Tuesday, September 6, 2016
“Singing Your Requests”
C60 (OSR Tapes)
Jimmie Packard (b. St. Patrick’s Day 1919; d. 2003) is part of Vermont’s “secret history” according to curator Zach Phillips of OSR Tapes, who released this second “reissue” of Packard’s recordings. (The first, A Time to Look Back, is also available from the label.) Packard’s music was unearthed from a private collection, and thus a minor legend was born once Phillips got his grubby little mitts on it. See, Packard has a robust bio which I’ll plagiarize healthily here: “experienced luthier, operator of Jimmie Packard’s Instrument Repairs in his hometown of Wilder, Vermont, daily music instructor, radio DJ …, bandleader, … ridiculously prolific home recordist, and father.” In that you can infer a somewhat prolific man who, in the 1970s and 1980s, home-recorded many, many songs. On Singing Your Requests, we get a set of country standards featuring gorgeously layered guitars and Packard’s honeyed tenor. The material was absolutely tailored-made to be sung by the man, and the posthumous release should only enhance his legacy and legend.
For me, son of a boomer and nostalgia hound, I’m reminded of my paternal grandfather, who was a few years younger than Packard and outlived him by about a decade. The photos of Packard certainly help to further that idea – my grandfather stopped paying attention to fashion sometime around the early 1970s, and before you think I’m poking fun at Packard’s seventies polyester cowboy getup, I’ll promise that I’m not – it’s a good feeling that reminds me of growing up in the 1980s. The music does the same thing – it sounds piped in from another era, and it sounded piped in from another era when I was a kid. I guess that means it’s become timeless by definition. By description, it sounds Hawaiian sometimes, sounds like Burl Ives sometimes. Conway Twitty sparkled onstage, but Jimmie Packard sparked smiles and good vibes wherever he went with his music, it seems. We’re lucky that it’s been unearthed. Well done sir.