Tom Paxton has become a voice of his generation, addressing issues of injustice and inhumanity, laying bare the absurdities of modern culture, and celebrating the tenderest bonds of family, friends, and community.
In describing Tom Paxton’s influence on his fellow musicians, Pete Seeger has said: “Tom’s songs have a way of sneaking up on you. You find yourself humming them, whistling them, and singing a verse to a friend. Like the songs of Woody Guthrie, they’re becoming part of America.” Tom Paxton’s songs are reaching around the world more than he, or any of us, could have realized.
Paxton has been an integral part of the songwriting and folk music community since the early 60s Greenwich Village scene, and continues to be a primary influence on today’s “New Folk” performers. The Chicago native came to New York via Oklahoma, which he considers to be his home state and where he received a BFA in Drama from the University of Oklahoma in 1959.
Brought to New York courtesy of the US Army, Tom remained there following his discharge. His early success in Greenwich Village coffeehouses, such as The Gaslight and The Bitter End, led to an ever-increasing circle of work. Then in 1965 he made his first tour of the United Kingdom – the beginning of a career that has included at least one tour in each of the succeeding years.
Tom has performed thousands of concerts around the world in places including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Canada. That these fans still enjoy his music is a testament to the quality of his recent work, and to the enduring power of modern standards like “The Last Thing On My Mind,” “Ramblin’ Boy,” “Bottle Of Wine,” “Whose Garden Was This?,” “Goin’ To The Zoo,” and “The Marvelous Toy.” Paxton’s song books, critically acclaimed children’s books (available from HarperCollins), award-winning children’s recordings, and a catalog of hundreds of songs (recorded by artists running the gamut from Willie Nelson to Placido Domingo to Johnny Cash), all serve to document Tom Paxton’s 45-year career.
Tom Paxton’s place in folk music is secured not just by hit records and awards, but by the admiration of three generations of fellow musicians. An internationally recognized and loved cultural figure, he has always chosen goodwill over commercial success. His generosity has taken shape through gestures like performing a benefit concert performance for a little girl fighting leukemia and writing a personal note of encouragement to an up-and-coming songwriter. This is the man who wrote and lives the words, “Peace will come, and let it begin with me.” He is one of the great songwriters of the last century and will be reckoned as one of the greats in this century, as well.