List of the Day - Archives

Tim Hardin, 30 Years After

List Of The Day

Tim Hardin died on December 29, 1980 from a heroin overdose. He'd acquired the habit overseas in Vietnam back in the early 1960s and spent the rest of his life battling it. John Lennon's death earlier in the month left Hardin in the shadows where he spent his entire career.

His earliest recordings feature a guy doing the blues-folk shuffle (and were not officially released until he became known with the songs listed below). Somehow (magic!) he started writing songs that were unlike anyone else's. His most popular songs were "If I Were A Carpenter" (the hit version being recorded by Bobby Darin) and "Reason To Believe." FYI, "Carpenter" would be something like my #12 pick, but here are the 10 I chose in a heartbeat. And I would gladly go to 20 and over.

10) "Don't Make Promises" - The voice made you believe his truths and his lies. When he sang and warned others, it was like he was reminding himself of who he really was.

9) "Last Sweet Moments" - Actually, I would recommend the entire Suite for Susan Moore and Damion: We Are One, One, All In One. It's difficult to come by. But it plays as a seamless whole, rising and falling like tides. This track is a great example of what awaits you.

8) "Reason to Believe" - Sure, Rod Stewart had a huge hit with this and it surely gets played at weddings where people don't mind being told that they'd been lied to straightfaced while the other cried. Who knew Timmy was so Goth?

7) "Part Of The Wind" - Hardin began his playing with a lot of blues, and this track, when it doesn't sound like another perfect tune for a wedding, is a mix of elegant blues and jazz and Hardin's own intense romantic streak.

6) "Lady Came From Baltimore" - Hardin's brutal honesty came through. Even if the actual girl came from New Jersey.

5) "Black Sheep Boy" - Hardin wrote songs of minimalist dignity. Autobiographical beyond what many imagined. And covered by so many.

4) "How Can We Hang On To A Dream" - It's an amazing rarity to find a songwriter who can say so much with so little. This song is so gentle and so sparse, it's almost as if it was never here.

3) "Red Balloon" - Tim Hardin knew what his problems were, but that in many ways made things even worse.

2) "Tribute To Hank Williams" - Hardin was so much closer to Hank Williams than ever he probably realized. If only he had been as prolific.

1) "You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie" - A song with this good a title has to be great. At 1:49, the title takes up half the song. A great sentiment coming from a guy who knew how to lie his way through anything. The string section is killer.

View Comments