If the name Mickey Newberry is not familiar to you, don't feel alone.
Many people who follow music closely never know who the songwriters of the songs they love are. That is because the music industry is primarily a performance medium. Obviously, that is not always true. Carl Sigman wrote a number of songs and has been featured here on BCN as have many others. Search Dueling Hits in the search box above.
There have been numerous other famous composers and teams. However, many of the best songwriters remain unknown to the public. I do not think Mickey Newberry fits into that category but he is less known than some other singer / songwriters.
Born in 1940 he was probably destined for a music career. In 1959, Mickey joined the Air Force and assigned to England for three years. When he returned to the United States, he pursued his dream of being a songwriter. He lived in a '54 Pontiac and traveled around Texas, Tennessee, and Louisiana playing gigs and working on shrimp boats. Many of his songs dip into the human condition and sadness and it may be true that you have to live it in order to write it. His songs have been covered over 1500 times by over 50 artist.
He was probably the architect of country Outlaw movement which included Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and many others. However, he was always the iconoclastic sort. Here is an excerpt from his biography Crystal Stone.
"Mick explained his feelings on the matter to Peter O'Brien, " All this stuff about the new breed of singer/songwriter is just publicity. That aggravates the hell out of me, people who jump on the bandwagon like that...It's just categorizing again, making a new pigeonhole to stick somebody into. You got be be dressed a certain way, you got to be a drinker and hell raiser, cuss and make an ass of yourself, act like a kid. I've told 'em I quit playing cowboys when I grew up. Its show business and it turns me off. For many of us that crap stopped in the sixties or when our children came along". Crystal & Stone on Amazon
Within the music community, he is a legend. Mickey Newberry Official Website I offer four songs here that cover his wide range of music.
A younger Kenny Rogers singing "Just dropped In"
Ronnie Misap sings "The future is just not what is used to be"
While Mickey did not write this next tune, he did arrange it and it may be one of his most remembered / non remembered tunes. Elvis made it more famous with his highly orchestrated version. Here Mickey sings it the way he meant it to be. It is a song of healing with just Mickey, a guitar and a single Violin. According to Joe Ziemer's Newbury memoir Crystal & Stone, Newbury was moved to perform the song - which had been banned in some southern states - as a protest against censorship. The song obviously was not written in Chalk on one of today's college campuses.
Finally, here is his tribute to love gone bad. "Lovers"
Newbury, who battled depression in his life, later reflected, "How many people have listened to my songs and thought, 'He must have a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a pistol in the other.' Well, I don't. I write my sadness."
Kris Kristofferson, who later proclaimed, "I learned more about songwriting from him than any other writer...He was my hero and still is."
He passed away n 2002 from complications of pulmonary fibrosis.
Biography from Wikiepedia
Saving Country Music