Roots Celebrates Tim Hardin’s Birthday!

December 23rd, 2009
Tim Hardin's Woodstock Piano

Tim Hardin's Woodstock Piano; Remembering Tim on 12/23

Tim Hardin (1941-1980) moved to the Woodstock area in 1968 with his wife Susan Morss and his young son Damion. Already the town was a thriving music destination— with The Band, Bob Dylan, the Mothers of Invention, Richie Havens and the Blues Magoos in residence. It is said that Hardin, of all the songwriters in early 1960s Greenwich Village, was the best. His first album, recorded for Verve in 1966, yielded such tunes as “Reason to Believe,” which was covered by Rod Stewart, and “Hang On To a Dream” which became a staple for The Nice. In the aftermath of this release Bob Dylan referred to Hardin as the best songwriter alive.

It was with Tim Hardin 2, his second album, that the songwriter released “If I Were a Carpenter,” his most memorable song. Also on the album were such tunes as “Black Sheep Boy” and “Lady Came from Baltimore.” During an eight-month period from 1965 to 1966 some of his best-known songs were written on a piano in his room in Los Angeles. By the time Hardin moved to Woodstock his career was taking off. Although his album sales weren’t great, his talent garnered respect in the music world. Particularly after his song “If I Were A Carpenter” was covered by such established acts as Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash and June Carter, The Four Tops and many others. Hardin headlined at many of the Sound-Outs and at WOODSTOCK. In his book, The Road to Woodstock, Michael Lang writes, “Tim was a friend, and I was a big fan of his music and was hoping he’d be at his best onstage.” This could have been a big break for Tim. Hardin had a strong first set and then he invited his band to join him onstage. Gilles Malkine was playing rhythm guitar for Tim and said in Lang’s book that the set went so badly that Malkine quit the music business for many years.

Post-festival, Hardin continued to record for Columbia and other labels and enjoyed some commercial success with numbers like “Simple Song of Freedom,” but his early promise was never realized. On December 29, 1980 he passed away at the age of 39 from a heroin overdose.

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