A “Not Bob Dylan”- The Music Of Tom Paxton-An Encore
Live At Huntingdon Hall, Tom Paxton, 2007
A couple of years ago I did a series of reviews of male folk artists from the 1960s folk revival whom I had listened to, liked for one reason or another, and wondered aloud about why they had not achieved the lasting fame and fortune of the iconic male folksinger of the period, Bob Dylan. The musician under review, Tom Paxton, a fellow denizen of the Greenwich Village folk scene along with Dylan and fellow madman, the late Dave Van Ronk, in the early 1960s was one of those I reviewed. I chalked Paxton's “failure” to be Bob Dylan up to his association to one that Van Ronk character and his stubborn willfulness not to attain celebrity at the price of folk purity. And I do not think I am wrong on that account.
Fast forward to recent times. Tom and I find ourselves across from each other at a locally famous Cambridge coffee house (aka folk club) where he performed many of the songs from this live album-live. The voice may not have that same resonance, the on-stage patter may be a little threadbare but he still performed (along with guitarist Geoff Bartley) very nicely thank you. That, after all, is why a folk aficionado like myself goes to see the “old-timers”. To see if they still have that something from the old days, all proportions guarded, of course.
Moreover on this album , Paxton’s old standard, his eternal standard, the one he has stated that he never tires of singing, "Last Thing On My Mind”, is worth the price of admission, as it was here. Also a newer one, “Comedians and Angels”.
The Last Thing on my Mind
Words and Music by Tom Paxton
It's a lesson too late for the learnin'
Made of sand, made of sand
In the wink of an eye my soul is turnin'
In your hand, in your hand.
Are you going away with no word of farewell?
Will there be not a trace left behind?
Well, I could have loved you better,
Didn't mean to be unkind.
You know that was the last thing on my mind.
You've got reasons a-plenty for goin'.
This I know, this I know.
For the weeds have been steadily growin'.
Please don't go, please don't go.
As we walk on, my thoughts are a-tumblin',
Round and round, round and round.
Underneath our feet the subways rumblin',
As I lie in my bed in the mornin',
Without you, without you.
Every song in my breast dies a bornin',
Without you, without you.
Someone has written a parody verse for this song and it must have tickled Paxton's funny bone because he's sung it in the UK and it's on his "Live in the UK" Album. Roger Peek was kind enough to send the lyrics:
Well I met this young girl at a folk club,
Like you do, like you do.
So I bought her a drink and we chatted,
Wouldn't you, wouldn't you.
And then after the show she invited me home,
And she said we were two of a kind,
Then she played me every record
That Tom Paxton ever made,
And you know that was the last thing on my mind.