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“Into the Night” with Eric Andersen and the “Blind Fiddler”

singout003 (1)So this morning,after I finished exercising in the basement, I looked up on the bookshelf at a copy of a 1968 Sing Out Magazine. I decided to bring it upstairs and look through it! As I’ve read through it today, I’ve been thinking about the world of folk music. Back in the late 50s and early 60s most of the folk groups and performers sang real “folk songs” .i.e. songs that were handed down from generation to generation sometimes for hundreds of years!! In the late 60s and the 70s folksingers changed into singer-songwriters and there was a movement away from the traditional songs to a more introspective songwriting.and now today there are very few performers singing those old-time songs

Now let’s get back to the magazine. The first song that I stumbled upon was “The Blind Fiddler” as performed by Eric Andersen. The introduction to the song was written by Gordon Friesen and tells the story of a trip that Arthur Gorson, who was a performers manager, working with a committee to help the unemployed coal miners took with a group of young musicians to Kentucky. Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs and Eric Andersen were among the topical songwriters who made the trip. The trip inspired all three to write some pretty good songs. Paxton wrote “The High Sheriff of Hazard, while Ochs penned three songs; “Hazard Kentucky”, “No Christmas in Kentucky” and “The Hills of West Virginia”. Eric Andersen reworked a song originally performed by Emma Dussenberry. Eric’s first-hand experiences in Kentucky allowed him to add new depth and feeling to the song.

Concluding Friesen writes:

It all tends to support Woody Guthrie’s belief (and not his alone) that a really good song can only come when you when you personally involve yourself with the people and events that you are writing about…..

 

…Maybe our songwriters of today need an Art Gorson to take them where the American people continue to struggle, to the peace rallies,to the increasing militant conventions of the poor. A Gorson or better yet a Cesar Chavez should have invited all our songwriter-performers to join in with the striking California grape workers, the Heugistas on their recent 300-mile pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento. That’s were Woody Guthrie would have been!.

And in today’s world maybe that’s were some of the Tea Baggers in Congress should be forced to live!! Then we’ll see how many programs they want to cut!!

So let’s go “into the night” with Eric Andersen’s “Blind Fiddler” – You can watch Stephen Stills version of the song here

Here are the lyrics of the song as it was recorded by Eliza Carthy and included on her first solo album, Heat Light & Sound. This track was also included on the anthology New Electric Muse. She commented in her album’s sleeve notes:

An American song, learned from Pete Seeger via my Dad and a banjo. It was collected from Emma Dewsbury, who sold it in return for a cow. More

I lost my eyes in the blacksmith’s shop in the year of ’56
While cleaning out a T-flange that was out of fix
It bounded up from out of the tongs and there concealed my doom
I’m a blind fiddler and far from my home
I’ve been to San Francisco, I’ve been to Dr Lane
He operated on one of my eyes, nothing could he gain
He says I will be blind for life, there’s no use to mourn
I’m a blind fiddler and far from my home

I have a wife and three little babes depending now on me
They go through all my trials, wherever they may be
I hope that they’ll be happy now while I am forced to roam
I’m a blind fiddler and far from my home