My pop career had just nosedived into a steaming pile of heartache and bitterness and over 100 of my songs had been stolen from me via a crooked contract. My shyster managers had swindled me out of 60 cents on every dollar I'd make, so I did the unthinkable. I broke my contract. I waited for the hammer to come down on me, but it never did, except for the fact that my material wouldn't belong to me for a full seven years. I needed something new, so I decided to change directions and go into folk and Celtic folk music, fueled by the budding California Celtic scene that had just begun on the west coast. My managers couldn't touch any new songs I might pen. Take it all, I thought. Sod you. I'll write new stuff. I knew very few names in these genres, so I went to Hollywood ready to reach blindly into the grab bag. I came out with several Lps, which I chose using three bits of criteria:
- Cover Design
- My instincts
Ruth Barrett and Cyntia Smith, the liner notes told me, played dulcimer, an instrument that I'd loved since I'd heard Joni Mitchell's Blue album. Here are Barrett and Smith in a funny little promo video; I couldn't find another video of them. I want to add that later that year I saw them in concert at some little pub in L.A. or there abouts, and they were awesome.
I have these three groups to thank for leading me to other great artists like the aforementioned Pentangle, Silly Wizard, The Incredible String Band, Bert Jansch, Golden Bough, and so many others. And now that I'm back to being a musician--after a 20-year hiatus--these musicians are speaking to me more than ever before.
So we've reached the end of this entry. How about a little Pentangle for good measure? (That's John Renbourn playing sitar on the left and the late Bert Jansch on banjo, on the right.) Have a great week!