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September 1st, 1969: Karen Dalton has finally released her debut album: Listen

Read the press release from Capitol records along with a Q&A with Dalton

Karen Dalton has finally released her debut album: Listen

The events we write about at Gaslight Records happened in some form or another 50 years ago to the day. Roll along with us and imagine you are back in 1969.

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September 1st, 1969: Thirty-two-year-old Karen Dalton has released her first full-length LP, It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best.

Up until this point, all we have heard from Dalton is a series of home recordings. Apparently, she hates recording so much that she was essentially tricked into recording this album.

Here is a recent Q&A with Karen Dalton.

ON FRED NEIL – "Fred Neil is like a cowboy. Only when you think about him you would see him petting the cows. He's in Florida trying to teach dolphins to talk, or rather, trying to teach them to speak English."

ON TIM HARDIN – "We used to sing together a lot in Colorado. When he left my house, I was never sure whether I would ever see him again. He's such a terrible driver, he had an accident about once a week."

ON RICHIE HAVENS – "Richie Havens is an old friend. He loves Fred Neil and Tim Hardin songs. His style is what happens when a soul singer gets ahold of that kind of material."

ON BEING ALONE – "I like being alone. If you don't like solitude then Colorado will drive you nuts. You can go for days without seeing anyone, when you don't go out and nobody drops by. I like that."

ON RETURNING TO NEW YORK – "I decided to go to New York last year because I figured that if I stayed in Colorado any longer people would be callin' me "Widder Dalton" and I'd never get out. I wanted to do the album a lot. I waited a long time to do it."

ON HER FIRST ALBUM – "The album took three days, three separate sessions. We knew what we wanted and we went in and did them. I like it a lot and Nick Venet is a great producer. I'm happy with it. It shows how well I play the guitar."

ON PERFORMING AND RECORDING – "I don't think the ultimate musical trip is performing for an audience. You do good sets and you do bad sets. Recording is the trip. A finished record bears about as much resemblance to the group as live performers, as a finished movie does to the action it is shooting. It is in the editing and overdubbing and balancing and mastering the tracks that the record is made. The recording is the most important thing."

ON HOBBIES – "The only other thing I do well besides play music is ride horses. I am really good at riding. When I was in Colorado I used to take care of thoroughbred horses; I loved it but you had to get up at six in the morning and feed them and they were always being sick and having babies and they took so much time there wasn't time left for music, so I had to quit."

ON WHAT SHE LIKES – "I like jazz. And Ray Charles. And those two spades that really sound like cowboys – Leadbelly and Chuck Berry."

ON HER MOTHER – "She's a better singer than Billie Holiday. She's an evangelist. She goes to revivals. I go to love ins."

ON RECEIVING FLOWERS – "How nice...The only time I ever got flowers before was when I was sick. And when I was married – which is a form of sickness."

Karen Dalton has finally released her debut album: Listen

Capitol Press Release:

ALL KAREN DALTON has to do to create her own legend is sing. When she does, in a voice that belongs to no specific time but rather to all time, you're going to wonder where she's been all your life. She's been around.

Fred Neil, already a legend in his own right, has called her "the greatest female singer I've ever heard." Tim Hardin puts it simply: "She's an incredible broad." That makes Karen legendary even if you haven't yet heard her.

Born in Texas more years ago than befits the normal pop star, Karen grew up in Oklahoma, left home to sing in Kansas City and San Francisco and became the fourth member of a singing-songwriting pack whose other members were Hardin, Neil and Dino Valente.

Individually and collectively, they peddled their wares to an uninterested music industry during the legendary pre-'60s folk era, and starved with fellow musicians Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, John Sebastian and others.

The way Karen tells it. she played every coffee house in the Village and when she first met Dylan, he was only 17 and couldn't play in some of the clubs she worked without lying about his age.

Karen even formed a group called The Trio which featured Hardin on guitar but broke up when Karen married bassist Richard Tucker, the third member of The Trio.

New York City was the marketplace where you could see the greatest things happen, if you could stand to hang around that long. Karen couldn't, so she and Richard moved to Boulder, Colorado, gigged locally, and gradually became the social center of a hip community which included Hardin (again), singer Judy Roderick and film-maker Stan Brakhage. Back in New York, they forgot Karen "Just because I disappeared." What really happened was that it was great living in the mountains and even though the living was poor, everything was groovy. Not all of it. Richard had to trim trees to make a living. And Karen found herself working as a maid for $1.25 an hour; part of the time it was for people in their homes, part of the time for a fraternity. "You think it's temporary and... suddenly... It's your life."

Then Neil, who had spoken of her to Capitol producer Nick Venet, found her in Boulder and asked her to audition for Venet in New York. Eight bars of Neil's 'A Little Bit of Rain' led to a recording contract and eventually to a gig as featured singer in Danny Kalb's then-new group. Kalb's other commitments prevented Karen from continuing with him and she decided to go it alone.

With her talent, it shouldn't be hard.

The voice reminds you a little of Billie Holiday, soft and vulnerable on the inside, hard as nails and sharp as barbed wire on the outside. And she sings the blues bluer then anyone else around.

Karen Dalton has finally released her debut album: Listen
It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best

It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best is available to stream via Spotify and Apple Music below.

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