Whose Garden Was This?: Tom Paxton

Dave Van Ronk claimed that it was really Tom Paxton of the NYC folk scene who first claimed the mantel of singer/songwriter among folkies, daring to sing mainly his own songs in the cafés, which led the way to Dylan and Ochs. Here’s a great Paxton song from fifty years ago that could have been written yesterday.

Monday morning, for all that’s been lost.

More at Tom Paxton – Topic

At Seventeen: Janis Ian

Monday morning, a song for misfits.

At the time, 1975, the song was a  highly unlikely candidate for a pop hit. It may have been the first pop song for young women of high school age that wasn’t for the cheerleaders. It might be hard to recall now, in the age of Glee, but songs examining the inner lives of high school students who saw themselves as social outcasts were not, at the time, the common fare. Millions of young women saw themselves in the lyrics of the song, and suddenly the singer/songwriter, Janis Ian, who at age 14 had had a qualified (and often censored) hit with her song of interracial love, “Society’s Child,” was overnight an international star.

The clip above seems so raw, true, and natural that you might think it was just an amateur effort turned lucky. But Ian by that time had already had seven albums of music released and was an accomplished songwriter. It was the one time, though, she said, that she had penned a song and told her manager that she had just written a hit.

Thanks to YouTuber LittleMonster13100

Fast Car


Tracy Chapman was an unlikely singer/songwriter to chart in the top 10 in 1988, but there was something so pure, authentic, and truthful in her singing that this song resonated with many and, improbably, became a hit.

Thanks to YouTuber Folk & Country on MV

Simple Twist of Fate


A younger Carson McKee with a laid-backed version of the Dylan song. Carson sings the story and lyrics of the song so simply and straightforwardly that he makes it sound like an American Songbook standard.

More at Carson McKee

Heart Of The Country


Josh Turner and friends cover the Paul McCartney ditty from the Ram album. I really enjoyed the extended banjo, fiddle, bass, and drum chorus at the end. And how the heck does Josh do that video editing, keeping all the audio in synch?

More Josh Turner at Josh Turner Guitar

Heaven’s Door


I’ve posted a great Dylan version of this song on the blog previously, but Monday morning I’m posting this one too, because it’s very good, and we’re all looking over our shoulders these days.

More at Josh Turner Guitar

Small Circle Of Friends


That time when Joni Mitchell dropped by Gordon Lightfoot’s place and Bob Dylan and Roger McGuinn just happened to be there…

Fly on the wall time…

Thanks to YouTuber Swingin’ Pig



Monday morning, moon and monkeyshines as the family that stills together, trills together.

Josh Turner, Carson McKee, Reina del Cid, and Toni Lindgren with some pretty great banjo, guitar, and mandolin plucking.

You Can’t Get Stoned Enough: Phil Ochs


Every once in a while an old demo tape or casual recording of Phil Ochs singing turns up. He wrote far more songs than he ever recorded commercially, so it’s always a treat to find one I haven’t heard before.

Thanks to YouTuber Boot Leg

“So Hoist Up The John B. Sails”


Monday morning, taking the worst trip you’ve ever been on. An A-1 cover of the Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B.” Josh Turner on guitar and falsetto really nails it here.

Alec Hamilton (keys), Ben Cooley (Tenor, tambourine) Josh Turner (Electric Guitar), Taylor Bloom (Acoustic Guitar), Marc Encabo (Bass) and Bob Sale (Drums).

Thanks to YouTuber Josh Turner Guitar

“Go To Sleep, You Weary Hobo”


Woody Guthrie’s rendition of Goebbel Reeves’s “Hobo Lullaby,” a song about a heaven where there are no policemen around to harass anyone.

That’s David Carradine playing Woody hopping the boxcars in Hal Ashby’s film, Bound For Glory.

Thanks to YouTuber FreeNeverSaid

“Autumn Leaves Must Fall…”


Chad and Jeremy singing “A Summer Song” 40 years after it was first released in 1964.

Thanks to YouTuber Independent Musicians Foundation

“Our Steps Will Always Rhyme…”


Leonard Cohen and Judy Collins singing Cohen’s “Hey That’s No Way to Say Good-Bye.” I like this version better than either of each artist’s solo take because of the beautiful harmony here by Judy Collins.

Thanks to YouTuber Beta Hi-Fi Archive

Freckled Ocean


Friday morning becomes more mellow and folksy with Mike and Ruthy:

Trade your tea cup of sorrows for a morsel of delight,
Trade your apathetic afternoons for one unblinking night.
With your battle scars and beauty
and your velvet undertow
Sail, with me, the freckled ocean
Be ye friend or foe.
All my bright kites of desire tug away all day
and the wind is pulling harder than the will to stay.
Leave the anchor at the harbor
and throw away the chain.
Sail with me, the freckled ocean
past the pier of your pain.
Are ye yellow as old butter with your classroom nerves
and your youthful fears expanded like a woman’s curves.
Will you birth a better moment?
Will you kiss it on the head?
Sail with me, the freckled ocean
When you rise from bed.
When I find my love,
How will I know?
How will I know?
Will I turn to stone?
Or will I go?
Oh, Oh, Oh
The grass along the seashore
is bowing in the breeze,
Like the lashes of the bashful down upon their bended knees.
There’s the memoir of an elephant
In every tiny seed,
Sail with me, the freckled ocean,
for as long as you need.
Ooooh, Ooooh, Ooooh


Thanks to YouTuber FolkAlleydotCom

Ashokan Farewell


At the close of each Summer Hoot Music Festival at Ashokan, Jay Ungar, Molly Mason, Mike Meranda, and Ruthy Ungar play Jay’s heartbreakingly beautiful ballad, Ashokan Farewell.

Jay and Ruthy on fiddle, Molly on guitar, Mike on Banjo.

The end of summer. We’ll miss you, Ashokan.

Thanks to YouTuber FolkAlleydotCom