Gorka about Jack Hardy in the Fast Folk Magazine- Jack Hardy Tribute
Issue (page 23/24):
Philips called Jack Hardy ďa great mystic poet.Ē People knew Jack
in many different ways. Let me tell you about the Jack I knew. To
me he was a hero who became a friend. I met him in June of 1979
at Godfrey Daniels Coffeehouse in Bethlehem, PA.
friend Russ Rentler and I were the opening act for Jack, as the
Razzy Dazzy Brothers. I got to talk to Jack that night about writing
songs. At the time he was on a schedule finishing a song a week.
Most of the songs he played that night he had written in the previous
18 months. I was astounded that someone could come up with that
many quality original songs in that short a time. I knew that novelists
would sit down and write everyday but I thought songwriters waited
for inspiration to strike. Jack said that night ďthatís a cop out.Ē
He said if you put yourself on a schedule and work at it you will
get better as a writer. You will write more and you will get better
faster. Even if you throw out 3/4 of the songs you write, by exercising
the writing muscles your writing will grow stronger. That night
I decided to try writing on a schedule. The first year I tried to
write one song a month and ended up with more songs than months,
so I tried for two songs a month and would stay with that goal for
many years. After the show we went next door to the Lehigh Tavern
where I tried Guinness Stout for the first time, establishing a
tradition of sharing songs and ďadult beveragesĒ that would last
30 years. Jackís records Mirror of My Madness and The Nameless One
were on my turntable the whole summer of 1979.
few years later I opened for Jack at GodfreyĀfs and he said that
sometime when I'm in NYC I should do something for The Fast Folk
Magazine. I was familiar with The Coop from its very
first issue with the Table of Contents taped
on the side of a blank record cover. It was a thrilling idea that
songwriters without record deals could be on a record and get a
chance to be heard in far--Ā]flung places. I came into the city
later that year but wasnĀft able to connect with Mark Dann so I
went to The Cornelia Street Song Exchange and played a song I had
just written. Jack was there and afterwards said that he loved the
song ("I Saw a Stranger With Your Hair") and that there
were a number of new songwriters that he wanted to help bring along
and that I was one of them. I canĀft tell you how much those words
meant to me. No one encouraged me more when I needed encouragement
late 1984 he asked me to be a part of the core group of singers
that would back people up at The Fast Folk shows in Boston and at
The Bottom Line in New York. The other singers were Richard Meyer,
Shawn Colvin and Lucy Kaplansky. I was in the audience for the Bottom
earlier that year and was knocked out by the talent on that stage.
I started attending Jackís Houston Street gatherings whenever I
could, driving from Easton, PA to the MetroPark Station in Edison,
NJ and taking the train into the city. I loved going to those little
along the line I became a regular outpatient from the NY Fast Folk
scene. It was a very inspiring bunch of people.
was glad to be a part of it. By the time we realized it was ďa sceneĒ,
that scene was over.
would see Jack at folk festivals in the following years and I was
always glad to see him and pass the guitar around the campfires
at Kerrville, Falcon Ridge or the parking lot of the hotel in Okemah,
OK at the Woody Guthrie Festival. I'd often ask for "Potter's
Field" from The Nameless One and Jack would oblige and I would
try to sing the harmony.
always enjoyed his music and the way he presented it both on record
and live.I loved his voice and what he did with it. His guitar and
mandolin playing were always very solid and musical. He always had
good players . in person and on record. He would make records with
everybody playing and singing, direct to two- tracks in some cases.
He would make them in a day. IĀfm glad he made so many of them.
It makes not having him around a little bit easier. The lyrics are
so rich in imagery and allusions. Someone asked him once where he
went for inspiration. He said: "to the library."
donít know what they all mean or were about, but I enjoy them for
their atmosphere and mystery. He meant the words and music to go
deep, to go below conscious levels to some primal territory. He
brought me there.
are a few words about the man I knew. He encouraged and inspired
a lot of young writers. He didnít have to do that. It is a very
guess is that it will be a long time to measure the loss. I will
miss him. I donít like the punctuation marks that say a life is
over. I donít want to put a period at the end of this one.
donít believe in themÖ.