Even in the 21st century, my father still plugs in his 8-track player when he works in the garage. Among his collection of '60s and '70s country crooners is a tape of recordings by his brother Jerry Andrick.
My Uncle Jerry has lead a wild life. Born and raised in Philippi, West Virginia, he had two children at an early age, and still managed a 4.0 gpa all through his time at WVU before earning a Master's in engineering. After living somewhat of a vagabond lifestyle, he and his family landed in Atlanta in the '70s. Throughout this time, Jerry was writing country songs including some for major label recording artists like Sami Jo Cole. His career as a songwriter never took off, but his album of originals was always a favorite of my father's.
Nowadays, Jerry helps his brother-in-law build music studios in Atlanta. With access to studio space and time, around 2007, my uncle sat down with an acoustic guitar and laid down some new songs of his as well as re-recording some of those that bellowed out of my father's 8-track player.
Jerry's tunes have the lyrical quirk of storyteller John Prine but sung with a baritone voice not quite as deep as Johnny Cash. A brilliant man who hated George W. Bush but doesn't trust any politicians, Jerry's newer songs reflect his personal politics touching on contemporary issues. The albums opening track "Mary and Rosalee" is about his friendship with a lesbian couple. On the bluntly-named "We're So Fucked," Jerry introduces the song by speaking "This is what I think about our current situation" then croons on about the Patriot Act, airport security, and Super Sizing.
Other tracks like "Prayer" and "I'm Takin' My Pony," which he wrote for Reba McEntire (though she's never heard it), show a softer side. But it is the song "West Virginia" that stands above all as my and my father's favorite. The song is a gentle anthem of affect for the state, its mountains and its people. Coming from the nephew and grandson of miners in Barbour County, it praises the brave laborers of our family while pointing a finger at the coal companies that have taken advantage of the hard-working people. "West Virginia, I love you. You'll always be safe here in my memory."
I do want to note that the first time Jerry played this record for me, we were sitting in his car while he smoked weed that was given to him by Ludacris. Yeah, he's lived that kind of life, and this record is a slight representation of that time. For those into humble, earnest singer-songwriters playing acoustic country-folk like Prine or Kris Kristofferson, give this a listen.
Artist: Jerry Andrick
For fans of: Johnny Cash, John Prine, Kris Kristofferson
DOWNLOAD: Jerry Andrick - 1944