Dusted off my turntable and unboxed my record collection. I plan to review vinyl re-masters and reissues in the coming months and let you know how they stack up against the original pressings.
In the past few days, I’ve been listening to my Tim Hardin records and kind of wallowing in the ache of his voice. It’s a beautifully sad thing, that voice. Presently spending time with his unheralded 1969 masterpiece, the darkly poetic Suite For Susan Moore And Damon -We Are-One, One, All In One. Combining spoken word with song, the album is an extended ode to loneliness with an autumnal vibe pierced by visions of impending apocalypse. It’s one of those dark night of the soul things that are often preludes to an awakening or death. In Hardin’s case, the album may just be the purgatorial utterances of a man in a state of perpetual twilight. Like his brother in junk, Tim Buckley, Hardin seems to be aware of death hovering over his left shoulder. The result is a kind of immediacy to every cracked wail and ragged cri du couer—a trembling supplication before annihilation. It can be both terrifying and liberating. Hardin leans a lot on love to see him through the maelstrom.
My favorite line from Suite For Susan Moore... is also a brief glimpse into Hardin’s sense of humor: “We hide the truth inside our pants. It makes a secret of romance.”
In this video, Hardin performs at Woodstock and there’s no wonder it never appeared in the feel-good documentary of the festival. His various recordings and performances of “If I were a Carpenter” mostly all have a world-weariness to them. But this Woodstock version is downright haunted and he’s so stoned and scared (he dreaded public performance) that the effect is chilling and heart wrenching… and oh so naked. Standing in front a few hundred thousand people and it’s as if he’s alone in a room… except for the stage fright and the distraction of some feedback.
There’s a lot of good quality Tim Hardin records out there at reasonable prices. I suggest you get a few, if you ain’t got ‘em already.