Jack Hardy Liner Notes for Noir
By way of what used to be called liner notes:
Too many photo booths in train station bars
Posing as heroes in some forgotten war
This is the first day of the rest of your life
So smile and take a picture
- From "Winter Sunlight"
Everywhere I have ever traveled, for over forty years, I have always gone
into a train station and taken a picture of myself in the photo booth. This
collection of songs is like that. They are snapshots of places I have
traveled, of people who were with me, of moments in time. Or, they are
snapshots of myself when people I have known have traveled away from me.
About the songs:
- Memphis: A few years back, I was hanging out with Rose Polenzani in
Memphis and we went into a café that had beautiful ante-bellum architecture.
There were twenty naked women painted on the ceiling. I counted them. I
proceeded to have a religious experience. How many biblical references can
- Uley Mill Song: On a tour in England I was playing and hanging out
at Sandra Morgan's 17th-century pub, The Old Crown, in Uley in the
Cotswolds area. Someone told me about the history of the village, how there
used to be water-powered mills that made the broadcloth for the uniforms
during the Napoleonic wars. But, as soon as steam power was discovered, they
closed these mills and moved everything to Yorkshire to be closer to the
coal. They threw all the workers out on the road. This is a little love song
set in that place, at that time.
- Breakout: I was trying to help my son one day with his chemistry
homework and had a flash-back to being in school, in class, in springtime,
with random words and concepts floating in and out of your daydream, when
all you want to do is breakout of there. My son somehow passed without my
(inability to) help.
- The Lady Turned Away: The older we get the more we expect the
people we meet to have the sum-total of all the good qualities of everyone
we've ever gone out with (and none of the bad). As opposed to when we are
young when we just jump in and take the good with the bad. This song is a
plea to ignore the history and live in the moment.
- The Ladies of Cork: I was telling my friend Padraig in Cork about
having broken up with my girlfriend. He sent me a very kind email saying
that when I had been in cork, several ladies had "taken a shine" to me. I
think he was just trying to cheer me up but I had fun writing the song
- The Dust of Africa: I went to South Africa for the wedding of my
friend Tim Robinson. Being a folksinger of insubstantial means, I bought my
plane ticket on Price line. They routed me into Johannesburg (the wedding
was near Cape town, 700 miles away). I rented a small car and, against all
better judgment, drove through the desert down, and through the "Garden
Route" and the mountains on the way back. The one thing that becomes very
clear, very quickly, is that although apartheid may have ended on paper,
there is not much evidence of that fact in reality.
- Winter Sunlight: Some novice songwriter opened a show for me a few
years back and one of his first songs was about "looking out his window." I
had to laugh because one of my very first songs was about "looking out my
window." Having no new song at the last minute before our weekly
songwriters' meeting, I decided to look out my Houston Street window and
write an updated version of the song. I was playing the song at a campfire
down at the Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival and introduced it as a
country-western song. Chuck Pyle said, "That's not a country song, that's
folk-noir!" The term sort of stuck.
- In Memory of Federico Garcia Lorca: Suzanne Vega was telling me
about visiting and performing at Lorca's house in Spain and how his niece
was the caretaker. And about her sad eyes. Suzanne should have written this
song but she didn't.
- Empires: After re-reading The Declaration of Independence I was
struck by the fact that the longwinded rant against King George III was very
relevant today, but about our own regime. Empires of any kind are prone to
- London Town: I have often felt that I could have starred in any
number of traditional folk songs and this one is no exception (except for
the fact that I wrote it).
- Dig a Hole to China: I was asked to sing my song "Ground Zero" and
be interviewed by German Public Television on the first anniversary of 9/11.
This was to be for their morning show at 8am so it had to be filmed live at
2am New York time. They didn't tell me until the last moment that is was to
be filmed from the roof of a hotel overlooking "ground zero" which by that
time was nothing but a giant hole in the ground. It was my first time back
to the scene of the crime of the century since that fateful day. Needless to
say, it was very traumatic. I wrote this song driving to Texas later that
- Saint Clare: I have a religious icon of Saint Clare sitting on my
desk that was given to me by Patrick Brayer. It is supposed to be holding a
monstrance but I have it holding a candle. I wrote this song for a friend
who went out on tour. I sort of forgot about it but Suzanne Vega remembered
it from our songwriters' meeting and recorded a beautiful version of it for
her album Songs in Red and Gray. Then her version of it was used for the
television show Felicity. It turns out that Saint Clare (among other things)
is the patron saint of television. The Goddess works in wondrous ways!
About the musicians and other contributing professionals:
- Tom Duval (guitar) started touring with me when he was still
finishing up at Columbia University. He started out playing bass with me and
then switched over to guitar. He played with me on the infamous Mitch Ryder
tour. He is featured on The Hunter album as well as Civil Wars, Omens and
- Mike Laureanno (bass) has toured with me in Europe and America. He
is on the Omens album as well as Bandolier.
- Kate MacLeod (fiddle) has toured with me in Europe and America. She
played on the Omens album as well as Bandolier.
- Dave Anthony (drums, percussion) first played with me on The
Passing, then on Omens. He did one tour with me in Europe.
- Ken Beasley (flamenco guitar) is a member of our songwriters
meeting in NYC. He has toured with me as a bass player but is better known
as a flamenco player.
- Danny Littwin (engineer) also recorded my Two of Swords album,
which we recorded at my apartment on Houston St. in Greenwich Village. We
were going to do this one there as well but the construction on the streets
outside prohibited that. We moved the session to my family's house up in
Durham Ct. where we recorded the whole thing in one day (Sept. 10, 2007)
live, with no overdubs. The day also featured some great meals prepared by
Mikey and some critical listening by un-indicted-co-conspirator Roy
- Mark Dann (mastering) recorded and played on my Cauldron album, did
numerous tours with me, and was the main recording engineer for Fast Folk.
He also re-mastered several of the albums for my boxed sets. As you can see,
we keep it all in the family.
- Barry Fingerhut (photography) is a fine-art
photographer from New York who has photographed modern dancers in the past.
In addition to the photos of the musicians in the booklet, he also captured
the assemblage in the photo on the back on the CD.
Copyright © 2007 Jack Hardy Music
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