Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Log Driver's Waltz

This is cool. The National Film Board of Canada has just made hundreds of their films available for free on the web. Go to

As an example, here is a cartoon based on the classic song written by Wade Hemsworth.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Madrona amidst the firs
Originally uploaded by wplynn
I recently spent a week in Port Townsend on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. It is a beautiful place but I find that one of the things I look forward to most are the Madrona trees. They shed their bark year round and the wood underneath is a shockingly bright red. Always grow near salt water and seem to prefer growing on stone.

In Canada and Britain the tree is called Arbutus. Paddy Graber has a wonderful song he learned in Ireland as a boy about a princess named Arbutus who is forced to remove her brown dress "but before its hem could touch the ground, she had turned into a tree." Gordon Bok does a gorgeous version of the song on his album Return To The Land.

Summer Haiku

Fruit in my garden
Growing strangely incomplete.
Where are the stickers?

photo by mustangaly911

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I'm changing my name to Fannie Mae

One of the weird things about being Tom Paxton is that after over 40 years of writing topical songs he doesn't need to write new songs, just dust off old ones and bring them up to date. A couple of years ago he changed "Lyndon Johnson Told The Nation" to "George W. Told The Nation." Now here's a new transformation.

After the "United Breaks Guitars" video went viral I was reminded of Ton's song on the same subject, "Thank You, Republic Airlines." I went looking for him on Youtube and found his remake of his own "I'm Changing My Name To Chrysler." Remarkably, the new lyrics are even more clever than the old.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sing For The Song, Boy

I thought of Bob Gibson yesterday for the first time in years. I had never heard of him until one day around 1980 when we went into Greenwich Village to see Tom Paxton. Out came the opening act: a plump, fifty-ish guy in a jacket and tie. He solemnly placed the jacket on a chair, picked up a guitar, and sang: "Yes, Mr. Rogers, I'm living in sin with your daughter..." and he owned the room.

Everybody in the folk movement borrowed from Gibson. With (Bob) Hamilton Camp he made some of the coolest albums in folk. He discovered Joan Baez (which he said was like trying to take credit for discovering the Grand Canyon...SOMEONE was going to notice it); he tried to talk Phil Ochs out of writing political stuff and Ochs took the tune he played as he talked and wrote "One More Parade." He was probably the best interpreter of Shel Silverstein songs (LIke Yes, Mr Rogers, and the Gibson-inspired "LIving Legend").

Can't find either of those on Youtube, so here he is with Gibson and Camp on what looks like a cable access show, doing a Silverstien classic. Great harmonies.