Saturday, September 17, 2016

In Search Of "Eric Sings von Schmidt", "Who Knocked The Brains Out Of The Sky?" & "Come For To Sing" (Folk Compilation)

Recently got into Eric von Schmidt in a big way and very frustrated to find that some of his major works are essentially unavailable!!!

Am dying to hear "Eric Sings von Schmidt" & "Who Knocked The Brains Out Of The Sky?", as well as the folk compilation "Come For To Sing".

I love his albums with Rolf Cahn and Richard Fariña, "The Folk Blues of Eric von Schmidt", his song on "The Blues Project", and his book on the Cambridge folk scene "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down".

I just found his albums "2nd Right, 3rd Row" and "Living On The Trail" online, and am getting to know and like them now.

If anyone could send me a digital copy of "Eric Sings von Schmidt", "Who Knocked The Brains Out Of The Sky?", and the folk compilation "Come For To Sing" - I'd be forever appreciative.

Also, if anyone would like to discuss strategies for popularizing Eric's music and advocating for it to be more widely available, please feel free to drop me a line.


UPDATE: I've been listening to the Eric/Richard Fariña album for some time, but just found out yesterday that there are two other songs that were recorded but not released at the time: "Lemonade Lady" (which Richard later recorded with his wife Mimi) and "Old Paint".

Furthermore, there was a CD release of this album that contained a second disc with out-takes from the session. I guess not many people in 2016 are too excited about this, but for me, it's almost like a type of Holy Grail - Eric von Schmidt AND Richard Fariña AND Dylan!?!??! In London, in a record store, in 1963... a drunken evening immortalized by a crummy tape recorder with one mic...

                         Photo taken in London 1963 around the time of the recording: Richard, Dylan, Eric.

Ron Gould's recollection of the album from this site....:
"Well, as I remember it, the people that were playing were von Schmidt, Fariña, Ethan Signer and Bob Dylan... I sang choruses on some of the things -- I definitely sang on 'Glory Glory' -- but I can't make any claims to fame... There was the tape-recorder, sitting on the shop counter, and just one microphone, into which everyone in the room had to sing and play. We were all so primitive that everything was done pretty much in one take... What happened was that Richard and Eric von Schmidt were there first and they recorded a blues... then Signer turned up... and then, about two tunes later, that's when Dylan came in with the bottles of Guinness... but he didn't have an opener... Then Rick von Schmidt handed Dylan an already opened bottle of Guinness, and Dylan took it up to his mouth, took a swig, pulled a face and said, My God what is this? And then he tipped the rest of it on the floor... Doug [Dobell] didn't like his shop floor being messed up... But after that, it seemed to calm down and there was just a lot of playing and drinking. Basically that was it. It was just a one-off that we did and nobody thought it would ever come to anything..." 
(From an interview by Brian Wells in the Dylan fanzine, The Telegraph, No. 49, Summer 1994, pp. 8-14.)

A few months ago I got into Eric von Schmidt's music and quickly thought I knew most of the important stuff. Now I realize there is much, much more. I've been focused more on the 60s material, but his 70's stuff is interesting too. "Who Knocked The Brains Out Of The Sky?" is one of the weirdest songs I've ever heard (some lysergic evening?). I have no idea what "Cruel Family" (1977) or "Baby Let Me Lay It On You" (1995) sound like. Is "Baby" a greatest hits collection? Or new versions of songs he had previously recorded and released elsewhere?

Saw a few notes online lamenting the fact that Dave Van Ronk, the New York City equivalent of Cambridge/Boston Eric, received a new appreciation in the wake of the film "Inside Llewyn Davis", while Eric remains largely ignored. 

Well, the cool people who used to say "Dylan's ok... but Phil Ochs was the real deal" can now say "Dylan's ok... but Dave Van Ronk was the real deal".... whereas the rilly, rilly cool people know it's all about Eric von Schmidt....

I guess I do prefer my musical heroes to be unknown to the general public (making them cool and underground and hidden); often dead, usually tragic...

