Tribute To a Songpoet: Songs Of Eric Andersen was released digitally as a 41-track album via EARecords on January 9; and also as a 42-track, 3CD set via Y&T Music. The set fêtes a towering songwriter who mentored Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, and Joni Mitchell; co-wrote songs with Reed, Bob Weir, and Townes Van Zandt; saw his own songs covered by The Grateful Dead, Judy Collins, Fairport Convention, Gillian Welch, and Linda Thompson; appeared on the TV’s Johnny Cash Show and co-starred with Edie Sedgwick in an Andy Warhol film called Space; performing on the legendary Festival Express and Rolling Thunder Revue tours; and was most recently the subject of a full-length documentary The Songpoet, that aired nationally on PBS in 2021.
Bob Dylan contributes a previously unreleased take of Andersen’s civil rights song ‘Thirsty Boots’ recorded in 1970 with Dylan’s guitar, vocals, and harmonica accompanied by Al Kooper on piano, David Bromberg on guitar, with bass added in 2021 by Tony Garnier, newly mixed by Steve Addabbo (not available in the digital edition).
Tribute To a Songpoet: Songs of Eric Andersen includes 33 newly recorded tracks in total, including a soulful ‘Foghorn’ by Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, Janis Ian’s insightful version of ‘Hills of Tuscany,’ Amy Helm’s gorgeous ‘Blue River,’ ‘Miss Lonely Are You Blue’ sung by Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith, R.E.M., Allen Ginsberg, Paul McCartney), Wesley Stace bringing the jangle to ‘Time Run Like a Freight Train,’ a biting ‘Rain Falls Down In Amsterdam’ sung by Willie Nile, and GRAMMY winner Dom Flemons’ foot-stomping ‘Song to J.C.B.,’ which Andersen first wrote for bluesman J.C. Burris.
Also included are previously released gems such as Mary Chapin Carpenter’s beautiful rendition on ‘Violets Of Dawn’ (not on the digital version); and Linda Ronstadt’s 1972 recording of ‘(I Ain’t Always Been) Faithful,’ which features Glenn Frey on guitar and backing vocals, Don Henley on bass and backing vocals, and Buddy Emmons on steel guitar (also not on digital). The compilation closes with a heart-rending version of ‘Blue River’ recorded live in 1995 by Rick Danko (of The Band and a bandmate of Eric’s in the trio Danko/Fjeld/Andersen); Andersen first conceived ‘Blue River’ in Danko’s company. Andersen recalls, “Rick showed me the big blue shiny Hudson from the Rhinecliff bridge. I wrote the song a little later when I returned to my home in Venice on coast of LA”.
‘Foghorn’ – Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams: