Johnny They Hardly Knew Ye: Remembering John Stewart by Frank Kresen

Frank Kresen and I share a deep, lifetime affection for unique songwriter John Stewart, who died six years ago on January 19, 2006.  I have written about John Stewart here, and I’m pasting in a link below to a post I wrote two years ago.  But the real treat in this post is the PDF Preface  — Johnny They Hardly Knew Ye — by Frank Kresen.  Here it is.  Frank is writing a book about John, and we will be publishing it here in installments.  This is the first installment – enjoy!  You can click on it and read it online, or right click (control click on a Mac) and download it.  Many thanks to Frank Kresen for sharing this with all of us.

For those who know nothing about John, start with the realization the Rolling Stone named him one of the 100 most influential songwriters of the modern era.  He was a member of the Kingston Trio before going single, and wrote Daydream Believer, which is a nice song but not representative of who he became. His most famous songs are California Bloodlines, July You’re a Woman, Kansas, Survivors, Mother Country, Big Horse, Eighteen Wheels — I could go on, but those are the first ones that come to mind.

Without further ado, here is the Preface to Frank’s book.  Try reading it with some of John’s music playing int he background.  Theoretically you can open it and read it online, or left click and download it, or left click and choose “Open in New Tab”.

Preface: Johnny They Hardly Knew Ye

My article remembering John:

Remembering John Stewart, a Visionary Songwriter, A Great American, and a Good, Good Man

And some YouTube Videos of some of his best songs (and there were many) — just go to Youtube and google “John Stewart”.



8 thoughts on “Johnny They Hardly Knew Ye: Remembering John Stewart by Frank Kresen

  1. From PAULA BERINSTEIN, Writing and Publishing Consultant at The Writing Show, Greater Los Angeles area: “I love John Stewart, Frank. I’m so glad you’ve written about him. I’m in the process now [of reading the first installment], Frank, and it is AMAZING! How do you say ‘Can’t put it down’ in browserese? Such beautiful prose, and so moving. I can’t wait for the rest.”

  2. Glad to see your site back up and running, Michael!

    I sent you a fourth installment on John Stewart a long time ago, but you never posted it.

    It’s a good one, too — all about the period between the breakup of The Kingston Trio and John’s formation of a duo with Buffy Ford.

    If you have time, I would appreciate seeing it posted on your incredible site.

    Frank

      1. I re-sent the fourth installment (which is really called “Chapter One” in my nomenclature) to you at your gmail address today, Michael.

        I hope it got to you, and I hope you and your readers enjoy it. It’s called “‘Twixt Trio and Solo: What Was It Really Like?”

        It covers the roughly year-and-a-half period (early 1967 to late 1968) between the breakup of The Kingston Trio and John and Buffy Ford recording and releasing SIGNALS THROUGH THE GLASS.

  3. From my good friend and former bandmate in our acoustic duo, The Dinosaurs (1996-2009), Doug Breckenridge:

    There aren’t a lot of people — even serious Folkies — who are
    familiar with the life and works of John Stewart. I confess that, until
    I spent a dozen-plus years as Frank Kresen’s bandmate and friend, I
    was among that number. But now, thanks to Frank’s elegantly
    impassioned (and deeply researched!) prose, music fans everywhere can
    get to know the significance of this great American songwriter. That’s
    a good thing!

  4. Well…. there’s probably more people like me that have every album that he ever made. I consider him one of the giants, even if very few people know of his great talent. I only got to see him play live once. It was 1988 in South Florida of all places. One night. Early and late shows, and I stayed for both. The night is still burned in my memory. So many great songs, and his gentle and kind spirit. I was so happy to meet him briefly afterwards, and tell him “thanks” for all the music. We miss you, John!

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