
Gilmore, a singer from West Texas, writes songs that would be described as alternative country. But he sings honky-tonk country classics on his album Come on Back , which he discussed in a 2005 interview with Terry Gross.
The album, a tribute to Gilmore's late father, contains versions of his father's favorite songs like "Walkin' the Floor Over You" and "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down."
"[Pick Me Up] represents an entire style that I really associate with [my father]," explained Gilmore. "It's honky-tonk dance music ... and it is one particular [song] he really loved. I have this one memory of him with his head tossed back and his eyes closed just grinning when this song came on."
In addition to his solo albums, Gilmore records with the band The Flatlanders, which includes Gilmore's fellow West Texas musicians Joe Ely and Butch Hancock. He played the character Smokey in the 1998 movie, The Big Lebowski.
On being exposed to honky tonk from a young age
"From my earliest memories, that music was always pervasive. It was radio. We didn't have a phonograph until I was actually in high school. But we always had the radio going. And my dad played his guitar along with the radio, or sometimes with bands for dances."
On Johnny Cash
"I may have heard a few of his recordings of his on the radio when I was very young, but my first real memory of it was my dad took my sister and I to see Johnny Cash with Elvis Presley. I was about 12 and I've often said that I suspect that that night completely determined the rest of my — I think it was one of those places where a little deflection happened. I loved that music so much. I loved both of them. My sister has this memory — she remembers talking on the way home from the thing that night, that she loved Elvis the most and that I loved Johnny Cash. The way I remember it is I loved both of them so much. It was just the best music I'd ever heard in the world and I already loved music."