Back in the 1980s when I first moved out of home and into a shared house, our days and nights were soundtracked for a long time by the wonderful Ted Hawkins.
Largely overlooked in the States, he became hugely popular overseas later in his lifetime, but now, Cold and Bitter Tears: The Song of Ted Hawkins, (out on 23rd October on Austin-based Eight 30 Records), marks the first tribute album to the soulful Venice Beach street performer.
The Mississippi native died on New Year’s day in 1995 after a hardscrabble life and brief autumnal rise in popularity. He earned a following as a longtime busker on the Venice Beach boardwalk, but his unpredictable lifestyle prevented widespread notice. He made minor critical waves with his 1982 debut Watch Your Step, an album that failed commercially, but earned a five-star review in Rolling Stone and was the record we all loved in that summer.
The tribute album includes such luminaries as James McMurtry (taking on Big Things), Mary Gauthier (a wonderful version of the brilliant Sorry You’re Sick), and Gurf Morlix covering another personal favourite I Gave Up All I Had.
Listen below to Big Things and Kasey Chambers and Bill Chambers’ version of Cold And Bitter Tears, and take a moment to listen to a Ted Hawkins original too.
“What do you want from the liquor store?
Something sour or something sweet?
I’ll buy you all that your belly can hold,
you can be sure you won’t suffer no more”