Name a folk great. Dylan? Baez? Havens? Odetta? Bruce Langhorne played with them all. He is particularly remembered for his work with Dylan, who was inspired to write “Mr. Tambourine Man” after seeing Langhorne come into the studio with a large Turkish tambourine.
Langhorne was crucial to the sound that launched Dylan’s career. Playing his 1920 Martin guitar through a Fender Reverb amp with the aid of a pickup – and emulating the Roebuck “Pop” Staples tremolo style – he built a bridge between folk and rock. He had a unique style, influenced in part by the loss of two fingers and most of a thumb due to a childhood accident.*
In addition to his session work, Langhorne composed scores for films, including Peter Fonda’s 1971 The Hired Hand. A moving video of Peter Fonda visiting the ailing Langhorne late last year is on YouTube.
Here are 5 songs (plus “Mr. Tambourine Man”) featuring the acoustic and electric guitar work of Bruce Langhorne:
Carolyn Hester “I’ll Fly Away” (with Bob Dylan on harmonica)
Odetta “Anthem of the Rainbows”
Joan Baez “Farewell Angelina”
Tom Rush “You Can’t Tell A Book By The Cover”
Richard and Mimi Fariña “Reno, Nevada”
Bruce Langhorne, May 11, 1938-April 14, 2017
*LGMR recently profiled jazz pianist Horace Parlan, another musician who turned a disability into distinctive sound.
Follow the LGMR Folk 2017 playlist here.