Thank You Tom Paxton
For Tim Grimm, it all started with Tom Paxton. From the liner notes for this 12-track tribute record: "I learned about the Vietnam War, I learned about mature love, I learned about social protest, I learned about melody and song structure — all while growing up listening to Tom's songs." And one could still learn a lot from Paxton, whose stuff has aged pretty darn well, even when concerned with passé subjects (the rambling hobo, the funeral straight out of The American Way of Death, the pitcher who coulda made it big).
Grimm tackles songs from across the folk singer's career, doing justice to the early hits (notably, "Last Thing on My Mind") and more than likely introducing recent ones to casual listeners (2008's "How Beautiful Upon the Mountain," which represents political protesters as chosen people upon the hill).
At worst, the album doesn't do much more than convincingly present Paxton's work as it stands, as a sort of primer for the uninitiated or greatest hits collection for converts. We still care about the lyrics to "Bishop Cody's Last Request" and "Home To Me," but tepid folk-rock arrangements don't add much to either song much.
But a few tracks give Paxton's songs new life: a haunting elegy for our degraded environment, "Whose Garden Was This?"; the rather funny "Forest Lawn"; and the beautifully-phrased "I Give You the Morning," one of Paxton's sensitive, generous love songs, given an intimate reading by Grimm and guitarist Jason Wilber.