Joe Henry is Awesome

I am going to see Joe Henry tonight at Largo (never have I been happier to live in Los Angeles), so I thought I’d write about how I discovered him and his music. It’s kind of a random story and I find it amusing, so, perhaps you will too.

Back in the day, Tower Records stores had a big kiosk of postcards near the front door. They were promotional postcards for bands, TV shows, movies, sneakers, and other stuff. So, one day after an album-buying trip in 1996, I spotted the postcard pictured above on my way out of the store. I had never heard of Joe Henry, but I thought the photograph on the card was really cool and so I grabbed a small stack of them. It didn’t inspire me to look into Joe Henry (though, being a relatively pre-Internet era, I wouldn’t really have had anywhere to look him up other than going and buying an album) or do anything other than enjoy the image on the postcard. I mean, there were a lot of crappy bands and things promoted on those postcards, so it didn’t seem to me like a thing to do.

Fast-forward to 1998 when Henry’s next album was coming out. I saw a listing for an episode of Sessions at West 54th, a defunct PBS show that aired live performances, that was to feature Joe Henry. I sort of laughed, putting the name to the face on the postcards I had picked up a couple years earlier. That piqued my interest enough to tape the Sessions episode and check him out.

Suffice it to say I was completely taken with his music. After, like, one song I was hooked. He’s since become one of my (if not my number one) favorite musicians. He’s seriously amazing, as I’ve mentioned all over the Internets before. I can’t wait for the show tonight.


NB: I love that this post contains references to large chain record stores, VCRs, and an exciting time before the Internet. I’m 35, things were different when I was growing up.

3 Thoughts on “Joe Henry is Awesome

  1. Lucky You indeed, living in LA! I wished I could have been there last friday. Was at a Joe Henry show 3 times here in the Netherlands. 3 Times I had a great time. Realy love the man and his music. As You were there at Largo’s, witch songs did he play? Did he go ‘back in time’ to, for instance, Shuffletown?

  2. He did. He played, if memory serves, Short Man’s Room and Kindness of the World.

  3. Kathleen on December 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm said:

    And at some point you sent me a cassette tape with “Fuse” on one side and “Trampoline” on the other. This must have been 1999. I told you I thought he sounded like Dylan, but I liked his music. Later that summer I saw him live for the first time ever at the House of Blues in Harvard Square. I was 19 (holy shit).

    14 years later I’m still a fan, and I finally met him last night when he played in Chicago. (His hair is even more incredible up close!)

    Meeting him inspired me to remember how I first heard of him, and here I found your blog (again). I think you sent me one of the promo postcards at the time? I wouldn’t know where to begin looking for it now though, if I still have it. Or that cassette tape.

    In short, we are old. And RIP Tower Records.

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