Jackson C. Frank - Blues Run the Game

Posted by Miss Ess, December 28, 2007 04:42pm | Post a Comment
Jackson C. Frank has one of the more sad stories in music history.

The good news is the music he created is fantastic.

He was a part of the folk music scene in the early/mid 60s.  He only released one full length album in1965, which is self titled and beautiful.  It's a melancholy collection of songs, but it's one of my favorite records.  Frank's voice is strong and deep.  I feel like it brings a lot of emotion to the songs he sings.  I like the fact also that the songs sound a little faraway, like the equipment they were recorded on was old and on the brink of death.  Oh yeah, and it was produced with said eloquence by Paul Simon-- yeah, the Paul Simon.

Although he was American, Frank was thick in the scene of musicians in London in the mid 60s, and that's also where Paul Simon happened to be.  Frank was also friends with Sandy Denny, even dated her for a while, Bert Jansch, who covered "Blues Run the Game," Al Stewart and more.  Nick Drake also covered several of his songs and Roy Harper is said to have written a song about him.

Frank was able to pay for his initial boat ride to England due to a long-awaited insurance check--  when he was 11, while he was in music class, his school caught fire and he was one of the injured students, with bad burns covering much of his body.   Ten years later and with that check in hand, he lived the high life in England for a while, arriving at just the moment when folk and music in general was really taking off in swinging London.

You can actually see his right hand has been burned in this pic if you look closely. 

Eventually he came back to the States, where he continued to wallow in obscurity for decades, dealing with the death of a child, and living on and off the streets and in and out of institutions for the rest of his life.   He seems to have suffered many more misfortunes than most throughout his life. He died in 1999.

He lives in the folk section here at Amoeba, and there's a good reissue version of Jackson C. Frank with bonus tracks.  Good music for a freezing cold rainy day, like today!

Here's a video where you can hear (but not see!) Bert Jansch playing "Blues Run the Game" -- it's a perfect song.

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