For a brief moment in the mid 60’s some people thought, what with the current british rock'n'roll boom starring the beatles and the stones as joint headline acts, that the folk singer-songwriter scene was next in line for world domination. Many of the leading folk scenestars looked up to Jackson C Frank as one of their best performers. He had recently arrived from New York, funded by an $100,500 insurance payout from a school fire that left his body covered with burns and scars when he was 11 years old (he was lucky! 18 of his classmates died). He was introduced to Paul Simon who asked to record his debut album (pictured) which was a triumph. Things couldn’t get better,he was driving round town in his Aston Martin - without the bumper sticker that read “my other car is an Bently” (even though it was), but due to the sudden pressures of stardom he developed severe stage-fright (he had recorded all the songs on his debut album in three hours, hidden from view behind studio sound screens). When the money eventually ran out in ’66 he had become seized with writers bloc and he left a half recorded follow up and headed back to Woodstock.
By ’67 Led Zeppelin and the Who were igniting audiences with the pleasures of electric rock music and the ambitions of the acoustic folk movement fell on deaf ears as even Dylan “sold out” by plugging in his Stratocaster!
However, more profound disasters followed JCF in Woodstock, including divorce, the death of an infant son, and alleged schizophrenia (which Jackson claimed was post traumatic stress).
Blues Run The Game seems to hint at what lay in store with the repeating refrain… “wherever I have gone, the blues have run the game”. At one point he says that “somewhere down the line, I’ll wake up older, and I’ll just stop all my trying”. He ended up homeless on the streets of New York.
He wrote this track on the crossing from America before his glory days, but listening in retrospect to his wavering voice accompanied by only his gently picking style it sounds chilling.
Read his story in his own words…
Read his story in his friends words…
Read liner notes by the artist for 1978 re-release
(click >here to buy Jackson C. Frank from amazon)