Tom Paxton is what is known as a musician’s musician, having had songs recorded by many of his contemporaries, including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Dolly Parton and John Denver.
The American folk legend this week spoke to the Journal about hanging out in 1960s New York, who he has kept going in the music industry and how he wished more modern singers would take a stand through their art on issues that matter.
In 2009, Paxton received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his massive body of work, of which Nanci Griffith has said: “We are all born singing Tom Paxton songs.”
Tom said that while he has been a frequent visitor to other spots around Ireland, he was looking forward to making his debut in Derry at the Millennium Forum on Friday May 8th, with the gig here kicking off a month-long tour of Ireland and Britain.
“I’ve been to Ireland many. many times, as recently as a couple of years ago but never been to Derry. that’s why I’m looking forward to that very much,” he said.
Tom, whose ancestors came to America from Ireland but actually originated in Scotland, said that carving out such a successful career in music did not come on a silver platter.
“I put in, I kept my nose to the grindstone, but this has always been important to me so it’s no wonder I worked at it,” he said.
“You start with the talent. You have to have the talent but it takes so much more after that.
“It is all in what you do with it. I have known some extremely talented people who, for one reason or another, never made the grade.
“There doesn’t seem to be, for someone like myself. There’s no easy way; no quick way.
“The quick way is to have a smash hit record.
“I’ve been building a relationship with an audience for 55 years, putting out albums. I’ve been extremely lucky with that.”
Tom recalls sitting in a bar with Bob Dylan in Greenwhich Village and Dylan saying he was going to record one of Tom’s songs that he liked. It took Dylan over 30 years, but he kept the promise and recorded the song recently.
“Those were exciting times. We were all young and we all had talent.
John said that on the modern music scene, he sees Oklahoma’s young John Fullbright going places.
“It is death commercially to do that kind of thing,” he said, “but I don’t care. I have paid my dues and I say what I want to say. People accept it or they don’t, but at the same time I’m very careful not to be preachy.”
To book tickets to see Tom Paxton in concert with Robin Bullock, contact the Millennium Forum on 028 71264455 or go to: www.millenniumforum.co.uk.
Tickets are priced at £27.50.