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Letter to Laredo

Joe ElyAudio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Audio CD, 1995 --  
Audio Cassette, 1995 --  

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 29, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Mca Nashville
  • ASIN: B000002OVN
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,324 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. All Just To Get To You
2. Gallo Del Cielo
3. Run Preciosa
4. Saint Valentine
5. Ranches And Rivers
6. Letter To Laredo
7. I Saw It In You
8. She Finally Spoke Spanish To Me
9. I Ain't Been Here Long
10. That Ain't Enough
11. I'm A Thousand Miles From Home

Editorial Reviews

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

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
The reviewer below not only doesn't "get" Ely's music, he also clearly doesn't know much about the singer's background. Ely has strong tejano roots, so his connection to the music is quite legitimate. This album is a quasi-concept album, and is a slight departure from Ely's usual fare. It was inspired by Cormac McCarthy's book All The Pretty Horses, and the producers of the movie (now in production) got wind of this and were smart enough to call on Mr. Ely to do soundtrack work on the forthcoming film. This album is one of Ely's best, and will make any exiled southwestern native (like myself) deeply homesick. Listen and enjoy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous Tex-Mex September 26, 2002
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of a lot of Texas songwriters: Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, etc., so I expected to like this album. But instead, I love it.
The flamenco guitar on most tracks give it a feel similar to Willie Nelson's album "Spirit", but with more explicitly Latino and Texas narratives and more of a rock and roll drive.
Ely is a great songwriter, with a gift for precise, striking images full of character -- you know EXACTLY what Saint Valentine looks like. He's also a wonderful interpreter; the cockfighting ballad Gallo Del Cielo, for instance, is beautiful and tragic and very true.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The King of the Texas Roadhouse makes a stop July 13, 1999
Format:Audio CD
I cannot explain in words the pleasure I have received from the hours of play by me and my family (even my 11 year old daughter is a big fan) of "Letter to Laredo" and "Twistin' In The Wind". I have been listening to Joe for many years as he has taken me back to my west Texas roots. But with this mix of Texas Roadhouse Rock, Tejano and Flamenco and whatever else you find in the mix, I have found that music I can carry with me forever. This is truly art and Joe Ely a world class artisan.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Letter to Laredo is the best of Joe Ely October 4, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
What can I say about Joe Ely that the people in the know haven't already said? Just that this album touches my soul, makes me think there are still real people in the music world.Being a West Texas girl, Ranches and Rivers is probably the best on this great album.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent blend of rootsy Americana August 19, 1998
Format:Audio CD
In my opinion, Joe Ely reached the pinnacle of his long and critically- acclaimed career with this album (and he continues to scale the peaks with his latest, "Twistin' in the Wind"). Combining elements of rock, country, and Tejano, seasoned liberally with flamenco guitar, Joe cooks up a great, satisfying album that meanders across much of the American music-scape.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takes me home July 6, 2007
Format:Audio CD
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The pleasure goes on forever... August 30, 2003
Format:Audio CD
The knock on Joe Ely records has been that compared to his live performances, his studio products seem a bit flat. I agreed with that assessment in regard to his recent "Twistin' in the Wind" CD, but I love "Letter to Laredo." I think every selection works, and fits well with the others. These kind of songs clearly come off better in studio versions than they would in the roadhouses. Joe just found the right songs, the right style, the right help, even the right order of the tunes, on this project. For my taste, it's the best record I've heard from him since 1978's "Honky Tonk Masquerade." That's just my opinion, and I have not heard every record, or seen Joe live, although he often performs in Lubbock, just 100 miles up the road from me. I'm a fan, however, just the same. If you like Joe at all, I cannot imagine you won't love "Letter to Laredo."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joe Ely at his Best July 4, 2007
Format:Audio CD
This is one of Joe Ely's best cds. The guitar, vocals and his intensity deliver a fantastic musical experience. There just isn't another Joe Ely. In his music you can hear the West Texas land he was raised in filtering through him from the guitar style to the cowboy and Spanish references in the lyrics. Sometimes I just have to listen to "Gallo del Cielo" and then I remember how much I thoroughly enjoy every song on this album. Other favorite Ely tunes on this cd include "All Just to get to You," "Ranches and Rivers" and the title track, "Letter to Laredo." I was delighted to learn that Joe Ely has been getting together with his buddies from Lubbock in their old band, The Flatlanders, with Butch Hancock War and Peace and Jimmie Dale Gilmore Spinning Around the Sun. Their cd Wheels of Fortune is a real treat for Joe Ely fans. Also check out the DVD Lubbock Lights, Limited Edition. It has some great background on their musical influences.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great album bad extras
The music is great. Every track is solid. I gave it as a gift and they loved it! But where are the letters?
Published 21 months ago by Tony Aiken
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware Universal Special Markets Version!
Fantastic album, maybe Joe's best, and that is saying something, but beware the 2007 version that Universal Special Markets have released! Read more
Published on December 4, 2009 by Derek Sheplawy
5.0 out of 5 stars late night radio in NYC...
I was driving home late one night from some party in NYC, alone and a little fried, it was about 1 am. Read more
Published on September 12, 2007 by Kerry O. Burns
5.0 out of 5 stars You should be listening to Ely
If you want to touch a womans soul, if you want to touch your own inner mind then you want to listen to Joe's words. Read more
Published on July 13, 2006 by Kenneth Schuster
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Something about Joe Ely, not sure what it is. He has this unique sound that makes him Joe Ely. You can find it in his rocknroll albums, his honky-tonk albums and even his country... Read more
Published on December 6, 2005 by SUPERMAN
4.0 out of 5 stars Does it again.
I must say you know this world is in trouble when Joe Ely isn't on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry CMA awards night in 1995 performing "Gallo Del Cielo" and sweeping the... Read more
Published on April 29, 2004 by Cory L. Schwent
4.0 out of 5 stars Just a great recording
I play this CD for friends who have no knowledge of or interest in Joe Ely, and they end up taking it home. I have to plead to get it back. Read more
Published on July 9, 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars ELY AT HIS BEST
This is an outstanding recording. Easily his best since his self titled CD from 1977.
Published on May 3, 2001 by "midnightryder"
5.0 out of 5 stars In the tradition of Van Zandt and Clark
This was my first exposure to Ely. After listening to it I went out and bought Twistin' in the Wind, Dig All Night and Lord of the Highway. Read more
Published on April 5, 2001
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