R.I.P. Jack Hardy: Mentor to many, master of song
Photo by Sara Finke.
Very sad news this morning. Various sites are reporting that John Studebaker Hardy passed away at the age of 63.
Hardy wasn’t all that well-known outside of folkie circles, but he deserved to be. If for no reason, he was a great teacher and friend to songwriters who traveled through the New York new folk scene. His song “The Zephyr” surely deserves a place in the canon. Hardy’s mix of Yeatsian mysticism and topical wit was singular.
I wrote a short tribute to Jack that you can read at KDHX.org. On the same page, you can also listen to an excellent in-studio session with the master, including a revealing interview, recorded in 2008.
R.I.P. Jack Hardy (originally published at KDHX.org)
John Studebaker Hardy was a central figure, something of a guru actually, on the New York folk scene. He founded Fast Folk Magazine and the Songwriters’ Exchange workshops, and inspired a generation of post-Dylan folkies to write about more than just themselves.
I profiled Hardy in a February 1999 issue of the Riverfront Times: “a more literate Celtic Townes Van Zandt, grave in his tone and generous in his ideals, as rooted in the present soil and sky of Ireland and America as he is fascinated by the legends of the past.”
His output is vast, beginning with a classic self-titled album in 1971, and gathered, in part, on a mammoth box set called The Collected Works of Jack Hardy. I had the pleasure of reviewing the 2000 album, Omens, for Amazon.com:
“For his first new release since 1997’s Celtic-flavored The Passing, Hardy turns his attention to nonchalant, Americana-ready folk rock and a high-brow library full of poetic images. ‘I ought to know great literature by heart,’ Hardy sings on the opening track, but his reading comprehension is hardly wanting. Hardy’s dense, mysterious conjurings of Irish mythology won’t be to every listener’s taste, though his love songs, with fragrant lines like ‘the willow weeps although unheard’ and ”round this old house the wind it whines / with a knocking keeping time,’ are as vivid and intense as any being written today.”
Hardy visited KDHX 3 years ago for a session with Songwriters Showcase. Stream the in-studio set (with a revealing interview) above or on the Live at KDHX page, see Sara Finke’s photos here and raise a toast to one of the very best.