Trace and Exile

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People Get Ready - Exile - iTunes

Full Band Bio (Continued)

After two albums and four top-ten singles the long and winding road wound down for the Exile brand in February ’94 leaving Goetzman and Lemaire tired of mind, body & spirit. Dubois puts it in perspective saying, “Although we didn’t achieve the success we dreamed of, I am incredibly proud of the music we made and proud to have played a small part in a huge career. I love these guys.”   

Lemaire goes even further. “After we asked off Arista, I was certain we'd find another label. It became apparent after some time that the winds of change had caught up with us. Labels didn't want an old act with ‘baggage’ no matter how good we sounded. I felt I couldn't continue without being able to do new music so my passion for continuing just ‘left the building.’” I struggled for some time with my decision to quit but I finally could not deny my true feelings. After I told the guys I could not go on, we came to a mutual decision to lay it all down with dignity.”  

With every ending come new beginnings.

What sets the Nashville music business apart from the other major hubs is that it is a songwriter-publisher driven community where the others are artist-driven. Whether the artist is Kenney Chesney or Keni Thomas, virtually every Nashville artist has to make the pilgrimage to Songwriter River for the songs they need to make their records. Some artists decide they, too, want to write songs and seasoned songwriters know writing with the artist gives them a better chance of getting a song recorded. Some artists end up “sitting in the room and on the song” while the pros do the real work. Others like Pennington, Lemaire & Taylor have an aptitude for the trade and used their place in the Artist Food Chain to learn how to write really well.  

While riding the crest of hits, the best-of-the-best songwriters beat a path to the bus to write with Exile’s writing trio. The three guys, in turn, reached outside their own nest to cultivate quite the healthy peer group of co-writers. It proved to be an important career decision on their part.  

This was the tether to the business for Pennington, Lemaire & Taylor when the wheels came off their artist vehicle. They honed their skills to the point they all had hits on other artists. Among many others, J.P. had “The Closer You Get” and “Take Me Down” for Alabama; Sonny scored hits such as “When She Cries” for Restless Heart and “Beautiful Mess” for Diamond Rio; Les clocked in with “It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Easy” for Janie Fricke as well as cuts on Travis Tritt and Shelby Lynne..  

Lemaire has remained most rooted in the Nashville songwriting community and has a crystal clear perspective on what this skill set means. “Outside cuts are validation of your work. In our case it gave us ‘props’ that we were, indeed, the real deal. In a town & business where the song is everything, the fact that we could deliver the goods for other artists, gave us credibility. It was a major factor in Exile getting a second shot, which rarely happens in this business.”  

Les has reflected on his decision to go solo and then move back to Lexington many times in the intervening years, commenting, “If I had it to do over, like most people I would do a lot of things differently. First, I realized what being in a great band really meant to me. Second, Lexington is a beautiful, charming place. It’s home but it’s not Nashville. It doesn’t have 10 songwriters per square mile; the unbelievable creativity that feeds my stream. I have a great life but I really miss being smack dab in the middle of it all like we were.”

Goetzman snapped up the opportunity to go into management with guitar wizard Steve Wariner and later Eric Heatherly. J.P. dug into developing the regional music he found back home, recording and writing as much as ever. Marlon played with Jerry Reed, dabbled in management, ran a music store and honed his production chops.

Some other members of the later versions of the band put away their dancing shoes and exited Nashville and show biz; wiser for the wear. It seemed as though all they had collectively wrought would simply fade into history. The primary five went their own way treating every day as the rest of their lives without being in the band.

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