Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Timothy James Hardin (23 December 1941 – 29 December 1980) was an American folk musician and composer. He is best remembered for writing the top 40 hits "If I Were a Carpenter" covered by Bobby Darin and "Reason to Believe" covered by Rod Stewart, as well as his own uneven recording career.
Hardin dropped out of high school at age 18 to join the Marine Corps. After his discharge he moved to New York City in 1961, where he briefly attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He was dismissed because of truancy and began to focus on his musical career by performing around Greenwich Village, mostly in a blues style.
After moving to Boston in 1963 he was discovered by the record producer Erik Jacobsen (later the producer for The Lovin' Spoonful), who arranged a meeting with Columbia Records. In 1964 he moved back to Greenwich Village to record for his contract with Columbia. The resulting recordings were considered a failure by Columbia, which chose not to release them and terminated Hardin's contract.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1965, he met actress Susan Morss (known professionally as Susan Yardley), and moved back to New York with her. He signed to the Verve Forecast label, and produced his first authorized album, Tim Hardin 1 in 1966. This album saw a transformation from his early traditional blues style to the folk style that defined his recording career. This LP contained "Reason To Believe" and the ballad "Misty Roses" which did receive Top-40 radio play.
Tim Hardin 2 was released in 1967 and contained one of his most famous songs, "If I Were a Carpenter".
An album entitled This is Tim Hardin, featuring covers of "House of the Rising Sun", Fred Neil's "Blues on the Ceilin'" and Willie Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man", among others, appeared in 1967, on the Atco label. The liner notes indicate the songs were recorded in 1963-64, well prior to the release of Tim Hardin 1 by Verve Records. Tim Hardin 3 Live in Concert, released in 1968, was a collection of live recordings along with re-makes of previous songs; it was followed by Tim Hardin 4, another collection of blues-influenced tracks believed to date from the same period as This is Tim Hardin.
In 1969, Hardin again signed with Columbia and had one of his few commercial successes, as a non-LP single of Bobby Darin's "Simple Song of Freedom" reached the US Top 50. Hardin did not tour in support of this single and a heroin addiction and stage fright made his live performances erratic. Also in 1969 he appeared at the Woodstock Festival where he sang his famous "If I Were a Carpenter" song. He recorded three albums for Columbia — Suite for Susan Moore and Damion: We Are One, One, All in One; Bird on a Wire; and Painted Head — none of which sold well. His output as a songwriter decreased and eventually ceased during this period, a circumstance blamed on his ongoing drug problems.
Later career and death
During the following years Hardin moved between England and the U.S. His heroin addiction had taken control of his life by the time his last album, Nine, was released on GM Records in the UK in 1973 (the album did not see a US release until it appeared on Antilles Records in 1976). He died of a heroin and morphine overdose, and is buried in the Twin Oaks Cemetery in Turner, Oregon.