Jay Linden

Jay Linden

 Cambridge, Ontario, CAN
BandFolkSinger/Songwriter

Based an hour west of Toronto, Canada, Jay Linden is a semi-reclusive legend who's been making music for 40+ years. He writes and sings haunting, memorable slices of time and space firmly rooted in a folk sensibility. His debut CD "Satchel" came in 2006; "Under The Radar" is new in October 2009!

Biography

"Under the radar" -- doing something undetected. Sometimes this phrase is used to mean "getting away with something", as in doing something nefarious without getting caught. Sometimes it just means doing something and not getting noticed.

Jay Linden has been making music, all-told, for over 45 years, since he was a pre-teen. He plays dozens of instruments, and has written dozens and knows and plays thousands of songs. But mostly, he remains a pretty well guarded secret outside of the people in the communities where he's lived.

He's unabashedly acoustic, unabashedly folk rooted. His musical trail comes up from Woody, Pete, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, through Dylan, Johnny Cash and the 50s folk scare and through contemporaries like Townes, Willie P, Dolly Parton, Dave Carter and more. He writes and sings memorable folk songs and plays a lot of fretted and stringy things, flutes, hand drums, and novelty instruments, some more novel than others.

Back in the '70s, Jay was an up-and-coming folkie. A decent songwriter and a good guitar player who shared stages and backstages with many of Canada's finest -- Jay hates to drop names (and usually won’t do so even if you ask), but he will admit to some interesting acquaintances:

"Stan Rogers used to call me by name when he wanted me to move out of his way. Adam Mitchell used to chide me for making an occasional mistake when I sang his songs. I spent two years as the guitar player Jack Schechtman (then a Toronto-based singer/songwriter and now a working rabbi in California). I have sung high falsetto harmony notes I can no longer hit onstage with Willie P. Bennett. I have driven around town with such luminaries as Tom Rush, Livingston Taylor and John Allan Cameron. I have eaten dinner with All Three Members of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings. At the same time. Their treat. I've known Paul Mills since before Trevor Mills was born. Leon Redbone has played my guitar -- while I was holding it. Steve Goodman played it onstage at Mariposa one year. I knew Grit Laskin before he started making guitars (and have one of his very earliest ones.) And I know Bob Dylan's first name."

Then, more suddenly than it started, Jay took the 80s and 90s off, writing no songs and rarely even picking up a guitar. A reformed smoker who quit a 35-year habit 8 1/2 years ago, Jay's figured out that he started making music again "for something to do with my hands". And started writing songs again. Memorable ones, this time.

The new album, "Under The Radar" is again filled with road miles and timelessness. Jay's songs are slices of universe with mature, universal themes, impeccable lyrics, simple yet elegant melodies ... poignancy without too much pathos ... they float in time and space like a Monet painting and a Douglas Adams story. Complementing his own songs are five covers -- new ones played in old ways, and old ones played in new ways. And all-told, in addition to guitar, Jay plays harmonica, banjo, cumbus saz, tambura, harmonium, backwards lowered bass Jew's harp, Maui Xaphoon pocket saxophone, bass kazoo, and yes, a little nose flute.

Sorry, still no cuatro.

Like the first album "Satchel", the production remains sparse and folksy. Recorded in Jay's living room, produced, mixed and mastered by Colin Linden. Colin plays some guitar, dobro, mandolin, bass, etc. Yes, they're related, a little. Stand-out bass from Chris Donahue, the stuff played with a bow, recorded in Nashville.

Nine songs by Jay, plus:

* a cumbus saz version of Townes Van Zandt's "Snake Song"
* a banjo version of Lowell George's "20 Million Things"
* a tambura/harmonium version of Willie P. Bennett's "One Vessel"
* Willie's previously unrecorded "What's The Matter With You"
* and the bonus track, "That Lucky Old Sun" by Haven Gillespie & Beasley Smith, a very old jazz/pop standard that Jay has loved since almost it was new. Jay needs to use all three of his guitar chords for this one!

The 2006 album "Satchel" spent three months among the top radio played Canadian folk albums in both Canada and the US. And "Under The Radar"? One hopes!

45-plus years of road wear and miles and music. In short, Jay Linden must be one of the world's most slowly emerging talents. Truly, under the radar.

Lyrics

August Night

Written By: Jay Linden

August Night (May 15, 2004)

He's walkin' down the street
Pockets jingling & he's looking down at his feet
Blind to all of the illusion and deceit -- it's an August night

And he keeps to the side --
Walks alone as though he had some ghosts to hide
You'd never know that he was hopin' for a ride -- it's an August night

And he's flyin' high -- same old blues reaching up in the sky
Keeps on moving and he never wonders why -- never says goodbye

Now the people passing by --
Barely notice him, they never look him in the eye
They never notice when the demons make him cry -- it's an August night

And there's a soft evening chill --
Makes you shiver when you've got some time to kill
Keep to the sidewalk or there's someone else who will -- turn your world tonight

And he's flyin' high -- same old blues reaching up in the sky
Keeps on moving and he never wonders why -- never says goodbye

And the time runs fast and slow --
When you're looking for the things you need to know
You settle in just before it's time to go -- into the August night

There's a wind in the leaves --
Won't be long before they're falling in the breeze
Won't be long before the ground begins to freeze -- and the birds take flight

And he's flyin' high -- same old blues reaching up in the sky
Keeps on moving and he never wonders why -- never says goodbye

And he's flyin' high -- same old blues reaching up in the sky
Keeps on losing and he never asks 'em why -- never says goodbye

Say goodbye...

