Thank You Tom PaxtonTim Grimm 1CD (12 tracks) Folk Release date: 29 May 2011
I know that Tom has influenced many, many artists over the years, among them the fine actor and singer-songwriter Tim Grimm. On his new album, Thank You Tom Paxton, Tim sets aside his own songs in favour of a dozen of Tom’s dating from as early as the early-‘60s to as recent as 2007.
Tim includes a very nice version of “The Last Thing On My Mind,” unarguably the best known and most-often covered of Tom Paxton’s songs. There are several other well-known songs on the album, but several of Tim’s choices are more obscure.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard another cover version of “General Custer,” a satirical look at the demise of the ill-fated Custer at Little Big Horn that was on Tom’s never-reissued 1971 LP, How Come the Sun. Tim gives the song a fine bluegrass treatment with able backing from the White Lightning Boys. Other lesser-known Paxton songs that Tim brings to life include “Bishop Cody’s Last Request,” done in a folk-rock arrangement faithful to the song’s late-‘60s origins, and a lovely version of “All Night Long,” a meditation on late-night loneliness and doubt, and on the power of song.
Some of the other highlights – can you really pick highlights from an album of songs that are all great? – include a duet with Joe Crookston on “Rumblin’ in the Land,” a song about hard times that seems just as relevant in 2011 as it was when Tom wrote it almost half a century ago; “Fare Thee Well, Cisco,” a loving tribute to the great folksinger Cisco Houston, who died young from lung cancer at just about the time that Tom was starting his career; and beautiful versions of such Midge-inspired love songs as “Home To Me” and “I Give You the Morning.”
Another highlight – which I would have sequenced as the album closer – is a beautiful version of the inspiring “How Beautiful Upon the Mountain,” a recent song that Tom wrote in tribute to the likes ofPete Seeger, Martin Luther King and others who’ve led the way to peace and true social justice.
I really like Tim’s arrangements of these songs, some of which are faithful to Tom’s original versions, some of which take the songs in different directions. And, in addition to those already mentioned, I’ll also call attention to some fine contributions from guitarist Jason Wilber, Tim’s co-producer (who is also a fine singer-songwriter but is best known for being John Prine’s lead guitarist), and angelic harmony singers Sarah and Claire Bowman.