On Saturday February 9, the great Joe Ely turns 66. So we’re going to wish the West Texas troubadour a big ol’ happy birthday with a very special song of the day straight from the Studio 1A archives.
Since you’re here, reading this right now, we’re going to venture a guess and say that you’re probably pretty familiar with Ely. But for you poor, poor folks that aren’t, this here’ll serve as a brief intro to one of Texas’s finest artists.
Ely (like one of this week’s other great song of the day artists Terry Allen) hails from Lubbock. It was there, in 1971, he and some buddies named Butch and Jimmie Dale formed a little band called The Flatlanders. Ely went solo by the mid-70s, and in 1977 issued his eponymous debut. He gained some exposure across the pond when fans The Clash asked him to open for them on a U.K. tour. Ely would later join Clash frontman Joe Strummer in howling the Spanish backing vocals on “Should I Stay Or Should I Go.” Ely and Strummer remained close friends until Strummer’s death in 2002.
The 1980s saw Ely gain some well-earned crossover success. In 1990 The Flatlander’s 1972 debut record More A Legend than a Band finally reached the audience it deserved after it was re-issued by Rounder Records (the band’s long-lost early recordings were finally released this past fall as The Odessa Tapes). Later in the decade, Ely teamed up with Freddy Fender, Joel Guzman, Flaco Jiménez, Rubén Ramos, Doug Sahm, Rick Trevino, and David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos and formed Los Super Seven. The band’s self-titled debut won the 1998 Grammy for Best Mexican-American/Tejano Music Performance.
The list of Ely’s projects and achievements really could go on for days. There’s no doubt about it. So back to the task at hand. Back in January 2010, he stopped by the old Studio 1A, and performed a couple of tunes including today’s song of the day “Dig All Night,” the title track to his 1988 record. It’s just Ely and a lovely sounding Gibson acoustic. Give it a listen, and join us in wishing him a very happy birthday!