Braver Newer World (1996)
Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Much of the vitality still found in 21st-century Rock radiates from an unlikely place: Texas. Austin is the epicenter of this pleasant surprise and Jimmie Dale Gilmore is the cherry inside the surprise.
The result is a country-shaded form of the music, which is fitting because, when all is considered, Rock-N-Roll is deeply rooted in the heartland. But, like rockers nationwide who must navigate the bogs of Pop pap, Texas Country-Rock performers struggle against the drip-drip-drip of formulaic Nashville sap.
“Braver Newer World”
Jimmie Dale Gilmore is a transcendentalist, a mystical cowboy with roots in trail songs, early Country Swing, the Texas Two-Step, Outlaw Country, Hard Rock, experimental production techniques, and inscrutable Eastern and Western philosophies, all gathered in like a flock of colored balloons at a state fair. Gilmore’s a top player with a small, dedicated following, a haunted voice in the same vein as Willie Nelson’s, but with a spiritual urgency that Nelson’s more pop-oriented singing can’t touch.
Warm, wide-open-space guitars introduce “Braver Newer World” at a gallop and carry it through its first section, an ode to the quest for personal freedom.
Tell me now that you know how
To greet the dawn each day
Fearless and unfettered, stand
Before the sun and pray
There’s no controversy
Let silence judge your plea
For justice or for mercy
They both will set you free
It’s a braver, newer world you’ve found
Rolling ’round and ’round
and ’round and ’round
It’s a braver, newer world you’ve found
The music grows more intimate, though contradictorily it seems to leave the Earth and ascend into some sort of futuristic heaven with glittering painted skies, tumbleweeds of chrome filaments, everything more acutely in focus.
An ineffably beautiful, short break filled with the same ghost-rider rhythms, a stirring pedal steel guitar, resonant crunching electric guitar, is comparable to the work Crazy Horse has done with Neil Young. But the mid-song break is only a promise of more to come. The return to the lyrics takes the ideas in the song to a higher high.
It is a plea, an instructional manual to listeners that asks us to heed our inner lives and to seek out the good will that Gilmore believes resides somewhere in us all.
Teach me now that you know how
To learn the learner’s art
Open with the master’s myth
And play with all your heart
Listen to your singing
Love will be your voice
The gift that you are bringing
Is all for all, your choice
A 55-second instrumental outro ends this glimmering piece of western-style Americana. The Marlborough Man, Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott, Neil Young, The Sons Of The Pioneers, Johnny Cash, The Shadows’ “Western Guitar,” and many other elements come together to form a new set of musical molecules.
“Ghost Riders In The Sky” – The Highwaymen with Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson
“Western Guitars” – The Shadows
Fuzztone, feedback, the wavering whine of trucks on far-off desert highways hover in the shimmering heat that reflects off “Braver Newer World.” An off-the-yellow-brick-road Heavy Metal reveals itself. This is real Country music from the late 20th century addressed to the 21st.
All the songs on the entire album, also called Braver Newer World, but especially the title track, are lonesome signposts, half-weathered, wind-polished, sitting in a futuristic landscape. They are a challenge to the “lite” music brewed in Nashville, on American Idol, and the self-serving, self-satisfied Country awards shows. It’s a song for a new age, although Jimmie Dale may just be one of those wandering prophet-poets who lives and dies mostly without much honor in his own land.
- Jimmie Dale Gilmore said about his influences: “Alan Watts and the Beats were influences. Once I played a benefit for Tibet House that was organized by Robert Thurman. Alan Ginsburg was there as well. We became friends. The other Beat poet who is an influence is Gary Snyder. His poetry really influenced me. I think we still feel the influence of all of the Beats. They really shifted our culture in a good way.”
- Gilmore found his three minutes of fame in a short scene in The Big Lebowski. Talking about it some years later, he said “I tell you, as far as just sheer numbers, I’m known by a lot more people for that than for being a musician. It’s really true. It’s just the strangest thing. I love that movie and I loved all the people that worked on it. But it is a very strange, unexpected phenomenon.”