Michael Nesmith

Nevada Fighter(Pacific Arts 1971)


Before I finally heard Michael Nesmith’s string of classic country-rock albums, I was entrenched in my narrow view of him as the Monkee in a stocking cap and a Liquid Paper fortune. I read positive reviews of his 70s solo work, but marked them up as twaddle on par with endorsements of Utopia or Nilsson. I couldn’t break free from his association with bubblegum pop and zany antics and the idea of Nesmith as Byrdsian troubadour was just plain crazy talk. However, a friend taped Nevada Fighter for me and it knocked the door ajar and let some light shine on my cloudy judgement. After further purchases and tape trades, I fell in love with everything Michael Nesmith released between 1968-1977 and what came after isn’t anything to shake a stick at either.

I love how Nevada Fighter starts off n such a jaunty note with the rollicking country-tonk of “The Grand Ennui.” It kind of reminds me of Link Wray’s “La De Da” which is ironic since they were both released in the same year and marked new directions for both artists. The opener isn’t representative of the bulk of Nevada Fighter since Nesmith is in an introspective mood here. The abundance of pedal steel helps to accentuate the bruised sentiments and pensive pace of Nevada Fighter and it showcases Nesmith’s ability to really milk the emotion from a song. It is his saddest album, but not his best work as that title belongs to Magnetic South or Loose Salute. I may post some more of his early work as time goes by, so check back here if you enjoy this one.