Posted by: Sally Ingraham | January 6, 2009

Music from Mariaville, ME

jimmy barnesI picked up a copy of Jimmy Barnes’ CD Maine to Mexico the other day. I had read about him in the newspaper, and was intrigued by the idea of a down-to-earth Mainer writing songs about fishing and meatloaf. This self termed “old hippie” from Mariaville, a town just over a couple of hills from me, had recently released his 5th CD. His music was supposedly simple stories about life, and proved that “old people still have something valid to contribute”.

Always interested in stories – musical or otherwise – I visited the Grasshopper Shop in Ellsworth (the only place between here and Bangor that still sells CDs…) and picked out his 2005 collection of work.

I started listening to it on the way home, and quickly found myself close to tears over the fourth song – Too Late in the Season, a ballad about an ill-fated fishing trip – and laughing in delight at the fifth – On the Dolphin, which told the tale of a boatload of tourists getting seasick on a fishing charter.

Barnes voice was pleasant, with a bit of an edge to it. He had a collection of friends and fellow musicians to help him get his stories across, listed in the liner notes as his “Crew”. The quality of the recording was decent, bringing kudos to the recording studio in Blue Hill, ME. The style was a mix of folk and country, not always my favorite, but somehow combined with the topic – life in Maine – it seemed proper.

Listening to the songs, I could just as easily imagine Barnes sitting around with his buddies up at the store, telling tales and yarns, giving opinions on the weather and the fishing, making light of, and finding the humor in a hard life.

The sixth song – Wooden Boat – had a line in it that I especially liked. “Live your life with sails full set”. These stories and songs seem to come from a man who participates fully in life, doesn’t back away from hardships, and after coming through a storm finds something to laugh about – and then writes a song about it.

That’s pretty neat. I’m glad to have Jimmy Barnes as a neighbor, and am eager to listen to more of his tales. I hope the “inspiration will make a good tune” for many years to come.

Check him out!
The Mount Desert Islander article

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