Eric Andersen is a legend in the music world. His words, music, and most importantly, his vision, are what makes him a storied figure for not only folk fans but for anyone who is familiar with the beginnings of the Greenwich Village movement that went on to migrate to towns and cities all over the world. During my time volunteering at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA, I booked him once, if not twice. His appearances had the audiences riveted to their seats. There was great reverence and appreciation for his performance on our humble stage.
Since I interviewed Eric back in 2006, he has produced more music and more writing. The William Burroughs tribute book, Naked Lunch at 50 with his essay “Danger Zone” has been published and is available at your favorite bookseller. He has released several more new CD and collections of his work. He’s toured extensively and continues to be an inspiration!
For more information about Eric, visit his website.
Eric has the subject of a documentary called The Songpoet. Watch this trailer!
Eric is also prominently featured in the documentary, Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation.
Enjoy this special Paste session with Eric who is accompanied by Steve Addabbo on electric guitar, Jagoda on percussion, and Eric Lee on mandolin and fiddle.
Here is my interview with Eric from October 26, 2006.
How would you compare the musical and political environment of today and of the time you started out?
It is similar, except now there are a million more singer-songwriters compared to the 10 or so writing in the Village when I started out. And it could be argued that the first 10 had more to say about what was going on around them than the million who followed: an exponentially inverse relationship.
Do you get a sense of whether the people who are in their teens, twenties and even thirties are cognizant of the folk masters like yourself, Van Ronk, Ochs, Patrick Sky, and others from the “early days?” Do they come out to your shows?
Yes, I’ve seen a lot of college-age audience members in the audience who were often introduced to the music through their parents and then pursued it on their own. The more enlightened ones, while living out the time of their own generation, have had to simultaneously relive the times, music, and events of their preceding generations. The reason I recorded the 2 cover albums of the first-wave of singer-songwriters in ’60s Greenwich Village, besides the beauty of the work, was to expose the audience to the songs and songwriting of those ground-breaking writers, and to entice the listeners to explore further some great significant music. For those interested the titles of these albums are The Street Was Always There and Waves.
Many consider More Hits from Tin Can Alley album as a classic. It clearly was a big project and an innovative one. Did it ever get the recognition it deserved?
Yes it’s surprising, since it was released by Vanguard Records, a rather small but important label. People still bring that album up as one of their favorites because that was the album where they first became introduced to my music.
I was introduced to your music by discovering Blue River at my local public library. I kept checking it out until I finally got my own copy. To me, it was the perfect blend of lyrics and instrumentation, which evoked an unforgettable mood, an almost mystical aura. Was this the album that resonated the most with those who follow your music?
It sold the most world-wide over the years, about 500,000 copies.What’s it like having one foot firmly implanted in America and one in Europe? What are your European fans like compared to those here in the States?They seem to like the same songs and albums.
Can you imagine yourself doing anything but singing and playing music?I like writing in all forms.
I’m currently working on an essay for a British/American publication celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Naked Lunch by Beat writer William Burroughs, and lyrics for an upcoming album of original material. Otherwise working in the field as a naturalist wouldn’t be so bad.