Tim Hardin’s 2 is one of my favourite albums. It’s subtle, gorgeous folk rock, restrained and direct, and clocking in at around 22 minutes, a work of brevity that never outstays its welcome. Released in 1967, it’s now best know through numerous covers by other artists (notably Scott Walker, Johnny Cash and Bobby Darin) and his hit song from the album ‘If I Were A Carpenter’.
The songs from the album that I love and that are most familiar to me would have to be ‘Black Sheep Boy’ and ‘Lady Came From Baltimore’, which I first heard though covers by Okkervil River and Scott Walker, respectively (both covers are great and you should chase them up!). I think that what I’m drawn to most about these songs is the people of Hardin’s lyrics- they take on almost mythical mantles. I see the Black Sheep Boy as the itinerant outsider, the prodigal son, beautiful but simultaneously feared and envied for the unknown he has traversed. The thief and the lady of ‘Lady Came From Baltimore’ are replaying the age-old tale of star-crossed lovers, though I suspect it has a strongly autobiographical bent, as he calls the lady ‘Susan Moore’, which seems to have been another name for his wife (he wrote an album called A Suite For Susan Moore and Damion for his wife and son, released in 1969).
Hardin got his start in music in the Greenwich folk scene of the 1960’s (the same one that a certain Mr Dylan was also a part of), then moved out to California where he met his wife, Susan Morss, before moving back to New York City with her to work on his music. She’s in the picture on the cover above, pregnant with their child, at the house they lived in at the time. This picture of peaceful domestic life was unable to last long as Hardin’s heroin addiction took over in the 1970’s. His final album, Nine, was released in 1973, and he died in 1980 of a heroin overdose.
Below are some of my favourites from the album, which I recommend you add to your collection of vinyl, MP3, or whatever, if you haven’t already.
Black Sheep Boy
You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie
Lady Came From Baltimore