Song Of The Day 10/8/2015: The Pozo-Seco Singers – “I’ll Be Gone”

The Hidden '60s, Part 2 – Folk music prospered in the 1960’s, for a lot of reasons. You had Harry Smith’s 1952 compilation Anthology of American Folk Music, which kickstarted the renaissance and still wields tremendous influence in current times. You had the twilight of Woody Guthrie’s career and the dawn of Bob Dylan’s, mounting social awareness of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam skirmish, the relative ease of tuning acoustic guitars and cleaning harmonicas and the sweet low overhead in general. You didn’t need karaoke machines for instant audience-participatory gatherings back then. You just needed a lanky, Pan-type moppet and his Sears Roebuck 6-string, a rudimentary sense of melody and either a standing ashtray or a robust campfire. But you didn’t want to use the campfire indoors, because you’d run the risk of burning the entire house down, resulting in many likely deaths, and probably someone later writing a folk song about it.

People did folk music either alone or in groups. It depended on how much time you had and how well you played with others. Sets of three seemed particularly profitable, like Peter, Paul & Mary and the Kingston Trio. A lot of their songs were cutting, timely and encouraging of certain types of societal action or reaction. Still others were about magic dragons. At least on the surface they were about magic dragons. They could have really been about something else, like Cold War tension or the cultural weltanschauung brought about by the Cuban revolution. Or pot. Yeah, come to think of it, they were probably about pot. Giant, disorganized and far too extroverted dragons all hopped up on the marijuana, taking advantage of inverted master-subordinate relationships with local children so they could feed their nasty strings-and-sealing-wax habits without giving so much as a sulfuric snort in gratitude.

Excuse me. Didn’t mean to grandstand. I know the web has no time for grandstanding. Let’s talk about today’s track from the Pozo-Seco Singers, “I’ll Be Gone” (#92, 1966), which I’m truly in love with. The Pozo-Seco Singers were organized around Susan Taylor, Lofton Kline and future Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams. They had a modest run on the charts, including two Top 40 singles, “I Can Make It With You” and “Look What You’ve Done,” with Williams singing lead on both. Pozo-Seco had an easier relationship with rock music than, say, PP&M, bridging the gap between traditional folkies and electric rockers like the Byrds. Taylor sings lead on “I’ll Be Gone,” a quietly intent and gracefully detailed story of breaking free from an idyllic but limiting hometown. Good luck and beware of those supposedly “magic” dragons. Moochers.

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