Jesse Terry takes 22 songs and makes them his own in a new CD set

jesse terry Photo of Neilson Hubbard in 2016

I first discovered Jesse Terry almost a year ago when he released his seventh album, ‘When We Wander’, it was during the pandemic when touring was impossible and he and his family were at Prosperity, SC working on a few musical projects. Little did I know then that one of these projects – a double CD set called “Forget-Me-Nots: Volumes 1 & 2” – would arrive in my mailbox in March of this year. Consisting of 22 songs by artists like Joni Mitchell (“A Case of You”), Bob Dylan (“My Back Pages”), The Bee Gees (“Immortality”), Eric Clapton (“Let It Grow”), Elton John (“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”), George and Ira Gershwin (“Someone to Watch Over Me”), and many more. This collection of covers was refreshing in its simplicity and the fact that Terry made each one his own with his arrangements and vocal styles that were so easy to pick up…in short, not to be missed. Upon hearing him, I immediately arranged a telephone interview with him from his home in Pawcatuck, Connecticutto let him know my feelings about this delightful outing.

Q: Under normal circumstances, I prefer original material to covers, but what you’ve done with this new 2-CD set is to take 22 popular songs and make them your own – that’s no mean feat. task, if you know what I mean.
Terri: Thank you, that means a lot.

Q: And the variety of styles and genres really makes this a special project.
Terri: When I started thinking about it, I thought, “Maybe I’ll do a certain era or maybe I’ll have a real theme.” I quickly gave up on that, though, because I started making a list of songs and realized they were all over the map – and I can’t bear to lose this one from Crowded House but yet I didn’t want to lose “Some Enchanted Soir” from the South Pacific. So I decided I was going to do what I wanted to do and somehow try to bring it all together.

Q: Another aspect of this set is the visual element. With the first album I took from yours, “When We Wander”, it was the manual provided in the packaging that caught my attention; the artistic presentation, not only musical but visual, was magnificent, and this one is just as good if not better.
Terri: I had this wonderful designer and he found these beautiful vintage illustrations of seeds and flowers and that’s where he got his inspiration from, and I love it. We definitely invest in packaging and presentation because nowadays people often buy a CD and don’t have a CD player, so you want them to have a souvenir. These albums are such labors of love and if you don’t have something really beautiful to commemorate it, it doesn’t feel complete to me.

Q: When we first talked about a year ago, one of the recurring themes was your desire to connect with your listeners through your music, and this new album only reinforces that I believe. .
Terri: I remember that interview well and loved it, and we were recording “Forget-Me-Nots” at that time. We were at the lake house in Prosperity, SC, my wife and daughter, and it was just a really special time in my life. I can’t wait to go back to that place one day because those six weeks of recording this album have been so intense and wonderful, I’ll remember it forever and I think that comes through in the music as well.

Q: It certainly is, that’s for sure. Have you had any feedback from people who have heard it?
Terri: Yeah, we got really good reviews and the coolest thing for me, of course, is going live again and playing some of those songs from the album that people weren’t expecting.

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Q: Now, the last time we spoke, you were working on a project, this same collection, actually, so I have to ask you: are you working on something new or taking a well-deserved break?
Terri: No, I never take a break and I never want to (laughs). It’s crazy but it’s been over two years since I really wrote songs and I never had this kind of (pause) I don’t want to call it a drought because I was intentionally doing other things . First I was just surviving and figuring out if we were going to be able to survive the pandemic, which we did thanks to the support of my fans, and then I had the ability to do these two pandemic albums: “Forget-Me -Nots” and my Christmas album, “Peace”. So now I finally have the chance to sit down with all my guitars and start writing again… for me now it’s just how I can push myself to be a better songwriter, guitarist and singer, and how I can surpass myself. For me, it’s very exciting.

Q: Now that you can play live again, what does your concert schedule look like in the coming months?
Terri: I’m looking forward to so many shows and tours this year overseas which are the biggest tours I’ve ever had. I think it’s up to 30 gigs in the UK in October, it’s almost every day now, so I have to stay really focused and take stock of life. Over the past two years, I’ve learned to prepare, I’ve learned to meditate, I’ve learned to take better care of my voice and to think better about performance, and I hope to be able to connect with people better because that’s what it’s all about. I’m grateful for the time we had and now I’m ready to go back now.

Q: Is there anything, Jesse, that you would like me to pass on to people reading this article?
Terri: Umm, as always, I love being able to connect with people. I love it when they contact me because that’s what it’s all about. jesseterrymusic.com

Lucky Clark, winner of the 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” award, has spent more than 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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Jack L. Goldstein