The other day when I was listening and looking for Buffett music I came across a cassette tape of Tom Paxton’s 1994 release on Sugar Hill Wearing The Time and for the last few days it’s been sitting on the computer desk. Well this morning I looked at the tracks and realized that the album had a lot of good tracks so I put it in the tape player and gave it a listen! The neat thing about this cassette is that along with the great music Tom wrote a little blurb about each song. So here’s what he wrote about some of the tracks on the album.
The album opens with two songs about Tom’s home state of Oklahoma first “Along the Verdegris” followed by “Passing Through Tulsa” The fourth song on the first side is “Anytime” Tom says that “Even after all these years the influence of Mississippi John Hurt is still apparent. This is a riff driven song – a kinda song that just grew from messing around in G and then putting the capo up three frets”. The next two songs were co-written “Wearing the Time” the title track was written with Susan Graham White who at the time was a young songwriter from Maryland . They wrote the song by fax and phone and then finished it at the Martha’s Vineyard Songwriters’ Retreat organized by Christine Lavin. The last track on Side 1 is “Blue Mountain Road” co-written with Eric Weisberg of “Dueling Banjo’s” fame. One night at a concert they played together in Albany, New York Weisberg played Paxton the chorus and Tom asked to take a crack at the verses and after several faxes and phone calls they had a great song!
Side Two opens with “The First Song is For You” (a favorite of mine) for his wife Midge. Paxton writes “For Midge, one, now forever. No one has ever had a better friend, lover, partner. Ever. Fifteen minutes after she accepted my proposal she met a photographer friend of hers who snapped a portrait which I had framed and hung on the wall of my study. Whenever I’m at a loss for ideas I can always get started by taking a look at that picture”. The other songs on Side Two include “Coffee in Bed’ about which Tom writes that Dan Quayle thinks the song is about coffee! “When I go to See My Son” a poignant song about divorce, “Johnny Got a Gun” a song about kids having guns and the damage it does! Next is his familiar “Bottle of Wine” and the album ends with another favorite “The Honor of Your Company” about which Paxton writes “ This song is for Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman, Lee Hayes, Woody Guthrie, Cisco Houston, Burl Ives, Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt and so many others I’ve met on this wonderful road. It’s also so very much for the people who’ve marched with us around the White House and the Pentagon and over the bridge at Selma. You know who you are and it’s been an honor to know you” . It’s a great song and part of a great album. The album may not have a lot of Tom’s humor and political incite but it has a lot of great songs and should be converted to mp3’s! So if you don’t know Tom’s music this album is a good place to start!
Tom Paxton’s “Gettin’ Up Early” (from the album) Videoed in Jacob’s Ladder Folk Festival, Israel July 1st 1994