Mickey Newbury

Along with fellow songwriters such as Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Tom T. Hall, Mickey Newbury helped revolutionize country music in the 1960s and '70s by bringing new, broader musical influences as well as a frank, emotional depth to the music -- while at the same time never losing respect for tradition. Newbury infused his country music with haunting beauty and spiritual melancholy, creating an impressive collection of introspective, emotionally complex songs that are more spiritual cousins of the work of Leonard Cohen than that of Roy Acuff. (Newbury, in fact, calls himself a folksinger and has never toured with a band, preferring the ambience of a quiet coffeehouse.) The fact that many of his songs became hits for singers from Don Gibson to Elvis Presley was proof that the industry and the public were hungry for a change. Like many of his generation, however -- such as his friend Townes Van Zandt -- Newbury was better known as a songwriter than as a singer. Newbury recorded 15 albums over a nearly 30-year period -- right up to 1996's Lulled by the Moonlight, a limited-edition release sold by mail order -- but his soft, beautiful tenor voice rarely reached the charts.