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Gordon Bok - A Tune for November

Hills of Isle au Haut
Liverpool Handy
Tune for November
Handsome Cabin Boy
Hills of Isle au Haut
Liverpool Handy
Lou's Handy
Queensland Overlanders
Saben the Woodfitter
Sier Lapalang
Song By Yupanqui
Traveling People
Tune for Bannard
Tune for November
Where Am I to Go

Our first recording of one of the nation's most respected singer/guitarists contains both original and traditional songs including Hills of Isle au Haut, Duna, Handsome Cabin Boy, Song by Yupanqui, Travelling People, Liverpool Handy, Where Am I to Go, Lowlands, Queensland Overlanders, Sier Lapalang, Tune for Bannard, Lou's Handy, Saben the Woodfitter, and the title song, A Tune for November.

Gordon Bok sings of the sea with the authority of a man who has been there, and he sings of life with the zest of a man who lives it as he chooses, and loves it His hands are those of a working seaman, broad and strong, but when they take hold of a guitar they move with incredible precision and sensitivity. Perhaps it takes hands like these to bend that big 12-string to his musical will, but they can also caress an intricate arrangement out of the hand-made classical guitar he often plays. His voice, as much at home on the deck of a ship as it is on the concert stage, has all the strength appropriate to the hard-driving songs of the sea, but it can also shade softly to the gentle warmth of a song of a man's love for a woman. Each of these is represented here. The several original songs which are included reflect his love for the rugged coast of Maine and for the people who make it their home.

Sandy Paton

Gordon Bok is very much his own man. There is no other folksinger anything like him. Whatever he sings is his and begets no comparisons. If that sounds like rather high praise, all I can say is that it is meant to be. No more enjoyable folksinger has come down the pike in years than Gordon Bok.

He is a self-taught guitarist, but unlike the ruck of self-taught guitarists he had something to teach himself — and he learned it. He is a competent classical guitarist, but it is in those marvelous pipe and fiddle tune adaptations that he really shines forth as an instrumentalist. He sings in a quiet, straight-forward bass that is both pleasant and authoritative, and his accompaniments form a sort of rich brocade that is the perfect setting for his voice. His own songs, the ones he has written himself, speak eloquently of the sea and the Maine coast. They are especially and uniquely his, and I cannot imagine them sung by anyone else. In addition, he sings traditional songs with great understanding and reverence. He is not "ethnic" in the sense that he tries to sing as though he were a farmer or a cowboy; neither is he an arranger or an adapter, a polisher-up. A song never becomes simply a vehicle for displaying his own brilliance. He meets the song openly, and they work together in a very happy way.

Put it this way: Gordon Bok is, fortunately, Gordon Bok. And that's good enough for me.

Sandy Ives University of Maine

Gordon Bok remains for me the best — the best singer, the best instrumentalist, the best song writer — in the realm of traditional music. The strength and richness of his voice bring majesty to any tune, however humble. His guitar playing fills out the strongest character with the simplest of strokes. And his songs — well, his songs pass what is for me the ultimate test — they sound as though they were never written. Instead, they have always existed and he is merely the first to sing them ' for us.

Gordon's performances reveal him to be a sailor. Each one is like the prow of a ship, which even on the calmest of seas leans forward, forever pressing its voyage. None of us can sign aboard his ship, but perhaps we can dare to set sail ourselves.

Ralph Earle
Cambridge, Massachusetts


Side 1, Band 1.
Isle au Haut is a high, mountainous island in the Gulf of Maine with a couple of villages on it. Mostly fish¬ermen there in the winter. Good people.

Away and to the westward
Is a -place a man should go,
Where the fishing's always easy;
They've got no ice or snow.

But I'll haul down the sail
Where the bays come together;
Bide away the days
On the hills of Isle au Haut.

Now, the Plymouth girls are fine,
They put their hearts in your hand;
And the Plymouth boys are able,
First-class sailor, every man.

Now, the trouble with old Martir,
You don't try her in a trawler,
For those Bay of Biscay swells
They roll your head from off your shoulder.

Away and to the westward
Is a place a man should go,
Where the fishing's always easy;
They 've got no ice or snow.

Now, the winters drive you crazy
And the fishing's hard and slow;
You're a damn fool if you stay,
But there's no better place to go.

(Another verse, not on the record, that Gordon generally sings:)

The girls of Cascais
They are strong across the shoulder.
They don't give a man advice;
They don't want to cook his supper.

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