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August 26, 2011 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Tim Hardin : underrated singer-songwriter of the '60s and '70s, or the most underrated singer-songwriter of the '60s and '70s? Known mostly for more famous singers covering his work, his songs were sung by a plethora of people, from Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Rod Stewart to Astrud Gilberto, Bob Dylan, Robert Plant and Echo & the Bunnymen, while he remained a very little-known but widely loved figure in folk music. He music could be painfully honest (Reason to Believe, Don't Make Promises), or slow and hypnotizing (Misty Roses). Sadly, 6 days after his 39th birthday, he died from a heroin overdose in 1980.

If I Were A Carpenter
Simple Song of Freedom
Tribute to Hank Williams
If I Knew
Whiskey Whiskey
How Can We Hang On To A Dream
And, IMHO, the best version of Bird On A Wire out there.

And so, so much more great songs not yet on the internetz. (Previously)
posted by Drainage! (18 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
My initial reaction was, "Most underrated singer-songwriter of the '60s and '70s? Died relatively young? Get in line behind Tim Buckley and Phil Ochs, bub." Then I realized that it was that "Reason to Believe." Well, alright, then.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:56 AM on August 26, 2011

He was great.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:57 AM on August 26, 2011

Okkervil River's album Black Sheep Boy is concept album about the life of Tim Hardin. It is one of the best things.

It was named after and includes a cover of a Tim Hardin song. Great song.

From the album:
Black Sheep Boy
For Real
In a Radio Song
Get Big
A King and a Queen
A Stone
The Latest Toughs
Song of Our So-Called Friend
So Come Back I Am Waiting
A Glow
Missing CHildren
No Key, No Plan
A Garden
Black Sheep Boy #4
The Next Four Months
Another Radio Song
A Forest (couldn't find)
Last Love Song For Now

I don't intend this to be a derail, but ever since I heard Black Sheep Boy, I cannot stop from linking the two to each other.
posted by jsturgill at 6:59 AM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

Three things:

1) Black Sheep Boy is another wonderful Hardin song.

2) As much as I like Hardin's Misty Roses, Colin Blunstone's version is the one that really kills me.

3) Did Ron Sexsmith take his whole vocal style from Hardin?
posted by ericthegardener at 7:04 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Great post--Hardin is unsung (so to speak). My favorite version of Misty Roses is Colin Blunstone's, from his basically perfect solo album, One Year. I was at a thrift store recently and was flipping through the records and saw an album called Misty Roses by an easy listening group from the 60s called The Sandpipers. Bought it. The album's decent easy-listening pop--but Misty Roses is so unfucwitable as a song that it made me think I'd like an album consisting only of covers of Misty Roses.

And don't forget Reputation, covered by Gram Parsons and The Byrds, whose killer version is, for some reason, not on teh weBN.
posted by Zerowensboring at 7:04 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by Zerowensboring at 7:05 AM on August 26, 2011

I've had Lady Came from Baltimore going round in my head for the past two days - beautiful, beautiful song.
posted by Catseye at 7:41 AM on August 26, 2011

Simple Song of Freedom was written and later sung by Bobby Darin, in 1969, after Tim Hardin had a hit with it. Here's Darin acknowledging a turn of favors in song writing/covers between he and Hardin.
posted by paulsc at 8:04 AM on August 26, 2011

I loved Tim Hardin! Thank you for the reminder.
posted by growabrain at 9:42 AM on August 26, 2011

"Misty Roses" is one of the best written songs of the last 50 years. I first recall hearing it on a Fifth Dimension album, believe it or not. Great post.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 9:54 AM on August 26, 2011

Not really aware of this dude, thanks!
Reason to Believe has always been one of my favorite songs. Especially since it does all the little weird pauses here and there.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:36 AM on August 26, 2011

A couple of outliers for you:

Hang on to a Dream performed by the Nice, live on Beat Club (1969). Possibly Lee Jackson's best (least bad) vocal performance, and rare video of how he'd play the bass guitar with a bow. They also recorded a studio version with a chorus.

If I Were a Carpenter performed by Leon Russell. Leon updates the lyrics a bit for Stop all that Jazz (1974).
posted by Herodios at 10:51 AM on August 26, 2011

Great post -- thanks. I only learned about him via Paul Weller (he covered "Black Sheep Boy" several years back, and talked about what a influence Hardin was on his first several solo records in the '90s). He's one of those artists that once you know about him, it's hard to believe you never heard him your whole life.
posted by scody at 11:09 AM on August 26, 2011

'How can we hang on to a dream' made Hardin a sudden hero in the Netherlands, in the late 1980s. Because of its use in the movie Zoeken naar Eileen.
posted by ijsbrand at 11:09 AM on August 26, 2011

He's so good, hadn't really thought of him as under-rated, though. The third album, the live one, is my favorite because it's got all his best songs in one place and it actually rocks.

Nico's heartbreaking cover of "Eulogy to Lenny Bruce" is another interesting Hardin interpretation, and there's also Scott Walker's terrific "Black Sheep Boy" (from Scott 2) which doesn't seem to be online anywhere. Here's his throwaway "Lady Came from Baltimore," though.

And yeah, Blunstone's "Misty Roses" is one of the most gorgeous recordings ever made. All of One Year is amazing.
posted by Scram at 11:10 AM on August 26, 2011

There's also a psychedelicized version of Hang on to Dream by the 1960s band Gandalf.
posted by jonp72 at 11:40 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned 'It'll Never Happen Again' yet. Unfortunately it seems to have disappeared from YouTube, which is a shame because I'd like to have linked to what is the musical definition of melancholy...

'Speak Like A Child' is also superb.
posted by niceness at 1:01 AM on August 27, 2011

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