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Great stuff, though I find some of his albums a lot more listenable than others . His "Big Rock Candy Mountain" stole the show IMO, in the movie "Down from the Mountain". And I've been known to claim that "Baking Soda" from the 1967 Earthwords album is actually the first Rap song on record - check it out.
His novelty songs were great, but he was so much more than that. It's hard for me not to have to say that my favorite is Gentle on My Mind. I also love Tall Buildings, a beautiful ballad about losing ones childhood to grow up and work in tall buildings.
John was a real master of old fiddle tunes. I loved what he used to say about them. His wife said she hated them because they all had funny names and sounded the same. John loved them. Because they all had funny names and sounded the same.
Ricky Skaggs, no slouch himself, once said if there was one person no one wanted to follow it was John Hartford. He said he looked out one night and the once full auditorium was only about half full. Hartford had formed a conga line and was circling the building with the missing half--outside. I once saw him in person and I don't think I have ever seen anyone who could walk on stage with a fiddle, tap shoes, and a hat, and have the audience in the palm of his hand.
Champtree--I agree, the tribute album is special.
A friend of mine took his eight year old daughter to see Hartford at the Missouri Botanical Garden auditorium, and grabbed a front row seat. During a sing-along, John was winking and crossing his eyes at her, and she was giggling...That was John Hartford.
I saw him perform a couple of years before he passed, and it was a great show!
Anyone ever get his autograph? (as always, in the old steamboat ledger "script" style)