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GUEST,Peace (Hope you look here first, Art) Paul Clayton biography coming in Sept 2008 (33) RE: Paul Clayton biography coming in Sept 25 Oct 08


The Folk Revival--It's ups and downs, October 19, 2008

By Arthur Thieme "Art Thieme"

Bob Coltman's book on Paul Clayton and his era of the Folk Song Revival in the USA is right on. From where I sat within the revival, he was a valued finder/collector of these songs. As a singer of traditional ballads and story songs, Paul Clayton put the tale in the songs first---even before himself--possibly partially because of his own vocal limitations. --- After reading this illuminating and sad story of his life, I come away feeling that his life might've been happier if he had been satisfied with being what he did best, a singer and interpreter of traditional material. As Bob Coltman analyzes here quite eloquently, the changing musical times and tastes, the intrusion of pop/Beatles/rock/Dylan and all that that entails (made vibrant in these pages) created a gestalt that Paul could not deal with adequately at all. His guilt and self recrimination from being gay in a time when it was not at all accepted in American life, is poignant, tragic, and sadly ironic as we in the 21st century try to live our ideals in a more enlightened way than our forebears ever would consider. His frustrations with the tremendous successes of his "friend" Bob Dylan -- combined with the fact that many who were there felt Bobby had "taken" one of Paul's found songs and made a million selling song when Peter Paul and Mary recorded it. Paul Clayton's life is filled with the ups and deep downs that flesh is heir to---and it's all in this fine biography of a very sensitive bipolar man who, after hitting bottom, saw the only way to end his pain was to end his own life.

Another sad irony is that, in our time, we now have psychiatric drugs to alleviate many of Paul Clayton's symptoms. ---- I met him only once---and he taught me a song -- a vivid and transporting folk song lyric that I sang for the next 30 years. --- Also, listen to Bob Coltman's fine recordings of folk songs -- and especuially his own composed songs like "Lonesome Robin" and "Before They Close The Minstrel Show." You won't be sorry. (I just had to toss that in.---A.T. ;-)

Art Thieme


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