John Hartford may be best known as the writer of the classic hit “Gentle On My Mind,” but the legacy of the talented singer, musician, and tunesmith reaches beyond that iconic track. When he wasn’t playing sidekick to “Gentle” singer Glen Campbell on TV’s Good Time Hour or appearing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Hartford was also an in-demand, banjo-picking performer. He appeared for acts like James Taylor, Delaney & Bonnie, Seals & Crofts, and The Byrds. His unique, Flatt and Scruggs-inspired style started him on his music sojourn that found him embracing conventional country, classic bluegrass stylings, and Dylan-inspired introspection. Blend all these influences and you get Newgrass – the style he singlehandedly created with the 1971 album Aero Plain.
All these facets of John Hartford’s career are explored on Real Gone Music’s upcoming compilation, Backroads, Rivers & Memories: The Rare and Unreleased John Hartford. The Hartford Estate-approved collection brings together a whopping 27 recordings, 19 of which have never been released before, and the other 8 comprised of his rare sides recorded with The Ozark Mountain Trio. Also appearing are three live radio tracks from 1964, and 16 songwriter demos from 1965-1969. Among these demos are five newly unearthed songs that have never been heard before. Fans will also get to hear alternate versions of favorites like “Gentle On My Mind,” “Steam Powered Aero Plain,” and “This Eve of Parting,” which recently appeared in the film Lady Bird.
The set was compiled and annotated by Hartford expert Skip Heller, whose notes grace a booklet filled with photos from the Hartford family archive. The music was mastered by Kevin Chubirka at Haven.
With a wealth of newly uncovered music and rarities from one of the pillars of the bluegrass revival, Backroads, Rivers & Memories: The Rare and Unreleased John Hartford is a welcome addition to the Hartford canon that’s sure to please country and bluegrass fans everywhere. Get your copy from the pre-order links below and keep scrolling to check out the full track listing!
2. Tall Tall Grass
3. Front Porch
4. Eve of My Multiplication
9. This Eve of Parting
10. Self Made Man
11. Minus The Woman
12. Like Unto a Mockingbird
13. Grown Up Man
14. Gentle On My Mind
15. Steam Powered Aereo Plain (first rehearsal excerpt)
16. Station Break
17. Ice Cold Love
18. Matthew 24
21. Greenback Dollar
22. Jesus Loves Everybody
23. I Forgot to Forget
24. The Way Is Narrow
25. Short Life of Trouble
26. That Great Day Is Coming
27. When I Feel the Hand of My Saviour
Tracks 1-16 previously unreleased demos
Tracks 17-19 previously unreleased; recorded live on WHOW, Clinton IL with Pat Burton (guitar) & Nate Bray (mandolin), 1964
Tracks 20-27 singles originally released by The Ozark Mountain trio, including:
Track 20 from Shanon Records single SH-301, 1958
Tracks 22, 24, 26, 27 from Backwoods Gospel Songs, Shanon EP SH-EP-201, 1962
Tracks 23 and 25 from Marlo single 1511, 1961