Search - Joe Ely :: Letter to Laredo

Letter to Laredo
Joe Ely
Letter to Laredo
Genres: Country, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

As a teenager, Joe Ely wandered about Lubbock, Texas, on weekend nights, listening to the Mexican farm workers strum guitars and sing their lilting corridos. Those formative experiences are reflected in Letter to Laredo, w...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Joe Ely
Title: Letter to Laredo
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Mca Nashville
Original Release Date: 8/29/1995
Release Date: 8/29/1995
Genres: Country, Pop, Rock
Styles: Americana, Outlaw Country, Country Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 008811122225

As a teenager, Joe Ely wandered about Lubbock, Texas, on weekend nights, listening to the Mexican farm workers strum guitars and sing their lilting corridos. Those formative experiences are reflected in Letter to Laredo, which draws a line of Spanish-American influences--both thematic and musical--from the cowboy music of the West Texas ranch country, across the Rio Grande River to the mariachi music of northern Mexico, and across the Atlantic Ocean to the gypsy music of Spain. In contrast to the hard-edged roots-rock feel of Ely's best known work, this project has an acoustic folk-rock feel, created by the convergence of Teye's flamenco guitar, Ponty Bone's Tex-Mex accordion, Lloyd Maines's honky-tonk steel guitar and Ely's own Dylanesque harmonica. Several of Ely's compositions--most notably "Run Preciosa," "Ranches and Rivers," and the title track--recall Cormac McCarthy's novels about penniless cowboys on the run from the law and angry fathers. In the same vein is Tom Russell's "Gallo del Cielo," a wonderful story-song about a Mexican peasant who steals his village's best fighting cock and carries it across the border in search of his fortune, and Butch Hancock's "She Finally Spoke Spanish to Me," a sequel to an earlier Hancock song recorded by Ely, "She Never Spoke Spanish to Me," which was itself a response to the old standard, "Spanish Is the Loving Tongue." Longtime Ely fan Bruce Springsteen adds high, howling harmonies on two songs, including "All Just to Get to You," a worthy sequel to Ely's "Settle for Love" and "For Your Love." --Geoffrey Himes

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CD Reviews

Takes me home
R. Kyle | USA | 07/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I first heard Joe Ely with the Flatlanders on KGSR in Austin, TX. His voice is one you won't forget and his glittering flamenco guitar can send chills down your spine. I'd liken him to Texas' Springsteen as far as his composing talents are concerned.

The other reviewers are right when they say that Ely's better live. No artifact comes close to capturing his humor and energy and yet this CD is as close as anything. The cover art on this CD is superlative.

While Ely's rooted in Country and Tejano, he's got some solid rock backing too. Bruce Springsteen sings backup on "All Just to Get to You."

"All Just to Get to You" got the most airplay in Austin at the time of the CD's release, but so much of this CD is timeless. "Letter to Laredo" could stand with "Town of El Paso" and many of the classic outlaw greats. The urgency of the message runs clear through the music and literally makes my heart pound.

And this is definitely real Texas music. Who else but Joe Ely could get me to listen to a song about cockfighting? Like it or not (and I really don't), cockfighting is a part of the Tex-Mex culture, and the song tells a story of a man who steals a prize rooster to gamble:

Hola my Teresa I'm thinkin of you now in San Antonio
I have 27 dollars and the good luck of your good luck of your picture framed in gold
Tonight I'll put it all on the fighting spurs of Gallo Del Cielo
Then I'll return to buy the land Pancho Villa stole from father long ago

Ely takes you to that moonlit fight and you find yourself rooting for the thief and his rooster. Totally unexpected, but that's the kind of magic that Ely can weave."
Beware Universal Special Markets Version!
Derek Sheplawy | Vancouver, BC | 12/04/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Fantastic album, maybe Joe's best, and that is saying something, but beware the 2007 version that Universal Special Markets have released! The original multi-paged booklet, printed on nice paper stock, has been replaced by a single sheet tray card that is pretty much void of any relevant information pertaining to 'Letter To Laredo'. Hooray to the modern day marketing genius! I suggest seeking out an original used copy of the 1995 edition and enjoy this album as it was intended to be, with full artwork, lyrics and the mention of the guest appearances. Or you might as well download it, you ain't getting it as it was intended to be released anyways."