Mary McCaslin | Better Late Than Never

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Folk: Traditional Folk Rock: Americana Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Better Late Than Never

by Mary McCaslin

Mary's first self-produced album includes new songs, her unique arrangements of classic covers, country melodies and a traditional folk tale
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Acres of Houses
2:33 $0.99
2. Lights of Spartanburg
3:56 $0.99
3. Unchained Melody
4:22 $0.99
4. Bei Mir Bist Du Schön
2:42 $0.99
5. Oildale
3:36 $0.99
6. Sabres and Guns
4:44 $0.99
7. Standing in the Doorway
3:02 $0.99
8. Losing End
3:16 $0.99
9. Missing
2:44 $0.99
10. You’ve Forgotten
3:06 $0.99
11. To Some Cool Blue-Iced Shore
2:27 $0.99
12. California Joe
10:14 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

Mary McCaslin represents an unbroken link between traditional folksingers and today’s “new folk” singer-songwriters. Her music ranges from ballads of the old west to her own songs of the new west and modern times. Regarded as a pioneer of open guitar tunings, and known for her distinctive vocal style, Mary’s influences can be heard in many younger folk performers.
She is also known for her haunting renditions of pop standards and rock classics, such as “Ghost Riders In The Sky”, “The Wayward Wind”, the Beatles’ “Things We Said Today”, and the Supremes’ “My World Is Empty”. Her versions of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” and the Who’s “Pinball Wizard” are made more unique by her “clawhammer” banjo accompaniment.
Mary’s musical influences are as varied as her repertoire: The western ballads of Marty Robbins, the guitar playing of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, the singing and banjo playing of Hedy West, and the vocal inflections of the Beatles and the BeeGees.
Her songs have been recorded by Tom Russell (“Prairie In The Sky”), Bill Staines (“Prairie In The Sky”), Chris Williamson (“Circle Of Friends”), David Bromberg (“Young Westley”), Kate Wolf (“The Ballad Of Weaverville”), Stan Rogers (“Down The Road”) and others. The Grand Canyon Railroad has used her song “Last Cannonball” for its promotional television ad.


Acres of Houses was inspired by a visit to the “rural” area outside of Burlington,
Vermont a few years ago. In the 1970s and early 1980s I recorded at the Philo
Records Barn in North Ferrisburg, which is south of Burlington. Back then it was
almost all farmland and houses were few and far between. During this visit my friend,
singer and musician Rik Palieri, took me for a drive to show me how things had
changed. Like everywhere else, houses are sprouting up where fields used to be. •
The Lights of Spartanburg was written after the death of singer-songwriter
Walter Hyatt, who was killed in the Value Jet crash in 1996. Singers Robin and Linda
Williams were old friends with Walter. Returning home from a show the night of the
crash, they happened to be driving past his hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina
when they heard the news on the radio that Walter was among the dead.They could
see the lights of Spartanburg in the distance. • Unchained Melody is a song I've
always loved. Most people associate it with the Righteous Brothers, but it has actually
been around since the 1950s. • One of my great inspirations as a singer and banjo
player is the late Hedy West.This arrangement of Bei Mir Bist Du Schön is a sort
of “Hedy West Meets the Andrews Sisters.” • Mike Beck is a working cowboy who is
also a marvelous singer-songwriter. He caught the real feeling of the Bakersfield
Sound in Oildale. • Jim Ringer wrote Sabres and Guns and performed it on stage,
but never got to record it.This is one of my favorite of his songs. A few years after
his death I found a copy of the lyrics and started singing it. Soon it became obvious to
me that it needed more of an ending, so I added the last verse. • Standing in the
Doorway was inspired somewhat by Bob Simpson’s song “Cornerstone Cowboy,”
which is on the Prairie in the Sky album. Steve Netsky put the melody to my lyrics. •
The arrangement of Losing End heard here is based on how I remember it being
played by Robb Strandlund and Larry Blom.This is one of my favorite Neil Young
songs. • It is a heartbreaking fact that children disappear every year and are never
seen alive again. Often, after a search that takes months or years, sometimes reaching
an international level, the remains of the child are found within less than a couple of
miles of home.The idea for Missing came to me after one of these tragedies. •
You’ve Forgotten is a very early Jackson Browne song. It’s among a number of
great songs that he wrote in the beginning of his career and never got around to
recording. • This is my third recording of the late Hoyt Axton’s great anti-war song
To Some Cool Blue Iced Shore. Somehow it never appeared on any of his
recordings.The guitar part here is the closest I've come to Hoyt’s playing on the
“demo” of this song I was given back in the 1960s. • Jim Ringer learned California
Joe from his cousin and grandmother and he recorded it in 1972 on his Folk Legacy
album,Waitin’ for the Hard Times to Go. His family had a wealth of old songs that
were handed down through the generations. California Joe was originally a poem
written by Captain Jack Crawford and published in his 1886 book,The Poet Scout.
The melody Jim uses is particularly beautiful.This song is for the Ringer and Tinkler
families, for Debbie Shockley, who presented me with a copy of the Poet Scout and
for my husband, Greg, who encouraged me to record it.

