The sad news about Jimmy LaFave´s death reached us this week. We already knew about his fight with terminal cancer. He died only 61 years old, a few days after a farewell concert with many of his friends, family, fans and fellow singers and songwriters. In a very touching moment he led the crowd in a version of “Goodnight, Irene”.
Jimmy was born in Texas in 1955, a singer/songwriter in his own right, but I know him mostly through is unique, warm and tender interpretations of other songwriters songs. His work with the songs of Bob Dylan´s songs spans all through his career, and his versions stands firmly between the best there is. Lucinda Williams said it perfectly like this: “Jimmy LaFave’s songs move me ’cause he sings them with grit, passion, and uncommon beauty.”
He made a long string of albums, the first in the seventies, the last was released in 2015. LaFave lived in Oklahoma for many years and was one of Woody Guthrie´s most heartfelt followers. In Oklahoma he made his own kind of ´red dirt music´with friends and followers.
He visited Austin City Limits in 1996 – a beautiful performance.
Jimmy´s choice of cover versions were very often exquisite in both choice and performance. That is certainly true of his Bob Dylan covers, Jimmy was one of the finest interpreters of those songs there is. A really great singer himself, he also was a great fan of Bob Dylan as a singer: “I think Dylan is one of the greatest vocalists ever. His phrasing is as good as Frank Sinatra; he’s a master.”
Here is a little bouquet of some of Jimmy´s Bob Dylan covers. Full of tenderness and love.
A really wonderful version of one of Dylan´s most beautiful ballads, even not so well known. Jimmy makes it his own.
Just a month before he died he made this beautiful version of “You´re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.” And now he left us all a little more lonesome. But he will always be with us through his music.