David Charles Olney (March 23, 1948 – January 18, 2020) was an American folk singer-songwriter. Olney recorded more than 20 albums during his nearly five decades as a musician. His songs have been covered by numerous artists, including Emmylou Harris, Del McCoury, Linda Ronstadt and Steve Earle.
2 Personal life and death
3.1 Solo albums
3.2 Solo EPs
3.3 With Bland Simpson
3.4 With the X-rays
3.5 With Nashville Jug Band
3.7 As composer
3.8 As guest musician
5 External links
Olney was born on March 23, 1948, in Providence, Rhode Island. After briefly attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he joined Bland Simpson's band Simpson. They recorded one album in New York in 1971. The next year he relocated to Atlanta and in 1973 moved to Nashville with the hope of selling his material to record labels.
In the early 1980s, he formed the band The X-Rays, which recorded two albums for Rounder Records. The group appeared on Austin City Limits, opened for major acts, including Elvis Costello, and broke up in 1985.
Over the following decades, Olney performed as a solo singer-songwriter, releasing more than 20 albums including six live recordings. He collaborated with artists such as John Hadley and Sergio Webb. His songs were covered by and co-written with Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Young, Del McCoury, and Laurie Lewis, among many others.
Olney was a key member of Nashville’s music community. The Rhode Island native was a compelling and enigmatic presence in Music City. He wrote sonnets and starred at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and his live concerts blended tenderness and ferocity, theatre and sincerity, agitation and embrace.
Personal life and death
Olney resided in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Regine. They have a son, Redding, and a daughter, Lillian. Olney formed a mutual admiration with Townes Van Zandt when he began his solo career. Van Zandt bought Olney a sport coat from a Goodwill store in Little Rock.
Olney died of an apparent heart attack during a performance onstage at the 30A Songwriter Festival in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, on January 18, 2020, at age 71. He was in the middle of his third song when he stopped, apologized and shut his eyes, according to fellow musician Scott Miller who was accompanying Olney. "David was playing a song when he paused, said 'I'm sorry' and put his chin to his chest. He never dropped his guitar or fell off his stool. It was as easy and gentle as he was," Miller said.
1986: Eye of the Storm (Philo / Rounder)
1989: Deeper Well (Philo)
1991: Roses (Philo)
1991: Top to Bottom (Appaloosa)
1992: Border Crossing (SilenZ Records)
1994: Ache of Longing (Roadsongs)
1994: Live in Holland (Strictly Music)
1995: High, Wide and Lonesome (Philo / Rounder)
1997: Real Lies (Philo)
1999: Through a Glass Darkly (Philo / Rounder)
1999: Ghosts in the Wind: Live at La Casa, Michigan (Barbed)
2000: Omar's Blues (Dead Reckoning)
2002: Women Across the River: Live in Holland (Strictly Music)
2003: The Wheel (Loud House)
2004: Illegal Cargo: Live in Holland (South Central)
2005: Migration (Loud House)
2006: Lenora: Live in Holland (Strictly Country)
2007: One Tough Town (Red Parlor)
2008: Live at Norm's River Roadhouse, Volume 1 (Deadbeat) with Sergio Webb and Jack Irwin
2009: Ol' Diz: A Musical Baseball Story. A Songwriters' Work in Progress (Deadbeet) with John Hadley
2010: Dutchman's Curve (Deadbeet / Continental Song City)
2012: The Stone (Deadbeet)
2012: Robbery & Murder (Deadbeet) collects the EPs Film Noir, The Stone, and Robbery & Murder as a 3-CD box set
2013: Predicting The Past: Introducing Americana Music Vol.2 (Rootsy)
2014: Sweet Poison (Strictly Music) available at shows starting Nov. 2013, generally released in Jan. 2014
2014: When the Deal Goes Down" (Deadbeet)
2016: Holiday In Holland (Strictly Country) with Sergio Webb
2017: Don't Try to Fight It (Red Parlor)
2018: This Side Or The Other (Black Hen Music)
2011: Film Noir (Deadbeet)
2012: The Stone (Deadbeet)
2012: Robbery & Murder (Deadbeet)
With Bland Simpson
With the X-rays
1981: Contender (Rounder)
1984: Customized (Boulevard)
With Nashville Jug Band
1982: Nashville Jug Band (Rounder)
2014: "When the Deal Comes Down"
1985: Mike Cross – Solo At Midnight (Sugar Hill) – track 5, "Georgia May"
1985: Mimi Fariña – Solo (Philo) – track 5, "If My Eyes Were Blind"
1986: Steve Young – Look Homeward Angel (Mill) – track 3, "If My Eyes Were Blind"
1993: Emmylou Harris – Cowgirl's Prayer (Warner Bros. – track 8, "Jerusalem Tomorrow"
1995: Emmylou Harris – Wrecking Ball (Elektra / Asylum) – track 6, "Deeper Well" co-written with Daniel Lanois and Emmylou Harris
1995: Linda Ronstadt – Feels Like Home (Elektra – track 9, "Women Cross the River"
1996: Garnet Rogers – Night Drive ([Snow Goose) – track 6, "Love's Been Linked To The Blues"
1999: Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris – Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions (Asylum) – track 5, "1917"
2006: Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch, and Fats Kaplin – '"Lost John Dean (Compass – track 5, "Postcard From Mexico" (co-written with John Hadley); track 8, "Mr Bones" (co-written with Claudia Scott, John Hadley, and Kevin Welch)
2006: Slaid Cleaves – Unsung (Rounder) – track 7, "Millionaire"
2007: Mae Robertson – Dream (Lyric Partners) – track 14: "Dream a Dream" co-written with Carol Elliott
2008: Eric Brace and Peter Cooper – You Don't Have to Like Them Both (Red Beet / CoraZong) – track 2, "Omar's Blues #2"
2008: Tim O'Brien – Chameleon (Howdy Skies) – track 3, "The Garden"; track 7, "Chameleon"; track 12, "When In Rome" (all co-written with John Hadley and Tim O'Brien
2009: Del McCoury – By Request (McCoury Music) – track 11, "Queen Anne's Lace"
2009: Pascal Briggs – The Mercenary (Drumming Monkey) – track 3, "Millionaire"
2009: Kieran Kane – Somewhere Beyond the Roses (Compass / Dead Reckoning) – track 8, "I Took My Power Back" (co-written with Kieran Kane)
2009: The Wailin' Jennys – Live at the Mauch Opera House (Red House) – track 1, "Deeper Well" co-written with Daniel Lanois and Emmylou Harris
2011: Annika Fehling – Fireflies (Rootsy) – track 12, "I Know Better" (co-written with Annika Fehling)
2012: Rocky Hill – Lone Star Legend (Floating World) – track 1, "Take A Message To Garcia"; track 2, "Go Down Dupree", Track 7, "Charleston Knife"
2014: Rory McNamara - The Ring Of Truth Trio - Dangerous Business - (Rolltop Discs) - track 4 - "Walk Downtown".
As guest musician
2015: Tom Russell – The Rose of Roscrae (Proper)
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