John Winn

John Winn

 Grand Junction, Colorado, USA
BandFolkSinger/Songwriter

John Winn was at the heart of the folk music scene in New York City in the 1960s. His rich tenor voice and outstanding musicianship are noted by Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk in their biographies. His music reflects his life, including songs about folk music, western Colorado, and skiing.

Biography

Known as the minstrel-troubadour, John Winn's musical career has spanned six decades, starting with formal voice training in college, stints as a tenor with a municipal opera company in St. Louis, and as a coffeehouse singer in the early days of folk music in New York City. Winn traveled with the Belafonte Singers, performed on stages with Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, and Jose Feliciano, and performed at New Yorks Carnegie Hall with many of the early folk artists. He performed at folk venues such as the Gaslight, Gerdes Folk City, and Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, New York. He toured the country as a featured vocalist with the Karlsrud Chorale, and toured nationally with the Belafonte Singers. In the early 1960s, Winn performed at many of the early hootenany's including appearances in Carnegie Hall and Town Hall in New York City.

Musical friend and compatriot Judy Collins introduced Winn to her manager, Daniel Gordon, who was married to the folksinger Odetta. Gordon and Odetta encouraged him to go to New York where they booked him into Folk City. Winn moved to New York in 1960, just as the folk music scene was emerging on MacDougal Street in the Lower West Village. Bob Dylan soon arrived on the folk scene, playing in many of the same coffeehouses. Winn spent a lot of time talking with Dylan, including taking a memorable road trip with Bob to Ann Arbor, MI to perform in one of the early folk concerts.

His songs are filled with rich poetry that reflect on his life, his love of music, the rivers and canyons of the west, and the mountains and seacoasts of Maine. His songs and stories are written in the troubadour tradition of folk music.

John Winn currently has four CDs available. His most recent, Apple Pickin' Time, was released in the summer of 2008. His next CD, The Lonely Minstrel, is soon to be released in early 2009.

Lyrics

Mr. Politician Man

Written By: John Winn

I heard this politician on TV the other day
It was the same old jive in the same old way
The same old story but the words had changed
Same old bull but the meaning stays the same
He said please believe me cause I want your vote
I’ll give you smoke and mirrors and a little phony hope

I said to him, Mr. Politician man
There’s a whole lot lacking in your government plan
I heard the government was ‘sposed to answer to the people
Now we’re on the outside just a lookin’ through a peephole
When you got to Washington you got some brand new friends
And you started keeping secrets ‘bout the money that you spend

In this land of the brave and the home of the free
It seems your wheeler dealings got the better of me
You tell me that what’s good for me is pie up in the sky
Then you sell me an economy that’s just a pack of lies
‘Cause you get all that money and you keep more than your share
And you send the rest to Wall Street ‘cause you owe it over there

Now my portfolio is leaking and it feels mighty strange
It’s lost a lot of weight for a little bit of gain
You say 401K is the best for me
That’s a whole heap of hopin’ that the future will be
Better than the past, but I have to say
I might be better off if I had better pay

Now I don’t have a problem
With a little bit of wealth
But we’ve got too many greedies
And they’re harmful to my health
And if we ask them questions
They say just shut your mouth
And if you don’t pay your taxes
We will garnishee your house
It’s hard to get some answers to the questions that we ask
It’s just the same old movie with a different cast

Yeah, I don’t get any answers and I’ve only got one vote
And I’m tired of phony speeches that some other person wrote
The tele-prompter’s taken over for the President
Ain’t it funny how much green it takes to pay the White House rent
They say be good and go to church, don’t worry ‘bout the threats
Just barbecue your BLT and buy a new Corvette

Now the rich man’s got the money and the worker’s got the hands
The politician plays golf with his cronies and his friends
And I’m on the outside peekin’ over the fence
But the fence keeps getting’ higher and it’s making no sense
Instead of getting closer, we drift further apart
It’s got to get better or it’s gonna get hard

This country was founded on liberty
Created for the reason that we ought to be free
And not for concealing all these secrets from me
And sending phony messages they call democracy
The refuge of a scoundrel it can always be seen
When he hides behind the flag, waving patriotically

