John Hartford was once something of a renegade within traditional music circles. This fact may be less obvious today because there is so little to offend on Good Old Boys and Live From Mountain Stage. But way back in the '70s, traditional musicians just didn't sing about drugs ("Granny Wontcha Smoke Some Marijuana") or women's breasts ("The Golden Globe Award"). Most still don't. The highly eccentric Nobody Knows What You Do was recorded around the same time as the equally unusual and better-known Mark Twain. Like Mark Twain, Hartford's approach on Nobody Knows What You Do is just about as far out as Hartford ever ventured. A couple of songs work beautifully. "In Tall Buildings" and "Joseph's Dream" are shot through with romanticism and a touch of the sentimental, making them the most intriguing pieces on this album. "The False Hearted Tenor Waltz" finds Hartford adding contorted vocals to an otherwise lovely melody, while "Somewhere My Love -- We'll Meet Again Sweet Heart" offers a hillbilly version of the Doctor Zhivago theme. Really. The album's arrangements, however, veer closer to the country-rock of the New Riders of the Purple Sage than the one-man show of Mark Twain. The three instrumentals, including "John McLaughlin," a tribute to the jazz guitarist, sound a little like outtakes of Bob Dylan's "Nashville Skyline Rag." Nobody Knows What You Do shouldn't be the first choice for a new Hartford devotee. It may not even appeal to fans of his more recent work. But for those who can't get enough of those heady days of the early- to mid-'70s when an artist could still go into the studio and make an album like this, Nobody Knows What You Do will speak to the inner hippie-hillbilly.
|Label:||Rounder / Umgd|
Performance CreditsJohn Hartford Primary Artist,Banjo,Fiddle,Guitar,Violin,Overdubs,Vocal Harmony
Buddy Emmons Dobro,Steel Guitar
Mac Wiseman Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Sam Bush Mandolin,Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Benny Martin Fiddle,Guitar,Violin,Vocal Harmony
Jim Colvard Guitar
Dalton Dillingham Bass,Bowed Bass
Roy M. "Junior" Husky Bass
Kenny Malone Drums
Dale Sellers Guitar,Electric Guitar
Jimmy Colvard Guitar,Electric Guitar
David Briggs Piano,Keyboards,Electric Piano
Technical CreditsJohn Hartford Liner Notes
Michael Melford Producer
Miles Davis Composer
Claude Hill Engineer
Mike Melford Producer
Marian L. Heyman Composer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nobody Knows What You Do based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
I fell in love with John Hartford's work in 1977 in Houston. Had nothing else to do, so went with a friend to a club to hear him ("Oh yeah, he was on 'The Smothers Brothers.'") and the Dillards. He opened, poor Dillards. Blew me away. Clogged on miked plywood floor, fiddled, and sang -- nonstop.
My sister turned me on to this album two years later in college. The lyrics are all funny, true, clever; the music is better than solid. He's got great musicians here -- Sammy Bush, himself, and others -- but this album is not so much about musical virtuosity. The music supports the lyrics.
Order it on a lark, just as I went to see him on a lark.