- Artist: Howard Farris
- Format: CD
- Release Date:1/8/2008
The 60's and 70's brought a rush of new music and styles. Rock and Roll exploded on the scene with the Beatles and the "British Invasion." Folk music arrived with a generation of exploration, questioning of the establishment and protest. Guitars provided the music for the songs of the day. My daughter Debra was born in the midst of it all. At age six she got her first guitar and quickly began to learn the basics. Music has always been a part of my family life. Brothers and sisters provided "home grown" entertainment for life on the farm. This tradition continued in my own family with many evenings spent playing and singing folk, country and novelty songs. The songs on this CD are a small sample of the dozens from the same genre popular during those turbulent social times. Recording this CD and it's' companion "Catching the Dream" has been an amazing experience filled with adventure, reflection, and love. Working together on music with Debra after so many years further strengthened an already strong Father-Daughter relationship for us. We are thankful to have had this opportunity, and to all those who helped make it possible: Ed Layola at 7 South studios; Mo at Monidesign for her participation and graphic design; Bethany at BeBe Photography for her extraordinary shots; and to Bill Fullmer and John Mooy for their musical contributions. -Howard Farris Water is Wide is an old English/Scottish/Irish folk song from the 1600's. This song surfaced again in the 1960s as a ballad characterizing the mood of the times for those who seemed to search for a return to the simplicity of life and love. It was recorded by a number of artists. I love melodic ballads and the introduction and simple cord progression really caught my ear. We would sing this song around the fire in the evening with everyone harmonizing and enjoying the moment. Don't Think Twice - Bob Dylan This was one of Dylan's early signature songs, along with Blowing in The Wind. His folk lyrics and melodies contributed much to express the feelings of those who struggled for the individual rights and opposition to the establishment. The saying' Never trust a coat and tie and anyone over 30' sums the feelings of that time. Dylan was an enigma. On the one hand his songs really expressed the mood of the time and the college crowd was off and running with his music. I liked the poetry and would sing this song often with friends who would visit to play and sing the evening away. Catch the Wind - Donovan Leitch The simplicity of this song and catch it's melody was brought to the music scene by Donovan's performance in the U.S. His soft voice, delivery and accompany guitar made this a title song and a hit for himself and others. It soon was heard in coffee houses, street corners and bars sung my individual and groups of musicians from flower children to hippies. The simplicity of this song with it's lovely melody really grabbed my musical friends and me. It expressed the futility viewed by many in the 60's as a truism. I found the lyrics expressed the desperation many of my students talked about, particularly as it related to the Vietnam War. Last Thing on my Mind - Thomas Paxton This song began as a country and if not written by, was one of the hits that Dolly Parton recorded and appeared on one of her early albums. It was picked up by folk and country singers, and amateurs alike. We loved the moving rhythm and story line. My country roots keep pulling me back to songs that tell stories. This one was not only fun for us to sing but one on which you could really work the guitar accompaniment. It was a lively change from the ballads we were singing at the time. Early Morning Rain - Gordon Lightfoot Gordon crossed the border with this music catching the heart of folk, as well as pop culture. His unique voice, style and deliver set him apart from the usual folk singer and his lyrics were earthy, and described personal struggles with one's self and relationships. I really loved Gordon Lightfoot's music. He told it like it was and sang it with feeling. Finger picking was a big part of the folk guitar and this song allowed us to do it in style. In the early days, Bill Fullmer's would play his 12-string on this and it rang through out the sessions. The Milk Song ("Feel Feel" song) Public Domain We were living in Wisconsin when this song appeared as a radio commercial in the "Dairy State". It was fun for Debra and I to sing together. One of the lines with the word "feel" repeated made Debra call it the "Feel Feel song". It was one of those funny family traditions that lived on and on. Pastures of Plenty - Woody Guthrie Song author Woody Guthrie was truly an extraordinary person. He traveled the US in the depression years writing and singing songs for the poor migrant workers, and tried to help their situation through attempts to boost their spirit as well as organize them to bargain for better pay and conditions. His songs like 'This land is your Land' are lasting legacies to him and his impact on folk music. When I first heard 'Pastures of Plenty', it was from my friend Ted Tetzloff in WI. I liked the minor key with the hammer-ons and the message, and so Bill Fullmer and I learned it and began singing it regularly in our living room jams at the Parkview Hills house in Kalamazoo. In our original version from the 60's, Bill would sing melody and I would sing harmony, and then we'd switch off. Voice Mail - George Nowak (the Barefoot Man) I first heard this song while visiting the Cayman Islands in the mid 1990s. Nowak, known as the "Barefoot Man" is a well know singer/song writer in the Caribbean, especially on Grand Cayman. His songs are novel and his style much like that of Jimmy Buffett. The" Barefoot Man" was playing at a beach party at Rum Point on the north east side of the island where I had attended. Dancing in the sand, along with rum punch made the song one that I just had to learn. It was not only fun and funny, but also so true. Four Strong Winds - Ian Tyson Ian a folk singer and writer from Alberta Canada was half of the very popular duo, Ian and Sylvia. They were welcomed in to the US folk music scene with the songs and of country life, love and loss. Their style was soft and harmonious, a great fit for the moods of the times. Ian and Sylvia really caught my ear. They seemed so "down home" and sang songs about the land which all of us in the 60s seem to be searching for. After Neil Young recorded it, we just had to have it a part of our song list. Debra would often join Bill, Ted (A Canadian buddy) and myself in three or four part harmony. Turn Around - Reynolds, Belafonte and Green This song was one of the early hits for Harry Belafonte as he brought his island songs to America in the late 50s and early 60s. His island accent and emphasis on Jamaican and Caribbean life were unique, along with his style and voice. Great addition to music of the day I loved this one from the very beginning. Debra was my first child and immediately stole my heart. I would sing this song to her as she grew from babe to a young woman. It still has a very special place in my heart. Leaving on a Jet Plane - John Denver One of John Denver's many ballads that made him a favorite across many audiences. It was one of the early folk songs to hit the pop music charts. It was also recorded and made further popular by Peter, Paul and Mary, the trio that inspired folks from all walks of life. It was often heard at hootenannies, beach parties and bonfires. We had Peter, Paul and Mary's vinyl record from 1962. When Deb was 6 years old, she would listen to it every Sat. morning after cartoons, and learned Leaving on a jet plane on my big guitar after I taught her 3 chords, D, A and G. For Christmas that year she got her first Harmony guitar. We would practice it together in the living room at the Parkview house in Kalamazoo, MI.
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