[Singer-Songwriter] – ‘His Heart Had Six Strings,’ Vol. 1 (1968-1977)

Update August, 2017: All of the ‘Their Hearts Had Six Strings’ mixes have been collected, along with two new volumes, and can be downloaded here.  Hope you’ll enjoy! Say the words “singer-songwriter” to some music geeks, and you may induce a Pavlovian cringe.  It’s a much-abused term, no doubt, often applied to every M.O.R. woman to sit at a piano and wail, every goateed doofus to wallow over his mother-of-pearl-inlaid Taylor or Ovation.  But taken (as a start) as a natural progression out of 1960s folk revivalism into music with more potential for both sonic breadth and popular appeal, it is one of the bedrocks of the greatest decade in popular music, the equal of funk or post-punk or Krautrock.  It’s sometimes spare and unadorned, sometimes verges on baroque pop, and often brings in jazz and chamber music touches to become something that just doesn’t fit under a more accurately descriptive ready-made label.  This mix is intended as evidence that if handled with care, a few unabashedly poetic lyrics, a little soul-searching confession, some sing-along melodicism, and an acoustic guitar can add up to a very good thing.  ‘His Heart Had Six Strings, Vol. 1‘ features (as the title suggests) male songwriters; it will be followed up soon with a feminine counterpart–and probably a sequel, since I left so many favorites of this volume.

Starting things off are Duncan Browne and the Zombies Colin Blunstone; both excel at more spare and introspective sounds (please don’t miss Blunstone’s heartbreaking chamber masterpiece, ‘One Year‘), but are featured here in a more uptempo approach.  I haven’t avoided the well-known and the beloved favorites–Cohen, Simon, Dylan, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, and (stretching the term a bit) Eno and Kevin Ayers are all here.  But fewer may know Canadian wit Lewis Furey, or Uruguayan hero Eduardo Mateo (of the beautiful El Kinto).  I hope you all know Arthur Russell, but if you missed the most recent facet of his work as revealed in Audika’s ‘Love Is Overtaking Me,’ you’re in for an unexpectedly treat (if anything can really be unexpected from Russell).  Frenchman Areski Belkacem is best known for his work with Brigitte Fontaine, but his first solo album may be even more adventurously mysterious; his countryman Henri Texier diverted from his Mingus-influenced jazz bass work for a trio of truly unique and accessibly experimental albums of wordless vocals and bass-driven rhythms that call to mind Morocco or Turkey as much as France.  Procol Harum is far from a one-hit wonder, and the aching voice-and-organ “Too Much Between Us” is a longtime favorite of mine.  Leo Kottke‘s resonant voice is underrated, as is his often funky second album, ‘Mudlark‘.  Curt Boettcher (of The Millennium/Sagittarius) takes a slightly more stripped-down approach to his sunshine pop, Jorge Ben brings a little Brasilian sun of his own, and Bill Fay makes sure the End Times will sound good.    Download with artwork and full tracklist after the “more…” link.

Various – ‘His Heart Had Six Strings’
Volume 1 (1968-1977)

Part 1
01  [00:00]  Duncan Browne – “Journey” (Duncan Browne, 1973)
02  [03:15]  Colin Blunstone – “Andorra” (Ennismore, 1972)
03  [06:28]  Leonard Cohen – “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” (New Skin for the Old Ceremony, 1974)
04  [09:27]  Paul Simon – “Peace Like a River” (Paul Simon, 1972)
05  [12:40]  Areski – “Le Dragon” (Un Beau Matin, 1972)
06  [15:07]  Arthur Russell – “Close My Eyes”  (Love Is Overtaking Me, 1974)
07  [17:39]  Lewis Furey – “Love Comes” (Lewis Furey, 1975)
08  [21:05]  Kevin Ayers – “Two Goes Into Four” (The Confessions of Doctor Dream, 1974)
09  [22:35]  Bob Dylan – “If Not For You” (New Morning, 1970)
10  [25:02]  Eduardo Mateo – “Quien te Viera” (Mateo Solo Bien Se Lame, 1972)
11  [27:00]  Brian Eno – “By This River” (Before & After Science, 1977)

Part 2
01  [00:00]  Big Star – “Holocaust” (Third, 1976)
02  [03:46]  Henri Texier – “Amir” (Amir, 1976)
03  [07:05]  Van Morrison – “Slim Slow Slider” (Astral Weeks, 1968)
04  [10:21]  Procol Harum – “Too Much Between Us” (A Salty Dog, 1969)
05  [13:56]  Leo Kottke – “Eight Miles High”  (Mudlark, 1971)
06  [17:38]  Jorge Ben – “Zumbi” (A Tabua de Esmeralda, 1974)
07  [21:04]  Curt Boettcher – “I’ve Been Wrong” (There’s An Innocent Face, 1973)
08  [24:37]  Bill Fay – “Come A Day” (Time of the Last Persecution, 1971)
09  [27:04]  Tom Waits – “Closing Time” (Closing Time, 1973)

[Total Time: 61:16]

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