A Tribute to John D Loudermilk was recorded live March 24, 2016 during a concert at the Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tennessee, near Nashville. Although ailing at the time, Loudermilk was on hand to witness this outpouring of love and respect. He died September 21 at the age of 82.
A film of the concert will be released as a PBS special.
Grammy-winning John Jorgenson produced the album and was musical director for the concert. Dixie Gamble, who organized the concert, is co-producer of the album and is overseeing production of the PBS special. A Tribute to John D. Loudermilk will be distributed by BFD in association with Sony/Red Distribution.
Loudermilk found inspiration for his songs in the raw material most people overlook—a lovesick teenager’s peace offering, the magnetic pull of birthplace, the inevitability of personal failure.
In addition to hosting the live event, Peter Cooper was also tapped to write the liner notes for the project. “In life and love and song, Loudermilk hated moderation,” writes Cooper. “He wasn’t just a seeker of truth and beauty, he was a finder. He found it, he learned it, he kept it, and then he shared it with us seekers.”
Equally adept at writing rock, pop and country hits, Loudermilk had songs recorded by the Allman Brothers, Edgar Winter, Jefferson Airplane, the Animals, Johnny Winter, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Casinos, the Everly Brothers, Petula Clark, Perry Como, Brenda Lee, Roy Orbison, Sammy Davis Jr., the Box Tops, Rick Nelson, Stonewall Jackson, Ernie Ashworth, Eddy Arnold, George Hamilton IV, Skeeter Davis, the Browns, Connie Smith, Webb Pierce, Barbara Mandrell, George Jones, Bobbie Gentry, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Doc Watson, Sonny James, Anne Murray, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson, James Brown, Solomon Burke, Nina Simone, Norah Jones, Jay Z and Kanye West.
ALBUM NOTES by Peter Cooper
Most of us think of ourselves as seekers.
We come with minds we believe to be open, in search of truth and beauty.
That’s the best way we can be, and that’s what separates us from John D Loudermilk.
Because he wasn’t a seeker, he was a finder. He found it, he learned it, he kept it, and then he shared it with the seekers. Most of the time, we listened but didn’t believe. At least we didn’t believe to the extent that John D demanded.
In life and love and song, Loudermilk hated moderation. The ugliest place he ever saw was the middle of the damn road. He told us that’s what made him just like Jesus, and we nodded and smiled.
He told us that Me-ism is the crux of democracy, and that the ukulele and Chet Atkins were holy devices, and we checked our watches
and thought about how late it was getting. Loudermilk didn’t believe in time, which is why he slipped up and got surprised by its passing. By then he’d found his error, though, and from that error he wrote his most poignant classic, “Where Have They Gone.”
The only thing he ever lost was his mighty mystery train of thought, over and over. Then he found it, again and again. “We were talking about songwriting, right?,” he’d remember. “Nashville is the place for songwriting. Music here is different. It’s because of the dead Indians under the ground. That drives the pathos, and the pathos drives the songs.”
Loudermilk went to a segregated high school in Durham, located right in the middle of the road. He became the first winner of the Cherokee Nation’s Medal of Honor.
He loved hurricanes, and despised tornados.
He was, simultaneously, the weirdest and most logical person I’ve ever met.
We seekers never understood him.
We didn’t have to.
He understood us, and he wrote for us in language and melody we could comprehend.
In March of 2016, we got together to sing and play for him, and to shower upon him the one thing we understood nearly as well as him, which was love.
Now, where, oh, where has he gone?
We seekers have no idea. But we figure he’ll tell us in his own time. And this time we’ll not only listen, we’ll believe.