It’s time to find a way to get out of this bind
Instead of always wanting more, a little less is fine
Instead of guzzlin’ gasoline and pushing up the speed
Increasing road rage factors in our giant SUV’s
We need to give ourself just a little more slack
It’s time to slow this country down
Before it blows it’s stack

And when the polls are open it’s not time to close your mind
We only have one vote apiece, but that vote’s yours and mine
And don’t let them fool you with their phony TV ads
That only have one thing to say, the other guy is bad
Instead do some thinkin’ bout what did they really say
And stay away from phony games the politicians play

These may not be the answers ‘cause words are only words
And actions speak much louder than anything you’ve heard
So keep your hand on your wallet, do your votin’ with your ballot
‘Cause if you don’t use it, we might end up without it
It’s the best damn country that you ever will find
It don’t belong to politicians, this country’s yours and mine

And it won’t always be easy, like our fore-daddies said
If we ain’t livin’ free, we’d be better off dead
That’s a hard-edged solution to the problems that we have
And if I’ve got an option I’d rather die in bed
It’s time to seek new answers it’s time we all must start
‘Cause if we don’t hang together we’ll surely hang apart

Repeat first verse

Colorado River Song

Written By: John Winn

Dancing with the mountains
Racing with the wind
Playing in the sunshine
Falling from the sky again
River starts a runnin’
Running to the sea
Running down the canyon
Running wild and running free

Towering walls of red rock
Standing tall against the sky
Bearing down the sun shines hot
It burns the desert dry

And the Colorado River shakes its head
And wonders why
We steal its soul
We dam its tide

Chorus:
Dancing with the mountains
Racing with the wind
Playing in the sunshine
Falling from the sky again
Rivers starts a runnin’
Running to the sea
Running down the canyon
Running wild and running free

And while we worry ‘bout ourselves
Our selfish human pride
That gives no thought ‘bout what is lost
Until we’ve drained it dry

And it runs no longer to the sea
The salty flats and thirsty sands
Are all that’s left to be
An answer to the emptiness
Where precious water flowed
They’ve lost their way, we dammed its tide
We stole its soul

Repeat chorus

Naked

Written By: John Winn

As I stumble down this road of life
Naked in my skin
An elastic sack that stretches round
And keeps my insides in
Naked we’re born, naked we begin
Naked we’re born, naked we begin

Each day I dress my body
And I take it off to work
Sometimes in summer sunshine
I’m taking’ off my shirt
To feel the sun shining, naked on my skin

And I wonder why this life begins
And I wonder why and where
This life will end

The preacher tells us stories
Tales of Christ nailed to the cross
I have not seen Christ lately
Could it be that he is lost
Or has he gone, back to the stars

Naked he came to us
As a child god he exposed
The nakedness of sickly souls
The blindness that they showed
Unsighted by his flash of light
His strength and courage, in the night
They took him down

They found him in Gethsemane
They stripped his clothes
And nailed him to that tree
They found him in Gethsemane
They stripped him
And they nailed him that tree

Now seriously I wonder
What is humankind’s intent
To cover up our nakedness
With bills and paying rent
Is this God’s plan, written by His hand?

The details have eluded me
Perhaps the killing puzzles me
The one who has the biggest bombs will win
See how we treated Him
He spoke of love, He spoke of peace
Forgiveness was given free by Him
He spoke of love, He spoke of peace
Forgiveness was given free by Him

Sleepy Sunday mornings
Lying close and feeling warm
In the comfort of our loving
In the circle of your arms
Feeling’ skin to skin between us
Feel your breast against my chest
Again and again

We can cover up our nakedness
With satin, silks and more
From toe to toe and head to heart
To keep away the storm
Of what reality has given me
The only thing that makes us free
Is what we’re looking for

That loving you has made me see
That loving you is what I’m living for
This naked truth is telling me
That love is why I’m living one day more

As I stumble down this road of life
Naked in my skin
An elastic sack that stretches round
And keeps my insides in
Naked we’re born, naked we begin
Naked we’re born, naked at the end

