Another collection of Paxton's music described him as a 'troubador'. This wonderful re-release of two his earliest albums makes that point more forcefully than anything else I can think of.
Here are some of Tom's finest songs - from the gentle humour of 'Goin' to the zoo' and 'What did you learn in school today', to the honest romanticism of 'My lady's a wild flying dove'. But the true strength of this early music lies in Tom's songs about social justice (or, more accurately, social-injustice) and life in America in the 60's.
Take, for example, the brutal power of his lyrics in 'Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney', a song which recounts the ghastly murder of a black man in the southern states, and the sadistic, racist attitudes of the police. (After all, this was a case whose perpetrators were only brought to justice nearly 40 years later).
If you don't know the song, look at these sample verses and you'll see what I mean about Tom's power as a troubador ....
The night air is heavy, no cool breezes blow.
The sounds of the voices are worried and low.
Desperately wondering and desperate to know,
About Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney.
- - - - - -
The Pearl River was dragged and two bodies were found,
But it was a blind alley for both men were brown.
So they all shrugged their shoulders and the search it went on,
For Goodman and Schwerner and Chaney.
- - - - - -
The pot-bellied copper shook hands all around,
And joked with the rednecks who came into town
And they swore that the murderer soon would be found
And they laughed as they spat their tobacco.
We also mustn't forget the quality of Tom's guitar playing and the strength of his voice. These early albums capture him at his most powerful - much in the same way as the early music of Johnny Cash and Shawn Philips was captured in their early recordings.
If there is just one collection of Tom's early work that you're thinking of buying, this has to be it.