Books by Tom Paxton (Author of Going to the Zoo)
Comedians & Angels
Tom Paxton | Comedians & Angels (2007)
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Tom Paxton, 70 years young and ever the New Deal democrat, stands tall for the proud, idealistic bunch that were the folk song pioneers of the s. The years have robbed Paxton of none of his sensitivity or his puckish sense of humour, and while his voice may betray the odd quiver, he can still turn a decent tune or three. There are songs to Paxton's daughters, mentions of his grandchildren, odes to his wife, and reflections on the "comedians and angels" including the Clancys that swarmed around New York's Greenwich Village in the s. It is solid rather than spectacular, but Jim Rooney's homely production radiates a warm glow. California-born Nels Andrews has travelled extensively the length and breath of his country picking up stories and experiences, which he distils into his songs of atmospheric detail. Andrews is now based in Brooklyn, and his second album is a strong example of new folk.
Although his profile outside folk circles may be low, Paxton is still a vital artist, as this fine collection shows. The songs here, delivered by Paxton and a band of pickers adept at folk, acoustic pop, and country styles, deal with love, marriage, aging, and mortality. Love songs that deal with long-term relationships are few and far between in pop music. Paxton avoids all those traps with nine delicious tunes to his wife Midge. These love songs will bring a glow to anyone who has ever experienced a long-term love affair or successful marriage.
Lyrics for album: Ain't That News (2005)
Over the decades he's also written his fair share of love songs, so an album entirely made up of love songs, old and new, is not much of a stretch. Though there are no protest songs per se, he begins the album with a love song, "How Beautiful Upon the Mountain", where love is expressed through a good old-fashioned peace march. Older than that is his source material for the chorus, a Bible verse. It's the one song on the album that implicitly suggests that the entirety of Paxton's work over the years has, in some basic sense, been love songs. It isn't clear what has happened to that promise of a new world, though the last verse suggests it's still a promise, that the generations to come have continued the same march for change. Still, a romantic sense of the past lingers, as it does in the tribute to friends that gives the album its title, and in other small corners of the album. In the first it leads to pondering of the way life got better over time, and how those years have blurred together because of it.
A new release from maestro Tom Paxton is an occasion to be savoured. Paxton has been a stalwart of the folk and protest genre for more than a generation, and reaching his three-score-and-ten has dimmed neither his voice nor his talent for writing. Most of the 15 musical treats on offer here come exclusively from his wonderful mind, pen and guitar, and it contains some genuine gems. The opening track, "How Beautiful on the Mountain," sets the scene with his ode to the peacemakers as he dips into Biblical imagery allied to a stirring tune with suitable backing vocals. The majority of the tracks here he classes as love songs, and he dedicates them in the main to his wife and daughters. He reminds us of his earlier works with a new rendition of "When We Were Good. A generation grew up with Paxton and his music, and now this CD offers that experience to a new generation.