Bruce Langhorne – The Hired Hand OST


Reading this site last week, I came across Seb’s appraisal of John Fahey (be sure to check out his “Transfiguration Of Blind Joe Death” set) and I was reminded of the great album that is “The Hired Hand” by Bruce Langhorne. It was a soundtrack scored for a lost 1971 film written and directed by Peter Fonda (ne Captain America himself) and it is a skeletal work of finger-picking beauty that anyone with a penchant for introspective acoustics should explore. Rustic in his approach, Langhorne delivers a great late night listen of spooked country folk which gets better with each approach.

Only upon doing a little research tonight on this album, which I’ve been enjoying for the past six months or so, did I come to realise what a huge part in modern popular music this unasuming black guitarist holds.

Here’s a little background on the man, taken from the bio written by the popular chronicler of the LA music scene, Richie Untenberger…

“Bruce Langhorne was one of the most important session guitarists of the 1960s, particularly in the early years of folk-rock. He is most famous for playing on some of Bob Dylan’s records, particularly 1965’s Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan’s transitional release from folk to folk-rock. However, he actually played with numerous musicians making the change from folk to folk-rock in the second half of the 1960s, including Tom Rush, Richard & Mimi Fariña, Richie Havens, Gordon Lightfoot, Eric Andersen, Fred Neil, Joan Baez, and Buffy Sainte-Marie. He also played on some other instruments; performed live with Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, the Fariñas, and others; and produced Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. He has also done soundtrack work, including scoring Peter Fonda’s The Hired Hand.”

Langhorne’s biggest fame comes from just a few days of sessions in early 1965, for Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home album. Langhorne is heard throughout that LP, coming especially to the fore on “She Belongs to Me,” “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.” As spelled out in the liner notes to Dylan’s box set Biograph, Langhorne is Mr. Tambourine Man. In the track commentary, Dylan is quoted as follows: “‘Mr. Tambourine Man,” I think, was inspired by Bruce Langhorne. Bruce was playing guitar with me on a bunch of the early records. On one session, (producer) Tom Wilson had asked him to play tambourine. And he had this gigantic tambourine. It was like, really big. It was as big as a wagon-wheel. He was playing, and this vision of him playing this tambourine just stuck in my mind. He was one of those characters…he was like that. I don’t know if I’ve ever told him that.”

No small shakes there, then. And all this time, here I was thinking that the bearded hick on the cd’s cover was the folky creating these gorgeous miniatures and repeated motifs within, when in fact, the whole time it was this amazing black man with a pedigree in music that cannot be sneezed at. The beardy on the cover is of course, an image of Peter Fonda taken from the film. D’oh.

To check out the sounds within, go here to the awesome Aquarius Records site and check out the three track snippets on offer. Alternatively, you can check out Brucie’s homepage and maybe purchase some of his “Brother Bru-Bru’s Africa Hot Sauce”


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