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Saturday, April 29, 2023

Saturday Music Post - The Last Thing on My Mind

In the early 1960s, Tom Paxton was one of the young folk musicians hanging out in Greenwich Village; a group that included Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Janis Ian, and others. According to Dave Van Ronk, who was in a position to know, Paxton was the first of the group to perform mostly his own material, at a time when even Dylan was still singing traditional folk songs. They were sometimes called topical or "protest singers" for their songs about the civil rights and peace movements. Unlike Dylan, Paxton actually went south to register voters in the Mississippi Summer. (Dylan performed at the March on Washington, but he was not otherwise a movement activist). It's hard to recall the time when Tom Paxton was mentioned along with Bob Dylan. Nobody would ever suggest Paxton for a Nobel Prize, but he did write some beautiful songs, including "Bottle of Wine," "Ramblin' Boy," and "The Marvelous Toy," which were recorded by Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, the Chad Mitchell Trio (for which Paxton unsuccessfully auditioned), Harry Belafonte, Willie Nelson, Glen Campbell, and Peter, Paul, and Mary, among many others.

 Paxton wrote and recorded "The Last Thing on My Mind" in 1964. I saw Paxton perform live several times, but my tastes were so parochial back then, I am embarrassed to admit, that I was unaware of the uptempo cover by Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, which was their first big hit in 1967.

The clips are on The Faculty Lounge here.

Posted by Steve Lubet on April 29, 2023 at 06:47 AM | Permalink

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