This various artists anthology featured three songs recorded by Richard.
Two of them,
"Bold Marauder" and
"House Un-American Blues Activity Dream," were recorded again for Richard & Mimi's
second album, Reflections in a Crystal Wind.
Although the Singer Songwriter tracks are not quite as polished as the later
versions, they are still very good. The difference between
the two versions lies mainly in the absence of Mimi's voice. She was not
credited in the liner notes, so we can't be certain that the guitar playing
is hers, but it does sound like her style. If these were demo tapes that
were recorded for Elektra when Richard and Mimi were shopping around for
a label, it would be highly unlikely that Mimi would not play on them. But
the tracks may have been recorded under other circumstances, perhaps
to publicize Richard as a songwriter and get more of his songs recorded by
other people. It's also
possible that their Vanguard contract prevented them from recording as a duo,
which would explain why Mimi was left out of the credits.
Singer Songwriter Project
Mono: Elektra EKS-299
Stereo: Elektra EKS-7299
Re-issued on CD in October, 2001 as Elektra 8122 73568-2
Production Supervisor: Jac Holzman
Recording Director: Paul A. Rothchild
Cover Photos: David Gahr
Cover Design:William S. Harvey
Liner notes by Richard Fariņa and Josh Dunson.
Broadside (New York). no. 63, October 16, 1965. By Edmund O. Ward.
The third song, "Birmingham Sunday," was not recorded
again by Richard or Mimi, and is therefore one of Richard Fariņa's rarer songs.
This is ironic because it is also one of his more famous songs. Sung to the
tune of the Scottish ballad, "I Once Loved A Lass," this elegy
commemorates the lives and innocence of the four girls who were killed in
the vicious bombing of an African-American church in Birmingham, Alabama in
1963. Joan Baez had debuted the song at the 1964 Newport Folk
Festival and recorded it that year for her
album, Joan Baez 5. Her version is also heard at the beginning of Spike Lee's
documentary, 4 Little Girls. More recently, Tom Paxton and Anne Hills
recorded "Birmingham Sunday" for their 2001 album, Under American
In addition to the songs, the album is also important for the liner notes Richard
wrote, a mini-essay on some of the idiosyncrasies and contradictions
of the urban folk revival. Richard's musings on the nature of the folksong as a medium may
have been influenced by Marshall McLuhan's
controversial book, Understanding
Media, published a year before this album.
For many years Singer Songwriter Project was a rare, expensive collector's
Fortunately, the album has recently been re-issued on CD in England together with
David Blue's first solo album, with the complete liner notes as well (NOTE:
one track by Patrick Sky was left off this CD). Make sure you
get the Elektra release that has the *two* albums on one CD--there is a Collector's
Choice release of just David Blue without Singer Songwriter.
The CD reissue.
Detail of the Fariņa photo by David Gahr.
- House Un-American Blues Activity Dream
- Birmingham Sunday
- Bold Marauder
- Too Many Times
*(not included on the CD re-issue)
- Talking Socialized Anti-Undertaker Blues
- Many a Mile
- Rompin' Rovin' Days
- Down in Mississippi
- Farewell my Friend
- Try 'n' Ask
- I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning
- It's Alright with Me
- Don't Get Caught in a Storm
A note on the other performers:
David Blue went by the name David Cohen on the Singer Songwriter LP
but changed his name to David Blue by the time he released his first solo album,
in 1966. Eric Andersen gave him this name because he was "gruff, nasty, unsmiling
and suspicious." Bob Spitz, on the other hand, in his Dylan: A Biography,
described David Blue as "the funniest, coolest, craziest, and quickest-on-the-draw
of the bunch" in the folk
scene (p. 345). That book also shows a photo of him with Richard Fariņa and Donovan
at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Judy Collins recalls her friendship with
Blue in her autobiography, Trust Your Heart (pp. 131-132), noting that he
died of a heart attack while running in Central Park in 1984.
Patrick Sky recorded his first album in 1965 on Vanguard, though he had
also played guitar on Buffy Sainte-Marie's first album, in 1964. He hopped
from label to label through the 60s and 70s, and is remembered best today for his
bitterly satirical and politically provocative album, Songs That Made America
Famous (Adelphi, 1973).
Bruce Murdoch is much more obscure than the others, and I don't have much
info on him. He had made a name for himself throughout the Quebec folk scene by
the age of 17, and was discovered by Richie Havens' manager Jacob Solmon. Havens
reports in his autobiography, They Can't Hide Us Anymore, that Mudoch was
a prodigy who was so brilliant and well-read that he taught a literature course
at McGill University. Solmon and Havens introduced Murdoch to the Greenwich
Village scene, and in 1970 he recorded an album, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per
Minute on Richie Haven's label, Stormy Forest. Apparently he stopped
performing in the late 70s and eventually became
a high school principal in Alberta, though he did record one album after that.
Beverly Davies remembers him thus:
Bruce was a
friend of mine. He had very pock marked
face, something like Brian Adams, and he carried his
guitar, a Sunburst Gibson Hummingbird, in a beat up old
case. But when he
played, my God he was
good. In 1965, he hitched to Toronto (or may
have been driven by
Billy Littler) and stayed at our house at 16 Admireal
Road, where he sat in the
kitchen playing his music. We were all blown away.
That weekend he played
the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orilla, Ontario, north of
Toronto. He was a
great hit that weekend in 1965 at Mariposa, as we read in
the press. Bruce
would come through Toronto again and then I didn't see
him for a year or so.
I ran into him at a march on the UN in New York City.
Bruce's songs come to mind when I walk a city
block, and his "Rompin' Rovin' Days" is
never far from mind.