– Mary McCaslin • October, 2006

“A great composer and interpreter.”

"Mary McCaslin is an inspiration"

“- a sage writer, warmly expressive singer and exquisite player.”

“- a songwriter’s songwriter."

"McCaslin's real-life western songs and earthy romanticism were profoundly influential among songwriters in the '70s. Too often overlooked is the great impact her guitar playing also had on the acoustic scene.”

L. A. TIMES (feature on mystery writer Walter Mosley)
“Mosley is a conundrum who pulls from Louis Armstrong and folk singer Mary
McCaslin with equal fervor and fascination."

Larry Kelp – KPFA, Berkeley.
"She sounds as if she had risen out of the Western soil and became its voice."



"Better Late Than Never" - Mary McCaslin Music MMM001


"A Life And Time" - Flying Fish FLY203
( CD re-issue)
“Things We Said Today, The Best Of” - Philo 1149
(compilation of early Philo recordings)
“Broken Promises” - Philo 1160
(1994 release of new material)
“Way Out West” - Philo 1011
(CD re-issue)
“Prairie In The Sky - Philo 1024
(CD re-issue)
“Old Friends” - Philo 1046
(CD re-issue)
“The Bramble & The Rose” - Philo 1055
(CD re-issue of duet recording with Jim Ringer)


“Rain - The Lost Album” - BCD 16232AH
(1967-8 Capitol unreleased recordings)


“Girls from Santa Cruz” - DVD and CD of concert with Lacy J. Dalton and Ginny Mitchell - Mitchell/Collins Productions

LPs (currently unavailable)

“Sunny California” - Philo 1099
(re-issue of 1979 Mercury LP)
“Goodnight Everybody” - Barnaby 212 35002



to write a review

Phil Roberts

Theres always a gem
Though I was buying and playing music in Marys most prolific period in the 70's for some reason I never got to hear her stuff. I've spend the last 5 years redressing the balance and have now got virtually all I can. Better Late than Never came available just when I had caught up! I always judge albums on what I hear that I feel i'd like to perform, in that respect Better Late than Never has two cracking songs, Acres of Houses and Oildale, in the general scheme of things Id call it a decent return. I do feel though her decision to rerecord 'cool blue iced shore' a mistake and California Joe is just too long. Please dont let me put you off though! Marys voice is still great, more weathered but bags of character and in a perfect world she'd be a major artist. I wish she'd come to the UK but if that ain't going to happen please please Mary keep making records like this 'cause your wonderful!


wonderful to hear you again
mary revived the folkie in me when i hear "blackbird" so many years ago ---- always a treat, mccaslin, hope you'll be back in massachusetts soon!