29 April 2010

Carpenter

Who was that rather reluctant American troubadour on the stage of the Floral Hall in Hornsea some time in 1971? Hornsea, halfway down Bridlington Bay on the east coast of Yorkshire. Little more than a large village that once perhaps had pretensions of becoming a seaside resort to rival Scarborough further up the coast.

Inside that North Sea-beaten Floral Hall between the ages of fifteen and eighteen I met my first girlfriends, had a fight that stilled the dance floor, began my one and only LSD trip, shared tales, downed copious amounts of beer and enjoyed some great live music including UFO, Mott the Hoople, Roxy Music and a sad-looking thirty year old from Oregon called Tim Hardin.

Tim Hardin...You don't hear the name much these days. He was born in Eugene in 1941, entered the US marines in 1959 and was subsequently posted to Vietnam where, as well as being a "military advisor", he apparently discovered heroin. Back in the USA he became part of the Greenwich Village scene but somehow never really fitted in. He was on the edge of things but later found a place on the main stage bill at Woodstock in 1969.

In his last ten years, he was often over here in England, eking out a living from folk club appearances and mini-concerts such as the one I witnessed in Hornsea all those years ago. But between appearances he was wrestling with a lonely heroin addiction that ultimately meant he only lived half a life, dying in December 1980. On his simple memorial stone at the Twin Oaks cemetery in Oregon - these true words are inscribed - "He sang from the heart".

Tim Hardin was a talented songwriter who never really followed the crowd. He was his own man. Some songwriters leave little behind as the tide of time washes over their achievements but high up the shingle on Hornsea beach Tim Hardin has left at least two songs that endure - "If I Were A Carpenter" and this one... "Reason to Believe", once memorably re-interpreted by Rod Stewart but covered by several other bigtime artistes. Thank you Tim for at least leaving us this song.

7 comments:

  1. There may still be a teensy-weensy bit of LSD left in your system.

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  2. Dolores2:33 am

    I thought you were going to tell us that he ended up in the mere or pecked to death by the swans. The Floral Hall is rather past its best nowadays...but every time I pass it, I shall for evermore picture you snogging,snorting and slurping in its dark corners. Thank goodness I didn't move to East Yorkshire sooner than I did! Nice song,'though.x

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  3. Sad to learn of Tim Hardin's brief life but he left us with 2 really beautiful songs.We all know them of ourse but it never crossed my mind who wrote them.I shall think of Tim next time I hear them.
    I've been to Scarborough once as a child when the family visited my Grandfather's war buddy(they were soldiers serving in the Far East during WW2 & survivors of the Death Railway in Burma)and I recall Aunty Gladys driving us to Hornsea one sunny afternoon to see another beach other than Scaborough.I remember twas a lovely little seaside town.

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  4. RHYMES WITH... No comment Beelzebub!
    DOLORES Couldn't you throw in a few more "s" words for good measure? By the way, I never before came across a Dolores in East Yorkshire! You must be Spanish? (Another S word)
    JEAN Thanks for that. I just wanted to remind visitors to this blog that there was once a talented songsmith called Tim Hardin and that he died too young...And you're right, Hornsea is a pretty nice little coastal town.

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  5. As I've told you before, I think, Hornsea is like Hellsea after my mother messed up on the bus timetable and we were left stranded there in about 1984.

    Typically mum and grandma were panicking until we managed to book (which seems pretty obvious these days) a very expensive minicab...

    It wasn't Tim Hardin driving though if anyone is looking for a link between the blog and this anecdote...

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  6. Reminds me a bit of Tom Paxton, whose music I really liked (and still do!)Although I know "If I were a Carpenter" I didn't know this song so thank you for letting me hear it!

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  7. I'd never heard of Tim Harden, but now I know who wrote those beautiful songs. Thank you!

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