John (not Jon) Stewart dead at 68
January 21, 2008 12:05 PM   Subscribe

'Daydream Believer' writer Stewart, who came to prominence in the 1960s as a member of folk music's Kingston Trio, died Saturday at a San Diego hospital after suffering a brain aneurism. He was 68. The Monkees version of his biggest hit. But Stewart, one of our greatest singer/songwriters never achieved the level of fame many of us felt he deserved. No matter, he seemed to prefer the intimacy of small clubs and released dozens of albums, like the timelessCalifornia Bloodlines and scores of other beautiful songs, such as July, You Are A Woman, Walk On the Moon and his own aged like a fine bourbon rendition of Daydream Believer.
posted by dawson (23 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by ZachsMind at 12:06 PM on January 21, 2008

Sorry. I mislabeled a link. Hopefully you'll still get the point, and the poignancy.
posted by dawson at 12:16 PM on January 21, 2008

See, and I have always thought Neil Diamond wrote Daydream Believer.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:31 PM on January 21, 2008

Close. Neil Diamond wrote "I'm a Believer", miss l.

The Monkees had some damned good songwriters.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:36 PM on January 21, 2008

posted by rocket88 at 12:47 PM on January 21, 2008

John wasn't huge in my personal pantheon of artists, but I enjoyed his post-Dave Guard work with the KT, and admire his tenacious retention of his ideals despite the passage of time and being personal witness to Bobby Kennedy's demise.

If you ever get a chance, listen to "Botswana" from his "Punch the Big Guy" album.
posted by bigskyguy at 12:49 PM on January 21, 2008

Route66News.Org has a nice writeup about Stewart's connection to Route 66, and the music he wrote about it
posted by timsteil at 1:15 PM on January 21, 2008

One of those small clubs he frequented was Tin Angel in Philadelphia -- I put up a little 2006 interview WXPN's Dan Reed did with Stewart during a live broadcast from the club. He talks about writing "Daydream Believer" and then segues into a performance of "American Way." From that same broadcast, Stewart performs "Jasmine" from his latest record and "Runaway Train," "that my dear friend Rosanne Cash recorded." Later, he talks more about writing the well-known hit and then performs a live version of "Daydream Believer." "I almost didn't do anything with the song."
posted by gac at 1:22 PM on January 21, 2008

Those tags are a tad scrambled. Can they be repaired?
posted by Nabubrush at 1:24 PM on January 21, 2008

I loved the Kingston Trio as a kid. Thank you for reintroducing me to one of them. (Not thankful for his demise, but thankful for the music he left.)
posted by not_on_display at 1:28 PM on January 21, 2008

For years I only knew Stewart as the guy that I didn't like as much as Dave Guard in the Kingston Trio, but just recently I found out that he had written some incredibly great songs (DD Believer, Never Goin' Back, and Runaway Train). Then I went back to his era of Kingston Trio and realized that I had judged him way too harshly. Now I wish I picked up one of those 2 "Dream Babies" records that seemed to be in every used bin cheap in the early 80s. Thanks for helping me connect the dots as everything he's done. Is there a good career retrospective CD out there?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:20 PM on January 21, 2008

posted by Smart Dalek at 2:25 PM on January 21, 2008

aww, Sad he died.

Thanks for being an important part of my life John Stewart. Wishing you peace.

An aneurysm isn't a fun way to go, it really hurts. A large percent of people die on the way to the hospital after a major aneurysm and, if not, then 50% die within the first month after that. Apparently he'd been having mini aneurysms for years and then bust a gasket. Wonder if there are supplements that help prevent this? Like magnesium citrate? John had been informed that he was suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease and was anxious to play and record as much as possible before the debilitating effects of the disease took hold in earnest. He had just completed work on his to-be final album.

I grew up on my older brother's Kingston Trio albums. This one in particular, The College Concert. The Kingston Trio was an American folk and pop music group formed in 1957. They helped launch the folk revival of the late-1950s to early 1960s.

They were an interesting group at that time, melding the intense political activism of Woody Guthrie style folk singing with the Dobie Gillis collegiate quasi-beatnik, hipster zeitgeist of the very early 60's. They had a sense of humor, a wry intelligence about them, which was hard to express in those post WWII square, heavy handed corporate fascist days. There wasn't much room for hipness then without being really punished for it and The Kingston Trio brought a sense of quiet subversiveness to colleges. Nothing radical, but mischievous. They were in that transitional time just before folk music and rock formed some kind of social nuclear reaction of anti-war music in the mid-60's with Bob Dylan's Hard Rain's Gonna Fall, Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth. Things just went kaboom socially after that.

John Stewart's singing in that group is deeply embedded in my being, the way the music of one's childhood is. Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Early Morning Rain. Greenback Dollar, their last performance in their heyday, Little Light.

My condolences to his wife, Buffy, and their kids.
posted by nickyskye at 3:08 PM on January 21, 2008

posted by JanetLand at 3:58 PM on January 21, 2008

I didn't know the guy who sang "Gold" was in the Kingston Trio. Until today.
posted by stevil at 4:49 PM on January 21, 2008

Sometimes I feel like I might be the youngest Kingston Trio fan by at least a generation, but my dad always kept a tape of their Greatest Hits album in the car for every road trip my family ever took in my childhood. There was something so fun and catchy about their silly songs like "M.T.A.," and something so beautiful about some of their more serious ones, like "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," that was irresistible to me as a youngster, well before I could really appreciate the lyrical content. It was quite a surprise, and a treat, to go back with the wisdom of a few more years and look up the words again.

Not to mention that I can't help but think of these guys every time I see "A Mighty Wind"

posted by cobra_high_tigers at 5:13 PM on January 21, 2008

I didn't know the guy who sang "Gold" was in the Kingston Trio. Until today.

Here it is, top ten from 1979.
posted by evilcolonel at 6:53 PM on January 21, 2008

I loved listening to my dad's Kingston Trio albums growing up, and just a few weeks ago I stumbled across John Stewart and Darwin's Army.

posted by frobozz at 7:02 PM on January 21, 2008

posted by eritain at 11:40 PM on January 21, 2008

posted by El Brendano at 1:46 AM on January 22, 2008

Daydream Believer and Walk Away Renee are 2 of my all-time favorite songs. Every time I hear them, I get this strange....sad feeling.
posted by doctorschlock at 7:45 AM on January 22, 2008

I worshiped Steward for California Bloodlines, Willard, The Phoenix Concerts. After that, he did a major shark jump for me, and by the time he put out Bombs Away Dream Babies, I could not even be bothered.

He was a very good live act to see, though.

I am sad for his passing.
posted by Danf at 9:23 AM on January 22, 2008

I inadvertantly did not add '.' up there.

I fondly remember as a youngster listening to my father's Kingston Trio albums.
posted by Nabubrush at 10:20 AM on January 22, 2008

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