Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Recorded live at The Chapel of Our Lady Restoration in Cold Spring, NY on May 9, 1992

This project has grown largely out of seventeen years of acquaintance with the Hudson River sloop Clearwater, and particularly with the Sloop Singers, that amorphous and ubiquitous collection of performers that appear wherever music is needed to help spread the Clearwater message. Of course, some of the roots of this recording go back to the farm days of my youth in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. There I plowed and sowed and reaped just as in Ian Woods' song, and I have never lost a sense of magic in the land. But I left the farm for "higher" education and never went back. My path veered a bit, from truncated graduate studies to editing film strips to cab driving in the Big Apple, but music proved to be my constant star. When I met the Clearwater and the Sloop Singers, I began to find a voice for celebrating my love of the natural world and my distress at its abuse.

With the Sloop Singers I also discovered the excitement of singing with a full-throated chorus in multiple harmony, and coaxing audiences to join in. This has grown to be an important part of my own performance, and I have come to realize that the power of what I do is in the sharing, particularly during choruses in concert. One of my greatest joys is to be wrapped in the sound of an audience singing unrefrained (to coin a bad musical pun). I consider it a sad, if not criminal, aspect of the modern era that we are constantly bombarded by canned entertainment, particularly music, and generally discouraged from making our own. There are several evils inherent here, including subtle assuptions that one needs to have or to be something special to make music, but the greatest evil is the simple deprivation of the soul satisfaction and physical therapy of creating musical tones in the body. Singing centers and binds and heals.

And so I settled on doing a live performance, to celebrate the earth and share my concerns for the future. I thank all those who have helped me to do so, particularly all the Sloop Singers who came to Cold Spring to add their voices to the "chorus." I also thank all the fine writers from whom I've gleaned material for this album. If all the wonderful songs being written these days could be heard by enough people, we might see some remarkable changes. So that's where you come in. Forgive the occasional thump and squeek of an old chapel, sit back and join in. Sing along, and then sing these songs for somebody else. Pass along the word!

  1. Suffolk Lament (Ian Woods) 2:42
  2. Unicorns (Bill Caddick) 3:46
  3. This Old Earth (Bob Zentz) 4:34
  4. The Final Trawl (Archie Fisher) 4:27
  5. Ode to the Freshkills Landfill (Jan P. Christensen) 3:53
  6. The Last Leviathan (Andy Barnes) 5:16
  7. Crossing the Water (Bill Staines) 3:27
  8. Starting Place (Karen Beth) 3:37
  9. Long Wing Feathers (traditional Arapahoe chant) 2:07
  10. It Really Isn't Garbage (Daniel Einbender) 2:45
  11. I Need to Be Greedy (Geoff Kaufman) 4:43
  12. Survivor Leave (Ken Stephens) 4:14
  13. There'll Come a Day (Bob Killian)/ Oh, Had I a Golden Thread (Pete Seeger) 5:47
  14. Tree of Life (Guy Carawan) 3:31

Total time: 55:55

Purchase price of this CD is $15

We really love your of the things that impresses me so about Tree of Life is that it is so lyrical and interesting and varied. There are a number of ecologically-oriented recordings that end up being preachy & boring, and too heavy-handed to advance the cause. Your recording is a delightful contrast to that!

Caroline Paton, Folk Legacy Records