Mickey Newbury “Looks Like Rain”

Looks Like Rain

Mickey Newbury’s 1969 release Looks Like Rain is one of the best singer songwriter country folk albums ever. It’s that rare thing of beauty, a perfect album, and could also be considered the outlaw movement’s very own Astral Weeks. Looks Like Rain is more of a folk record than Newbury’s later lps and similar to the Tim Hardin, Tim Buckley, Townes Van Zandt, and Fred Neil confessionals.

This highly desirable lp occasionally pops up on ebay though it’s somewhat hard to get and was recently reissued on cd (1998-) as part of the Mickey Newbury Collection from Mountain Retreat (box set). Newbury along with contemporaries Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson stayed true to C&W’s traditions while adding a unique, sophisticated spin on songwriting and an emotional reach that was new to the music. Newbury’s importance to the world of Americana is still strong and deeply felt, and Looks Like Rain would be known as his first major work (his debut lp is solid and worth owning though more of a country baroque psych lp!).

One song off the above album, T. Total Tommy, clearly had commercial potential with delicate harpsichord and a catchy chorus. Each song is linked by the sound of rain and many of these tracks have clever arrangements and brilliant studio effects. The chimes and electric guitar on Write A Song A Song create an intimate atmosphere that is peerless. This is a quiet album for sure, a very personal statement that finds Newbury in superb voice, writing excellent lyrics and sounding down and out. I Don’t Think About Her No More, 33rd of August, and San Fransisco Mabel Joy are country folk masterpieces of the highest order. Every detail and nuance is so precise and well thought out, everything from the sitars that grace Mabel Joy to the distorted vocals that briefly highlight 33rd of August. The latter song has gorgeous Newbury vocals that are similar to Happy Sad era Tim Buckley.

While the studio production is a rare work of genuis and will catch your ear first, Looks Like Rain’s stories will eventually penetrate your heart and soul. It’s a very deep lp and Newbury’s tales speak of freedom, death, depression, failure, love, and happiness. This is definitely a must for country and folk fans and will proudly stand next to any of the best singer songwriter albums you care to name.

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“I Don’t Think Much About Her No More”

[ Buy @ MickeyNewbury.com | Search @ eBay ]

“An American Trilogy” Mickey Newbury

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  • Jason,

    Thanks for the link over to my TVZ post. It was expired, but I put the tracks back up. (I don’t want your readers to leave disappointed.) Great post, by the way. I was expecting to see some Newberry on here …


  • Stranger

    Excellent post, Jason. Shame it’s only available as part of that pricey box set…

    like those massive Bear Family collections…if i only had the cash for those Louvin bros, Hank Snow, etc…100 plus song sets…

  • Jason

    Thanks Stranger, I bought the box set last winter for like $50 – brand new off ebay. But elsewhere it’s much more expensive but worth getting as it includes all his classic albums. Those bear family box sets are good but like you said expensive and somewhat hard to come by. I have a great single bear family disc of Jerry Lee Lewis live in the mid 60’s with the Nashville Teens backing him – great live set!

  • kyle

    just a normal townes fan, and thankfully came across this dude

  • Brendan

    I urge all Townes fans to get their hands on this record without delay.

  • lonepine

    great review, i got into this album a little over a year ago and i remembering coming across this review in several months i spent listening to no one but Mickey. i understood the Astral Weeks correlation, but didn’t really sense the psychic connection until I hear Caetano Veloso’s 1971 album today. 1971 sounds like the link between Astral Weeks and Looks Like Rain. could you recommend any other albums that flow and fall together as deep and magically as these? i guess “concept record” is the word for it, but these three are the most successful i’ve ever heard at it and i don’t really think of them as concept records.

  • Thanks for all the kind words about the late Mickey Newbury, who was my dad. I just wanted to let you know that each album from the Mickey Newbury Collection will be available for individual digital download, very shortly. I’m working with the webmaster at our CD store to get them up this week, starting with “Looks Like Rain”.

    With ten(all ten) of his albums, that were put out by major record labels, included in the boxset, $100.00 is a bargin. I do understand that many people may not have that kind of cash to spend all at once. The digital downloads will be $10.00 a piece.

    This was an excellent review! It’s a great feeling to see new Mickey Newbury fans pop up. Thank you for spreading the word.