Gettin' Old

Written By: John Winn

Gettin’ Old
© 5/27/2004
John R. Winn

My memory is inconsistent
I’m getting slower every day
My back is shot, my knees are sore
My hair is more than gray
These golden years are clinkers
Less like gold and more like lead
In 20 odd years, maybe more, maybe less
I’ll perfectly be dead

What was I talkin’ bout this mornin’
Who played this joke on my old head
Who pulled the plug on my hearing aid
Whose teeth are in the cup beside my bed

This getting’ old is not for sissies
The requirements are too tough
Every step I take feels like the road
Is gettin’ rather rough
Each pothole’s gettin’ deeper
The stairs are twice as steep
Every hill I climb takes a lot more time
Or so it seems to me

It’s an old gray mare that we’re ridin’
And my saddle sores ‘r getting’ sorer every day
And who’s that old person in the mirror
These bags and wrinkles must be here to stay

I didn’t volunteer for this mission
When I was young I never thought I’d get old
I never thought about these conditions
That make the winters twice as cold

I never thought when I was fishin’
Someone else might have to hold my pole
So I don’t waste time a’ wishin’
If it’s up or down I go

And when I reach the end of this journey
I will saddle up the old gray mare again
And we’ll ride on to the end of this story
And take another look around the bend

I never thought that I’d find perfection
I lost in love and I’ve loved again
And I distinctly lack ambition
Except for having lots of friends
Now I’m realizin’
This life’s the only game we play
And when I finally reach perfection
I’ll be perfectly dead that day

Snow on the Mountaintop

Written By: John Winn

Snow on the Mountaintop
© 10/20/81
John R. Winn

Chorus:
There’s snow on the mountaintop I know
But there’s fire in the furnace down below
Though many winter years have turned to silver in my hair
I still care, don’t you know gal
Though there’s snow on the mountaintop
There’s fire in the furnace
Fire in the furnace
Fire in the furnace down below

Sometimes I know you look at younger men
And I must admit I look at younger women now and then
And though I can appreciate their charms
They’ve got nothin’ they can give me
Like the warmth I feel within me
When you hold me soft and gentle in your arms

Repeat chorus

It didn’t take much time to learn to love you
And the way your eyes sparkle like the diamond skies above
And though it’s true I know we’re bound to change
When I think about the moments of closeness shared between us
Nothing seems to matter but today

Repeat chorus

It takes a lot of years to learn to give
And accept the gift of life that has been given us to live
To know that there’s no other time and how we must live this very minute
And accept the truth that’s in it
This is life and we must live it here and now

Repeat chorus

Second ending:

There’s snow on the mountaintop I know
But there’s fire in the furnace down below
Though many winter years have turned to silver in my hair
I still care, don’t you know gal
Though there’s snow on the mountaintop
There’s fire in the furnace
Fire in the furnace
It’s still hot enough to burn us
There’s still fire in the furnace down below

Discography

Canyon Wind, CD released September 13, 2006

Canyon Wind can be purchased online at:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/johnwinn

Wild Stallion, CD released January 31, 2006

Available at:
http://www.cdbaby.com/johnwinn2

Colorado Mountain Song, released September 7, 2007
Available at:
http://www.cdbaby.com/johnwinn3

Apple Pickin' Time, released summer, 2008.

Available at:
http://www.cdbaby.com/johnwinn4

Set List

Sets are typically 50 minutes long.
Performs all original folk music, no covers.
Song list:

For the Love of the Music
Skiing Song
Mr. Politician Man
Canyon Wind
Questions
Summer Clouds
Colorado River Song
Driftin' Gypsy Johnny
Words
Naked
Troubadour Song
Song for an Old Guitar
Gettin' Old
Wild Stallion
Old Songbirds Love to Sing
Coffee Song
Moldy Old Folkie
Snow on the Mountaintop
Mother Earth
Old Folk Singer
Sailing Ships
Lover and a Friend
Apple Pickin' Time
Life Without Her Love
The Old Cookstove
Widow's Walk
Why do I Feel the Way that I Do?
Justin
Sweet Colleen