For The Sake Of The Song: When The World Is Rough, You Are Gentle On My Mind

I may be cursed for what I am about to say… but I was never a huge Joan Baez fan.  She would sometimes sing in what I perceived as an overly affected style and that is how I always thought of her… It’s not that I did not appreciate her or understand her relevance, I just chose other singers I liked more…

But then last week I downloaded her 1968 set at the Newport Folk Festival from Wolfgang’s Vault and it all changed… Her voice was warm and beautiful… her storytelling funny and the whole set was a magnificent surprise for me…

Ands she covered this song, made famous by Glen Campbell in the same year.  I love his version, of course… but there is something about the simplicity and loveliness of hers that made me want to focus on this one… Feel free to enjoy both.

Joan’s Version

Glen & John Duet Version – The sound is not great, a little on the low side… but this is a rare duet between Glen Campbell and John Hartford, who wrote the song!

Oh, man this song is good… And what a song for a cool, breezy Saturday.  Go Kings!

“It’s knowing that your door is always open
And your path is free to walk
That makes me tend to leave my sleeping bag
Rolled up and stashed behind your couch
And it’s knowing I’m not shackled
By forgotten words and bonds
And the ink stains that have dried upon some line
That keeps you in the backroads
By the rivers of my mem’ry
That keeps you ever gentle on my mind

It’s not clinging to the rocks and ivy
Planted on their columns now that binds me
Or something that somebody said
Because they thought we fit together walking
It’s just knowing that the world will not be cursing
Or forgiving when I walk along some railroad track and find
That you are moving on the backroads
By the rivers of my mem’ry
And for hours you’re just gentle on my mind

Though the wheat fields and the clothes lines
And the junkyards and the highways come between us
And some other woman crying to her mother
‘Cause she turned and I was gone
I still might run in silence tears of joy might stain my face
And the summer sun might burn me ’til I’m blind
But not to where I cannot see you walkin’ on the backroads
By the rivers flowing gentle on my mind

I dip my cup of soup back from the gurglin’
Cracklin’ caldron in some train yard
My beard a-rufflin’cold cowl
A dirty hat pulled low across my face
Through cupped hands ’round a tin can
I pretend I hold you to my breast and find
That you’re waving from the backroads
By the rivers of my mem’ry
Ever smilin’ ever gentle on my mind”

Gentle on My Mind” is the title of a song written by John Hartford, which won two 1968 Grammy Awards. Hartford himself won the award for Best Folk Performance. The other award, Best Country & Western Solo Vocal Performance, Male, went to American country music singer Glen Campbell for his version of Hartford’s song. It was released in June 1967 as the only single from the album of the same name. It was re-released in July 1968 to more success. Glen Campbell’s version has received over 5 million plays on the radio. Campbell used “Gentle on My Mind” as the theme to his television variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour between 1969 and 1972. However, Dean Martin’s version, recorded some years later, was more successful in terms of chart-position.”

“I went to see the movie Doctor Zhivago the night I wrote it. Everyone’s made a whole lot out of that. I know it gave me a feeling that caused me to start writing, but as far as saying it came from that, I don’t know. It just came from experience. While I was writing it, if I had any idea that was going to be a hit, it probably would have come out differently and it wouldn’t have been a hit. That just came real fast, a blaze, a blur.”

John Hartford discussing “Gentle on My Mind”
So when things are rough and tumble, think about something… or even better someone… and let them play gently on your mind…

1 Comment

Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me, One Thumb - My Movie Reviews

One response to “For The Sake Of The Song: When The World Is Rough, You Are Gentle On My Mind

  1. Pingback: 51 Years Ago: Glen Campbell Records ‘Gentle on My Mind’ | 99.7 The Bear

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