Eric Andersen, Blue River

It was shortly after 9/11 when I happened upon a live performance by Eric Andersen at a small theatre in Toronto. I was on a business trip and overdressed for the occasion. Andersen was sitting at a table after his tight show, selling and signing CDs. I was last in line to meet him. “I came all the way in from Arizona just to see you,” I said. He looked at me as if I was sent to murder him. “Please tell me you didn’t,” he said. I laughed. “I’m a big fan,” I said. This didn’t seem to ease the tension as he quickly scribbled his signature on my CD and scuffled away. I’ve always considered this exchange telling because Andersen wasn’t at all famous. He just seemed like a paranoid New Yorker who had experienced some rough times and lived to sing about them. This understated folk album encapsulates to me the sound of 1960s Greenwich Village coffeehouses. This and Dave Van Ronk’s “Sunday Street” are at least how I imagine it. It makes me wish I was part of the scene.

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