Last week I took a look at the modern folk supergroup Cry Cry Cry. I hoped to inspire interest in the songs or the performers. Over the next few weeks I thought I would post videos of some of the same kind of lesser known songs that have hit me with the force of revelation at various points in my life. To me they feel like stones in the road.
This is inherently personal. If the idea rubs you the wrong way and you don’t have something good to say in the comments, please don’t say it. As Kenny Loggins puts it in “Peace of Mind” — one of the songs that probably belongs here — “Blessed be the one who can understand why people have to act that way…” I’ll add a personal note or two about the song and/or the performer to try to pique your interest.
Richard Thompson made a name for himself in the British folk group Fairport Convention. He subsequently met and married Linda Peters, with whom he released a classic series of albums. The series of albums with Linda Thompson culminated in Shoot Out the Lights, chronicling the breakup of their marriage. If a limited vocalist, he is nevertheless a terrific guitarist and songwriter.
Thompson wrote the song “Persuasion” with Tim Finn, formerly of the group Crowded House and a talented musician in his own right. In the video below, Richard performs “Persuasion” with his son, Teddy Thompson. I think Teddy inherited the vocal gifts of his mother. The father-son version of a song inviting the renewal of a relationship hits home in a special way, as you can observe watching the audience in the video below. The video quality is not good, but the sound is terrific.
I love the folk artist Jonatha Brooke. She teamed up with her Amherst classmate Jennifer Kimball to form The Story for her first few albums. One of the highlights of her work with Kimball is Jonatha’s song “So Much Mine,” a song about a wayward daughter told from the point of view of the mother. The live solo version below lacks Jennifer Kimball’s moving harmony part, but Jonatha brings out all the feelings in the song in this live performance. “Where’s the heart in me that made the one in you so cold?” What a superb song.
As a folk duo, Jonatha and Jennifer must have studied up on Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. Indeed, Jonatha contributed the Paul Simon tribute to the excellent out-of-print compilation Bleecker Street: Greenwich Village in the 60’s. Jonatha leads off the compilation with a knockout version of Simon’s “Bleecker Street” (below), from the first Simon & Garfunkel album. It’s a young man’s song; Simon was still finding his voice and quickly perfecting his craft. “It’s a long road to Canaan on Bleecker Street…”
Venturing out on her own, Jonatha has pursued a successful solo career. We went to see Jonatha’s autobiographical one-woman show My Mother Has Four Noses in New York two years ago. Jonatha wrote the book, the music, and the lyrics. We left with tears in our eyes. What a moving show.
I wrote about the show in “Jonatha Brooke gets it down.” I even posted a picture of myself with Jonatha in the lobby after the show. Hey, I said these are personal notes.