Although an influential personality on the 1960s folk circuit, Hardin had little success as a recording artist. He's better known as a songwriter since other artists had hits with many of his compositions. In 1962 he recorded This Is Tim Hardin, which established his style: folk with a strong jazz and blues influence. A term like smoky folk comes to mind, a bit like the UK artist Nick Drake.
His third album, the classic Tim Hardin II included the powerful and evocative track Reason To Believe that, as double A Side with Maggie May, topped the British and American charts for Rod Stewart in 1971. The folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary also recorded this song. The other classic on the album, If I Were A Carpenter, was a top ten hit for Bobby Darin. Incidentally Hardin's only hit single was a Darin composition Sing A Simple Song Of Freedom (1969).
Carpenter was revived by The Four Tops in 1968 and by Johnny Cash and June Carter in 1970. Other artists who had hits with Hardin's songs include Johnny Mathis (Misty Roses), Scott Walker (Black Sheep Boy) and The Nice (Hang On To A Dream).
On December 29, 1980, during the recording sessions of his final work, he died of an overdose. Hardin was 39 years old and had survived his one-time contemporaries Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix by a decade.
Besides the aforementioned songs, my other favorite is the beautiful Red Balloon. My only complaint with this compilation is that it omits Hardin's exquisite interpretation of Leonard Cohen's Bird On A Wire.
There is great beauty in Hardin's subtle but expressive vocal style. Like Nick Drake, he remains an obscure singer-songwriter with roots in the 1960s, who is well worth investigating if you like authentic, moving music.