If you would like to know what some others think of my new CD, this is the place. You can return to the CD page by clicking here:
“…I just heard Golden Apples and I particularly love the part of the lyric “and in the time, between the time, between the time, between the time, the gypsy sings again”. Beautiful song, my brother. Bravo.”
"What a fine album! So front and center. Really close to the vest, beautifully produced. I enjoyed taking the ride. "
'...I bet I've played your CD 15-20 times, and it gets better with every listen. No, not better -- more personal. I loved it all as a listener the first time through, but as a human being with a heart it has now become my go-to recording. Your songs are written from personal experience and personal genius. Your music is written from knowledge and ability...I know that you wrote and recorded this just for me. That's what I feel on every listen.'
“…If you are a fan of folk music, just do yourself a favor and buy a copy. It’s fantastic from beginning to end….after hearing it, I think you’ll know the man behind these songs. The detail, the arrangements, the musicians, all top-notch…”
“…I put your CD into my car player and had a great listen as I drove up from Laguna Beach late at night. Then I played it through a second time! It was mesmerizing! Great job! Great songs! …”
"...There's so much I love about Art Podell's CD, (A Songwriter's Journey, "From the Village to the Canyon,") but I haven't got all day. I'm compelled to at least put something on record that expresses the joy I feel when I listen to this CD in my car. It relaxes me and I find I can genuinely listen to each word. It shuts out the noise in my mind. It's a natural elixir. What a treat! To be relaxed in LA traffic!
A word about the packaging -- I like the way Art has comments about each song written on the back of the CD... where the songs are actually listed. You can be listening in your car and (when you stop at a light, of course,) you can just pick up the CD case and it's right there on the back, instead of having to get out the liner notes and search for information.
The CD starts so strong with "Golden Apples," and the memorable refrain: "... and in the time between the time between the time between the time..." That luscious melody will get in your ear and haunt you for days. From then on, Art takes you on a journey through the folk music craze of the 60's up to now, told in colorful, filmic pictures.
Besides "Golden Apples," my favorite song on Art Podell's CD is "We Sang Our Songs in California." It really reminds me of the folk music I grew up with. Oh! And I must mention "But Then You Smile." We see here how love truly conquers all, and in such a simple, universal tale. Art's writing is both poetic and... well, just clear. A rare treat.
Art's guitar playing is clean and gentle. You can tell that Art Podell is indeed a gentleman. All the songs on here are magnificent. The writing, the singing, the playing. The production (Randy Tobin) is superb. I'm sure it's a true representation of how Art Podell sounds in person. All of the players are top notch. Especially the cello player, Jeness Johnson on Golden Apples. Wow!
Art Podell's CD "A Songwriter's Journey" gets my Five Stars!
“Your live performances are a great lesson to other performers as far as patience and respect of “the song” in front of an audience. There’s a beautiful flow amongst the songs as you play and every word you sang sounded like you were having a real conversation with us (the listeners). Proud to be a part of your music!”
"…It was a very emotional time. Maybe that set me up to be taken to another place when I opened my mail and found your CD. Tonight, having been in my home here in the Berkshires, in Western Mass for only several hours, I was treated to a musical storybook so full of feelings and images that I had to listen to all the tunes 3 times before I was able to put words together and write to you. What a gift you are. I'm sorry I have never known you or your music. I'm just blown away. You have a French thing going, a New York cabaret thing, an American folk raw honesty thing of course. Just really really wonderful. I guess my favorites are "But Then You Smile", The Highway", "Toni's Poem" (Laurel Canyon), and "time and The River", but "She came Back" is a killer piece of comedy material and you do it great! "We Sang Our Songs In California" is wonderful too. Gary told me about this lyric months ago, and I liked it, but didn't see how it could work into a song. You made it great.
Anyway, I'm a new fan. You are Amazing. I'd love to hear you do these in an intimate coffee house over a glass of wine.
You inspire me to dig deeper. Yeah Art."
"Contemporary folk music has never really gone away. It's been happening in living rooms, coffeehouses, college campuses and concerts since the late 1940s, released by small record labels and sometimes very large ones (and sometimes none at all). Every once in a while, it breaks into the mainstream, as it did most recently with the success of Mumford & Sons and the The Civil Wars, both of whom have enjoyed worldwide exposure and record sales and taken home numerous awards including a Grammy for Best Folk Album (for the Wars' Barton Hollow album).
In 1958, it would have been difficult to win a Grammy for Best Folk Album (or best folk anything) because there was no folk music category in the awards program. It was the phenomenal popularity of San Francisco's Kingston Trio, whose 1958 single, "Tom Dooley," sold 3 million copies for Capitol Records, that is credited with rocketing folk music into the commercial mainstream, causing other record companies' execs to sit up, take notice and start signing a lot of folk music groups.
Art Podell was a Greenwich Village folk singer in 1958. In the rush to capitalize on the folk boom, Columbia Records signed Podell and partner Paul Potash and, as the duo "Art & Paul," they released two albums in 1960 and '61, which are sought-after today by folk music aficionados.
The boom continued booming and Art & Paul headed west, where the action was. Though the duo did not survive in Los Angeles, Podell joined what was to become one of the biggest folk music troupes of the era.
The New Christy Minstrels were a ready-made group of 10 singers and players who performed pepped-up renditions of traditional folk numbers in their matching suits (most conspicuously for 26 consecutive Thursday nights on the 1962-63 season of "The Andy Williams Show"). Their 1962 debut album remained in the Billboard charts for two years and earned the group a Grammy for Best Performance by a Chorus. The folk life was good.
Though the Minstrels are known for their ever-shifting roster of members (which included, at one time or another, Barry "Eve of Destruction" McGuire, Kenny Rogers, Kim Carnes, and the aforementioned Paul Potash), Podell remained steady with the group from the beginning through to the peak and down the other side, when the times changed and the boom stopped booming.
The shift in folk music, toward protest and social conscience, had something to do with decline of "pop folk" groups like the Minstrels. So did "Sergeant Pepper's boys," as Podel acknowledges in the song "Toni's Poem (Laurel Canyon)." He exited the group in the mid-sixties.
Podell may not have been very active in music in the intervening years but From the Village to the Canyon is proof that there is no such thing as a former gypsy; Podell's gypsy heart beats strongly throughout these songs; he enchants with his whispery rasp and references to "Ms. Simone," Carole King and "a murder."
The "village" is represented by the uptempo folk and country of "Song for Dink," "We Sang Our Songs in California" and "She Came Back" while much of the balance has the singer-songwriter feel often associated with "the canyon." (That's Laurel Canyon, a neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles which was home to many singer-songwriters, rock musicians, etc. in the 1960s and '70s.)
Podell's musical pallette covers a good range, from the gentle picking and solo vocal of "But Then You Smile" to the banjo and foot stomp of "Dink" to the darkness and mystery of "Time and the River" and "Golden Apples" (the latter of which, with its cello and piquant dissonance, sounds like it could have been on side one of Love's Forever Changes, sans that album's psychedelic eeriness).
From the Village to the Canyon is a love letter to the people and places (and a dog) of Podell's life, both musical and otherwise, written in the intimate language that exists between people who have a shared history, but it is also the yellow-lit windows of a home with an open door, welcoming you, wayfaring stranger, out of the cold, in to the gathering and reminding you of what's important.