Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Eric Andersen has maintained a career as a folk-based singer/songwriter since the 1960s. In contrast to such peers as Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs, Andersen's writing has had a romantic/philosophical/poetic bent for the most part, rather than a socially conscious one, though one of his best-known songs, "Thirsty Boots," has as its background the Freedom Rides of the early '60s. (The song has been recorded by Judy Collins and others.)
After emerging from the Northeast folk-club circuit, Andersen began to record in 1965 with Today Is the Highway. His second album, 'Bout Changes & Things, contained some of his most accomplished writing, including the highly poetic "Violets of Dawn," "Thirsty Boots," and "I Shall Go Unbounded." All were sung in Andersen's flexible tenor (he shaded toward a baritone later), backed by rapid, intricate fingerpicking. In the late '60s and early '70s, Andersen experimented with country, pop, and rock music, settling on an amalgamation by the time of his masterpiece Blue River in 1972. This was also his most commercially successful album, but Andersen, like friends Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt, was always too serious-minded for the mainstream. In the '70s and '80s, he recorded sporadically while playing folk clubs around the U.S. and especially in Europe, where he took up residence. His later material, including 1989's Ghosts Upon the Road, recalls his work in the '60s as it ruefully reflects on that decade. The '90s saw Andersen collaborate with friends like Rick Danko and Jonas Fjeld on Danko/Fjeld/Andersen, as well as release a solo album, 1998's Memory of the Future; Andersen also oversaw the release of Stages: The Lost Album as well as a 1999 reissue of Blue River. You Can't Relive the Past followed early the next year. Beat Avenue from 2003 was an ambitious double CD while 2004's The Street Was Always There was a nostalgic look back at the music of the New York Greenwich Village scene of the early to mid-'60s. Waves from 2005 was another album of covers, but with broader material. Anderson released Blue Rain in May 2007.