He's walkin' down the street
Pockets jingling & he's looking down at his feet
Blind to all of the illusion and deceit -- it's an August night
It's an August night -- It's an August night

Something Better To Believe (Icarus' Fall)

Written By: Jay Linden

The closer that you come to feeling that you're home
The harder it becomes to find your doorstep
Back when I was young, I set out on my own
Walked the path 'til I could take no more step

Young and full of dreams -- hopes & plans & schemes
Crossing all the streams to reach the mountain
Westward to the sea, northbound to the sky
I could fly -- soaring smooth, soaring high
As I looked for something better to believe

And the years, they rolled away, took my time to stay
Left a chill so cold & numb I scarcely felt it
And the wings that held me high, and bore me on the sky
Came too close to the sun and slowly melted

I landed in a field, wondering where I was,
Looked around to see where I was going
But nothing looked familiar on the ground...
Lost my way, lost my stream, you know I almost lost my dream
As I looked for something better to believe

And so the boy who ran away -- said he might be back someday
He walks the streets and seeks familiar places
All the signs are still the same, but everything has changed
Finds comfort in the stares on strangers' faces

The years may come and go, fast or maybe slow
And you might find a place where you can stay
And all the dreams you dream might fly away...
Lost my way, lost my stream, you know I almost lost my dream
As I looked for something better to believe

The closer that you come to feeling that you're home
The harder it becomes to find your doorstep

Blue Skies Of September

Written By: Jay Linden

Blue Skies Of September

I went down to the valley yesterday
The sun was bright and the fields were high
Took my time as I passed along the way
And walked alone beneath the blue skies of September

There's a road -- headed westward to the sea
It takes its toll on your youth and time
It's like a book -- and it brings you back to me
To walk in dreams among the blue skies of September

And hey, I'm -- just waiting soft & slow
Wondering what the day will bring and where I'm gonna go
And hey, I'm -- just walking in the wind
Waiting for the skies to bring the changing season in

Time -- she's a drifter passing by
She is my friend, though she sometimes makes me cry
And we'll go on, 'til she leaves me by and by
To walk alone among the blue skies of September

And hey, I'm -- just waiting soft & slow
Wondering what the day will bring and where I'm gonna go
And hey, I'm -- just walking in the wind
Waiting for the skies to bring the changing season in

So let me fly like an eagle on the breeze
Let me soar high above the golden grain
And give me strength -- from the valley to the seas
To float along among the blue skies of September
To float along among the blue skies of September

Train

Written By: Jay Linden

Train
Jay Linden Oct 13/06

I'm goin' down to the station -- waiting around for the train
I'm goin' down to the station -- waiting around for the train
There's a chill in the air, an omen in the sky,
And I'm soaked to the bone in the rain ...
I'm goin' down to the station -- waiting around for the train

Sometimes I get to wonderin' -- what makes a man carry on
Sometimes I get to wonderin' -- what makes a man carry on
When the work's all done, the time's running short,
And the reasons for staying are gone
Sometimes I get to wonderin' -- what makes a man carry on

Oh train, train -- why do you sing so low
Oh train -- why do you sing so low
There's a dark cloud hanging in the afternoon light
And if the rain don't get you, then the loneliness might
Oh train, train -- why do you sing so low

I'm goin' down to the station -- waiting around for the train
I'm goin' down to the station -- waiting around for the train
There's a chill in the air, an omen in the sky,
And I'm soaked to the bone in the rain ...
I'm goin' down to the station -- waiting around for the train

I Will Be Home

Written By: Jay Linden

I Will Be Home
Jay Linden Oct 14/06

There's a still life on the highway
Open road, and I'm on my own
Cold wind whistles through the windshield
I will be home

Seems I've been on this road forever
The only life that I have known
Starlight twinkles in the western sky
I will be home

Keep my eyes upon the broken line
Half asleep and all alone
There's a porch light in the distance
I will be home
I will be home
I will be home

Discography

Satchel (debut CD, 2006)
Self-distributed; contact me to purchase or go to http://jaylinden.com/buy_the_cd/ to use PayPal for Canadian purchase or http://cdbaby.com/linden for US/global purchase.

2009 -- "Under The Radar"; distribution being organized through the same channels. If it's not in place yet when you want the album, contact me!

Set List

Jay writes songs at sometimes a blinding pace. Sets will include songs from his albums Under The Radar and Satchel, other songs he has written, and he loves doing covers of songs by everyone from the Carter Family, Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt to John Prine, Dave Carter and Joni Mitchell. Sets are usually arranged at time of performance or ad-libbed.