I would like more people to get into Eric, but it's ok if they don't. The people that need to find him, do.

I have wracked my head in recent times, wondering how people like Gene Clark and Eric von Schmidt can be ignored or forgotten, while some critic's darlings skate by for years on the slimmest of resumes...

Eric was immortalized on Dylan's first album (as "Ric von Schmidt" who taught him "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" while on a trip to the "green pastures of Harvard University") and then again on Dylan's fifth album "Bringing It All Back Home" (1965), where a copy of Eric's 1963 "Folk Blues" album is casually laying near Dylan and friend.

Eric was a crucial pillar of the Cambridge/Boston/Harvard folk scene and wrote a great book about it. He was also an illustrator who designed many album covers for himself and others.

I think it's fascinating how interconnected Eric was to other musicians - Dylan and The Band covered Eric's classic "Joshua Gone Barbados" on "The Complete Basement Tapes".... and Eric later worked with The Band's Rick Danko and Garth Hudson on his solo albums... He was very close with Richard Fariña, and also with both of Richard's wives/singing partners - Carolyn Hester and Mimi Fariña. There's a great picture in Eric's book of the Cambridge folk scene going en masse to see Paul Butterfield Blues Band (feat Michael Bloomfield).... and years later Paul played harmonica with Eric.

This music archiving/detective work is good clean fun! Always surprises, always something new....

Eric Discography By A Superfan

The ones I'm looking for:

"Come For To Sing"(Various Artists)

- Cotton Eye Joe - Jackie Washington
- The Car Song - Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
- Grizzly Bear - Eric von Schmidt
- Rock Island Line - Rolf Cahn
- The Virgin Mary - Carolyn Hester
- John Henry - Eric von Schmidt
- Billy Barlow - Jackie Washington
- Hush Little Baby - Carolyn Hester
- Froggie Went Courting - Rolf Cahn
- Night Herding Song - Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
- Go Tell Aunt Rhody - Carolyn Hester
- The Gray Goose - Eric von Schmidt
- How D'ye Do? - Rolf Kahn
- Taddle-O-Day - Jackie Washington
- Haul On The Bowline - Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
- Hambone - Jackie Washington
- The Boll Weevil - Rolf Cahn
- My Good Old Man - Carolyn Hester & Eric von Schmidt
- Candy Man - Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
- Old Howard - Eric von Schmidt

(There's also a book of the same name, illustrated by Eric.)

"Eric Sings von Schmidt" (1964)

- Kennedy Blues
- Light Rain
- Joshua Gone Barbados
- Edward Teller
- My Love Come Rolling Down

- Florida Woman Blues
- Kay Is The Month Of May
- Cold Gray Dawn
- Just To See You Stand That Way
- Acne
- Rattlesnake Preacher

"Who Knocked The Brains Out Of The Sky?" (1969)

- Who Knocked The Brains Out Of The Sky? (4:04)
- Beanum And Barley (4:55)
- Three Miles (0:46)
- Living On The Corner (3:46)
- Sudden Garden (4:39)

- Catch It (3:27)
- Bitter City (3:25)
- Lucky Mrs. Ticklefeather (4:45)
- Hundred Acre Wood (2:56)
- Weep For The Wood Man (4:38)

"Cruel Family" (1977)

- You Get Old, You Get Wise
- Ring Around The Moon
- Bunch Of Roses
- Debt I Owe
- It's The Doing
- Make It Last
- Champagne Don't Hurt Me, Baby
- Sudden Garden
- Sweet Margarita
- Briar Patch
- Lonzo & Howard
- Icarus

"Baby Let Me Lay It On You" (1995)

- Baby, Let Me Lay It On You
- Lucky Man
- Goin' Down To Melbourne
- De Kalb Blues
- Envy The Thief
- My Love Come Rollin' Down
- Joshua Gone Barbados
- Rule The Road
- Fat, Fat, The Water Rat
- Can The Serpent Be Housebroken?
- Wet Birds Fly At Night
- Just To See You Stand That Way
- Light Rain
- The Letter
- Foolish Pleasure
- The Captain

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