  • katherine

    chris, your fathers music has blessed and enriched me for many years. so glad you are out there keeping the flame. katherine

  • lonepine

    fun trivia btw: “the studio production is a rare work of genuis” but is actually a garage recording (Wayne Moss’s Cinderella Sound where also John Hartford recorded Mark Twang) done on four tracks~ Mickey said he first added rain sounds because it helped hide the tape hiss. he said there are parts on the album that sound like rain, but in reality is just tape hiss.
    Cinderella Sound is just outside of Nashville, so this really is one of the first “Outlaw” recordings, though Mickey scoffed at that term

  • Tormod Reiersen

    Great review! I bought my first Mickey Newbury CD’s (”A long Road Home’ and ‘Frisco Mabel Joy’) four years ago. They did not do to much for me in the beginning, but after a while I found myself playing them more and more. One year ago I bought It Might as well be the Moon and was absolutely hooked. My last Newbury investment was the Collection and I do think I by now have all the avaliable stuff at Mickey newbury.com and amazon. My sister in law who is living with u,s are also playing his records, especially Lulled by the Moonlight. It is hard to understand how I was able to live my first 35 years without this music!

  • Yope

    Looks Like Rain and more of his great classical albums are now available for download for US$ 10.00 from the official lMickey Newbury website.

  • larry moore

    Each year we have a gathering of fans and singer/ songwriters to honor Mickey. A few hundred , from around the world,show up and it’s non stop for three days. Many people that you’ve never heard of but you know their music and songs that you’ve listened to for years.

    This year is the tenth anniversary of The Gathering and is getting bigger all the time. The final contracts were signed this week and will be held in Houston, Texas. Only six miles from the airport and hotel shuttle buses to get you there and back. Go to Mickey Newbury.com for details. The home page will show up. click on the ” Front Porch” at the top of the page, then once on the front porch click on the little lamp shade in the top right hand corner, which will take you to the back porch. There you will see choices of “open topic” and ” Gathering X” click on that and you can find information about the gathering that is to be held , starting June 23rd at Dosey Doe’s Just down the interstate. There will be constant performances at the hotel and at Dosey Doe’s. Between the shuttle busses and the cars there, it shouldn’t be any trouble getting form one place to another and they are both on the same side of the feeder road to Interstate 45. Willie Nelsons next cd is supposed to be made up of only Newbury songs. C.W. Colt, who among other things, broadcast the entire gathering by world wide web on his web site. Last week he was performing with Willie Nelson and ,I think, Krisstofferson and said he was going to try to get them there. Writers and performers from around the world show up. It would be great for Willie to Debut his cd there. We’ve already expanded the days, of the gathering once, but we have blocked rooms at the hotel for a week, from Monday the 21 thru Sunday the 27th. It will be one of those heart felt moments that you’ll remember forever. Anyone is welcome and once you get there….. there are no strangers. From the top people in the industry down to….. well….. me, are all family.

    There are other attractions around the area that you might want to visit during your stay.

    A typical day is breakfast and around 11-11:30 am, a couple of hours of performances by singers and song writers then another afternoon performance by some different people, then a night performance by several artist untill 11:00 pm and then the real fun starts when people gather in different rooms or areas and have guitar pulls until……. sometimes until the sun comes up. I don’t know how we do it but just the love of Mickey’s music and each other just keep us going.

    If you decide to make reservations, be sure and tell them that you are with the Mickey Newbury Gathering and get the cheaper rate.

    Hope to see you there.

  • Bob Ferguson

    Mickey was a good man and loyal friend.

  • been listening to the MIck for awhile now, this album is surely one of his best

  • Bill Black

    Mickey was a lovely man and a beautiful singer/writer. A one and only unique guy! So glad I got to meet him. His music and he are one.

  • Paloma

    I own Looks Like Rain and Harlequin . . . got them when an LP Warehouse in Cincinnati, Ohio was getting rid of LPs as the latest technology was taking over, I think it was cassette tapes. They were in a bin for maybe $1.99 . . . they are the most valuable items I own . . . and I own a ranch right over the Eagle Ford Shale.

  • Rossco

    I have held Mickey Mewburys Album :Live at Montezuma Hall/Looks like Rain as one of my most valued possessions for over 30 years
    I bought it in 1975 and the songs in it are still as lovely as they were when I purchased the album.The album is still in perfect nick.
    I am a Jazz and blues man by nature but I have to concur the album is one of the best country folk albums ever produced and I do not say that lightly.

    His wording and articualtion perfectly phrased with a deep meaning to each song that the listener can identify with which is why it is such an outstanding album.
    San Fransisco Mabel Joy is one of my favourites even after 30 years.

    I have often wondered why he was such an underrated artist, and thought that maybe I had it wrong ,but I now know I was just fortunate to take the time in 1975 to listen to it in the record shop and I have treasured it ever since
    Thanks MIcky

  • Ian

    Btw Drag City reissued a bunch of albums, good news indeed

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