Jimmie Dale Gilmore talks with S&H about his unusual career and his own personal journey.
Jimmie Dale Gilmore, owner of the world’s most lonesome tenor, has had a backwards sort of career.
In the early 1970s he recorded an album with a group of his friends. They called themselves The Flatlanders. The album was a mix of country and folk music, beautiful but also strange and eerie sounding, with lyrics that were sometimes pure Country & Western and sometimes decidedly not. (One song is called “Bhagavan Decreed.”) The Flatlanders were a hard band to pin down or define, and they never connected with a record company. The group disbanded.
Gilmore was also hard to pin down or define. His influences included the honkytonk music he grew up listening to in Lubbock, Texas; plenty of science fiction (“Science fiction wasn’t that common back then. I came to a point where I had read most of the science fiction that had been published up through the ’60s.”); the satire of Mad magazine, which poked holes in conventional approaches to life (“Some of the Mad writers were doing it intentionally and some were just accidentally good at it. No sacred cow was safe.”); and the serious study of both Western and E …