Jack Hardy — Liner Notes for Noir

By way of what used to be called liner notes:

Too many photo booths in train station bars
Posing as heroes in some forgotten war
This is the first day of the rest of your life
So smile and take a picture
                 - From "Winter Sunlight"

Everywhere I have ever traveled, for over forty years, I have always gone into a train station and taken a picture of myself in the photo booth. This collection of songs is like that. They are snapshots of places I have traveled, of people who were with me, of moments in time. Or, they are snapshots of myself when people I have known have traveled away from me.

About the songs:

  1. Memphis: A few years back, I was hanging out with Rose Polenzani in Memphis and we went into a café that had beautiful ante-bellum architecture. There were twenty naked women painted on the ceiling. I counted them. I proceeded to have a religious experience. How many biblical references can you count?
  2. Uley Mill Song: On a tour in England I was playing and hanging out at Sandra Morgan's 17th-century pub, The Old Crown, in Uley in the Cotswolds area. Someone told me about the history of the village, how there used to be water-powered mills that made the broadcloth for the uniforms during the Napoleonic wars. But, as soon as steam power was discovered, they closed these mills and moved everything to Yorkshire to be closer to the coal. They threw all the workers out on the road. This is a little love song set in that place, at that time.
  3. Breakout: I was trying to help my son one day with his chemistry homework and had a flash-back to being in school, in class, in springtime, with random words and concepts floating in and out of your daydream, when all you want to do is breakout of there. My son somehow passed without my (inability to) help.
  4. The Lady Turned Away: The older we get the more we expect the people we meet to have the sum-total of all the good qualities of everyone we've ever gone out with (and none of the bad). As opposed to when we are young when we just jump in and take the good with the bad. This song is a plea to ignore the history and live in the moment.
  5. The Ladies of Cork: I was telling my friend Padraig in Cork about having broken up with my girlfriend. He sent me a very kind email saying that when I had been in cork, several ladies had "taken a shine" to me. I think he was just trying to cheer me up but I had fun writing the song anyway.
  6. The Dust of Africa: I went to South Africa for the wedding of my friend Tim Robinson. Being a folksinger of insubstantial means, I bought my plane ticket on Price line. They routed me into Johannesburg (the wedding was near Cape town, 700 miles away). I rented a small car and, against all better judgment, drove through the desert down, and through the "Garden Route" and the mountains on the way back. The one thing that becomes very clear, very quickly, is that although apartheid may have ended on paper, there is not much evidence of that fact in reality.
  7. Winter Sunlight: Some novice songwriter opened a show for me a few years back and one of his first songs was about "looking out his window." I had to laugh because one of my very first songs was about "looking out my window." Having no new song at the last minute before our weekly songwriters' meeting, I decided to look out my Houston Street window and write an updated version of the song. I was playing the song at a campfire down at the Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival and introduced it as a country-western song. Chuck Pyle said, "That's not a country song, that's folk-noir!" The term sort of stuck.
  8. In Memory of Federico Garcia Lorca: Suzanne Vega was telling me about visiting and performing at Lorca's house in Spain and how his niece was the caretaker. And about her sad eyes. Suzanne should have written this song but she didn't.
  9. Empires: After re-reading The Declaration of Independence I was struck by the fact that the longwinded rant against King George III was very relevant today, but about our own regime. Empires of any kind are prone to injustice.
  10. London Town: I have often felt that I could have starred in any number of traditional folk songs and this one is no exception (except for the fact that I wrote it).
  11. Dig a Hole to China: I was asked to sing my song "Ground Zero" and be interviewed by German Public Television on the first anniversary of 9/11. This was to be for their morning show at 8am so it had to be filmed live at 2am New York time. They didn't tell me until the last moment that is was to be filmed from the roof of a hotel overlooking "ground zero" which by that time was nothing but a giant hole in the ground. It was my first time back to the scene of the crime of the century since that fateful day. Needless to say, it was very traumatic. I wrote this song driving to Texas later that day.
  12. Saint Clare: I have a religious icon of Saint Clare sitting on my desk that was given to me by Patrick Brayer. It is supposed to be holding a monstrance but I have it holding a candle. I wrote this song for a friend who went out on tour. I sort of forgot about it but Suzanne Vega remembered it from our songwriters' meeting and recorded a beautiful version of it for her album Songs in Red and Gray. Then her version of it was used for the television show Felicity. It turns out that Saint Clare (among other things) is the patron saint of television. The Goddess works in wondrous ways!

About the musicians and other contributing professionals:

  1. Tom Duval (guitar) started touring with me when he was still finishing up at Columbia University. He started out playing bass with me and then switched over to guitar. He played with me on the infamous Mitch Ryder tour. He is featured on The Hunter album as well as Civil Wars, Omens and Bandolier.
  2. Mike Laureanno (bass) has toured with me in Europe and America. He is on the Omens album as well as Bandolier.
  3. Kate MacLeod (fiddle) has toured with me in Europe and America. She played on the Omens album as well as Bandolier.
  4. Dave Anthony (drums, percussion) first played with me on The Passing, then on Omens. He did one tour with me in Europe.
  5. Ken Beasley (flamenco guitar) is a member of our songwriters meeting in NYC. He has toured with me as a bass player but is better known as a flamenco player.
  6. Danny Littwin (engineer) also recorded my Two of Swords album, which we recorded at my apartment on Houston St. in Greenwich Village. We were going to do this one there as well but the construction on the streets outside prohibited that. We moved the session to my family's house up in Durham Ct. where we recorded the whole thing in one day (Sept. 10, 2007) live, with no overdubs. The day also featured some great meals prepared by Mikey and some critical listening by un-indicted-co-conspirator Roy Champagne.
  7. Mark Dann (mastering) recorded and played on my Cauldron album, did numerous tours with me, and was the main recording engineer for Fast Folk. He also re-mastered several of the albums for my boxed sets. As you can see, we keep it all in the family.
  8. Barry Fingerhut (photography) is a fine-art photographer from New York who has photographed modern dancers in the past. In addition to the photos of the musicians in the booklet, he also captured the assemblage in the photo on the back on the CD.


Copyright © 2007 Jack Hardy Music

Main Jack Hardy Page