Fall is here and the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love is officially over, and with it the little jump in interest about the hippie era, which was in some ways was already coming to an end in 1967. Shortly after that time my hippie sister and her hippie boyfriend stopped renting their Victorian apartment in the Haight and took off on a trip in their VW van looking to join the fabled back-to-the-land movement.
While they were exploring the North Coast, they left a box of record albums with me. I was living in the ‘burbs with my folks, and absorbing new music all over, with my FM radio tuned to the underground station, and taking occasional trips to the Fillmore, the Avalon and Golden Gate park for historic concerts.
That box of albums contained some real treasures. I discovered the Jim Kweskin Band and others from the East Coast music scene, in particular the Boston folkies, among them Tom Rush, a singer/songwriter who had a warm and friendly voice and an attitude that matched.
On his first (eponymous) record he mixed songs from the public domain with some by bluesman and a couple by Woody Guthrie. His next albums showed him to be a master at discovering new songwriting talent, first by including the work of James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Jesse Winchester, then Joni Mitchell, whose “The Circle Game” was the title track on his third record.
Introducing the song back in 1968, before she had released her own version on Ladies of the Canyon, Joni noted, “This is a song that’s been recorded by a couple of friends of mine, so maybe you know it a little better than the other ones.” Those friends were Tom Rush and Judy Collins, who had an ever bigger hit with it.
The song was part of a song cycle on Tom’s record, a tale of a failing love affair that ends with a fine song he wrote himself, “No Regrets.” I imagined it was a song that spoke to my breakup with a teenage crush, but truth is I was really too young for those feelings.
I promise you’ll hear that one when Tom comes to Ferndale for a show Wednesday (Oct. 4) at the Old Steeple, (aka Ferndale Music Company), an excellent venue where I’m becoming a regular. I know we’ll hear some new stuff since Tom has a new record in the works via a Kickstarter-type funding site PledgeMusic.com. Pretty sure there are a few tickets left. Check it out. Maybe I’ll see you there.