"...the most reliable of folk-rooted singer-songwriters...Paxton's voice is still supple...he's singing with total conviction. ****" -- Montreal Gazette
"A very nice album that's relaxing and genial yet thoughtful, and absolutely archetypal Paxton: reason enough to celebrate, I'd say." -- NetRhythms, January 2008
"Paxton's songwriting here is deep and affecting, touching the heart ever deeper with repeated listening. (4 out of 5 stars)" -- All Music Guide
About the Artist
Despite more than four decades of recording and performing, the only sign that Tom Paxton may be slowing down a bit is that his past is catching up to him. In 2005, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting at BBC Radio 2's Folk Awards in London. The following year, he was the recipient of a 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance, honoring "those who have devoted their life's work and talent to the advancement of folk music and dance." And in January 2007, the British Parliament paid official tribute to his life and work, in which Lord Neil Kinnock described Paxton, a perennial UK favorite, as "one of the great folksingers. His is the real voice of America; he speaks for decent Americans."
In the 45 years since Tom started performing regularly in New York's Greenwich Village, he's earned his place as one of the great "singing journalists" in the tradition of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs and the early Bob Dylan; as a pioneer in the early-'60s transition from performing traditional folk songs to original, personal compositions; and as one of our finest contemporary songwriters. Although his own records have never sold in the quantities they merited, Paxton originals such as "The Last Thing on My Mind," "The Marvelous Toy" and "Ramblin' Boy" reached a wider public through cover versions by more "commercial" folk acts - the Chad Mitchell Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, and the Kingston Trio. The Fireballs had a Top 10 hit with Tom's goodtimey "Bottle of Wine" in 1968. As early as 1969, Paxton's status as an underappreciated craftsman was noted in Lillian Roxon's seminal Rock Encyclopedia: "The trouble with Tom Paxton is that he's been too good too long and people take him for granted . . ."
But sometimes good things do come to those who wait. In addition to the recent honors mentioned above, Paxton has enjoyed much long-overdue appreciation in the 21st Century. In 2002, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Composers, Artists and Publishers (ASCAP), and three "Wammies" (Washington, DC, Area Music Awards) as "Best Male Vocalist" in both the "traditional folk" and "children's music" categories and for "Best Traditional Folk Recording of the Year" for Under American Skies, his duo CD with frequent collaborator Anne Hills on Appleseed. His 2001 CD Your Shoes, My Shoes was a Grammy finalist in the "Children Music" category, and 2002's Looking for the Moon was a Grammy finalist as "Best Contemporary Folk Album ."
Born in Chicago on Halloween in 1937 but transplanted with his family to tiny Bristow, Oklahoma, at age 10, Paxton caught the music bug for R&B, classical and folk music in junior high school. Although he entered the University of Oklahoma as a drama major, his attraction to folk music blossomed and he acquired an acoustic guitar as a sophomore. "By the time I got out of college . . . I loved this music so much that I had to try it. . . ."
As a fresh-faced Army reservist stationed at New Jersey's Fort Dix, Paxton was within commuting distance of Greenwich Village, sleeping on friends' floors and performing in small "basket houses" for change. After his six-month stint in the reserves ended, Paxton became a Village fixture by mid-'62, one of the first of the new crop of folksingers to write original material, helping to open the floodgates of the singer-songwriter movement, alongside Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Fred Neil, Dave Van Ronk and others.
In 1964, Paxton was signed to Elektra Records, the flagship label for creative folk music, and recorded Ramblin' Boy, his first of an estimated 40 or more albums. The following year, Paxton made his first of many annual tours of Great Britain. At the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival in the UK, Paxton's performance stole the show from the most popular rock bands of the day and solidified his English fan base. He lived in London during the early '70s, collaborated with various British folk stars, including Ralph McTell and Danny Thompson, and recorded his first of many albums of children's songs in 1974.
After returning to the States, Paxton became a beloved constant on the folk circuit, acclaimed for the depth and wit of his songs and the humor he brought - and still brings - to his dozens of yearly performances. Tom is a delightful storyteller with or without a guitar in his hands, and since 1987 has written the text for more than a dozen children's books. Whether Tom sings of love, as on Comedians & Angels, of topical events (in his ongoing series of "short shelf-life songs" frequently posted for free download on his website), of toys and measles and holidays (on his children's CDs), or of the everyday lives and world that surrounds him, what's left of the "real" America couldn't have a better spokesman..