Today Is The Highway
Release Date: June 3rd, 1965
Words by: Peter Stone Brown
September 22nd, 2015
I’d already seen Eric Andersen play quite a few times, usually at Sunday afternoon “Broadside Hoots” at New York City’s Village Gate, when his debut album finally appeared on Vanguard Records -- a label known for taking its time getting records to the public. Andersen had been introduced in 1964, on a sampler album, New Folks Vol. 2. The album featured four new singers, including Phil Ochs, who would end up recording for Vanguard’s main competitor at the time, Elektra. Two songs from New Folks Vol. 2, (“Come To My Bedside” and “Dusty Box Car Wall”), were also included on Today Is The Highway.
It could be said that Eric Andersen was the first of the “new Dylans”. He played guitar and harmonica, his lyrics were poetic and the title track's melody was reminiscent of Dylan’s “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”. Andersen’s singing style, however, was much gentler, sweeter, and his performances less frenzied. Andersen also finger-picked the majority of his songs.
Back then, there seemed to be requisite themes for folk albums: a love song, a ramblin’/train song, a song about the land, a tribute song -- and this album has all of them. Andersen’s specialty, however, was personal romantic ballads such as “Come To My Bedside”, “Everything Ain’t Been Said” and “Time For My Returning”. He had a way of singing these really high notes at key moments that would just get inside you.
In 1965, this album stayed on the turntable for a long time. Fifty years later, “Come To My Bedside” and “Everything Ain’t Been Said” still hold up. For Andersen, the best songs were yet to come, and it wouldn’t be long before they did.