About Jerry

•August 14, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Inspired by the life and works of Carl Sandburg, Jerry Merrick, accompanied by an orphan shaggy dog he befriended while hitchhiking, drifted into New York City shortly after leaving Hartwick College in Oneonta, (upstate) New York where he had immersed himself in English and American Literature courses as part of his English major. Armed with a guitar and an appetite for musical expression, Jerry was drawn to the emerging world of Greenwich Village.

Greenwich Village. The very name evokes thoughts of a time when names like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary and Odetta were synonymous with the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, beat poetry, and the entire social, sexual, and cultural revolution. By the mid-sixties, as a result of massive media focus on the emerging “beat generation” and its ties to a miniscule plot of urban real estate in lower Manhattan, every evening brought a virtual flood of tourists and New Yorkers alike cramming into Village coffee houses to consume a steady diet of extract flavored coffees along with a heavy dose of traditional and/or contemporary “folk music” sung by musicians and writers from around the globe.

One of them was Jerry.

As far back as Jerry’s early coffee house appearances, he exhibited a fantastic charisma, which allowed him to remain honest and believable whether performing the most whimsical children’s songs or extremely intense compositions exploring the deepest caverns of the human soul and condition.
Among his many and varied appearances all across the U.S. and up into Canada, Jerry can include performances at the Newport Folk Festival, Carnegie Hall, The Bitter End, the “Tonight Show” and a series of concerts with the late Flip Wilson in 1969.

In 1968, Jerry signed an album deal with Mercury Records. As so often was the case during that time period, the label, seeking to make an acoustic singer/writer fit into the then popular radio music format, released a heavily orchestrated album, which though quite nice in its musicality, proved to perhaps not be the most compatible vehicle for Jerry’s intricate lyrics and intimate performances.

Jerry’s song “Follow” was beautifully performed by Richie Havens on his classic “Mixed Bag” album as well as in his legendary appearances at Woodstock, the Newport Folk Festival, and Carnegie Hall. The song has been used as theme music in a half a dozen movies including “Coming Home” with John Voight and Jane Fonda and “The War” with Kevin Costner and Elijah Wood. It was also featured on a season ending episode of the T.V. series “The Practice”.

Jerry Jeff Walker’s “A Man Must Carry On” album included a section recorded as a tribute to his late friend Hondo Crouch, the founder of Luckenbach, Texas. “The Stranger”, another Merrick composition, was used as both the opening and closing song of that tribute.

In 1968, Tom Ghent included Jerry’s marvelous jazz, pop piece “Guess I’ll Pack My Things” on his Tetragrammaton release “Tom Ghent”. The song was subsequently recorded by B. J. Thomas and included in his enormously successful “Raindrops” album.

Although he has continued to do some concerts and club appearances, Jerry has spent most of the last twenty-five years sequestered in his remote Florida retreat where he and his wife of 35 years devoted themselves to raising three daughters and a son, all of whom have now reached responsible adulthood.

So, here we are in the present, and Jerry has returned to the studio once again. This time, however, he has been careful to see that the recordings are as representative as possible of his own creativity and solo performances while enlisting the talents of several versatile and sensitive studio musicians.

In the interest of proving that “a few good words are worth a thousand pictures”, turn on Jerry’s new CD “Suddenly I’ll Know You”, and treat yourself to the sounds of our friend, Jerry Merrick.