Eric Andersen was part of the early ’60s Greenwich Village folk scene in New York. After two decades of flying solo and releasing 16 studio albums, Andersen decided to be part of the Danko/Fjeld/Andersen trio. They would go on to release three studio albums together, performing together for nearly nine years. In 1998, Eric Andersen would release his first solo album in a decade, Memory of the Future. The album has been described as dreamy and introspective. His career didn’t end at that. Two years later, he would follow it with another album, “You Can’t Relive the Past,” which also received great reviews. Suffice it to say, Andersen has one of the richest discographies you’ll ever come across, which makes him one of the most prolific songwriters of all time. In this article, we look at ten of his most popular songs of all time.
10. Violets of the Dawn (from the album, “Bout Changes n’ Things” — 1966)
The album’s first track, “Violets of the Dawn,” starts off with Andersen slowly strumming his guitar. A harmonica is then brought in for a brief period before the song brings forth its lyricism. Love is forever. That has always been my greatest takeaway from the past, and it’s something I still strive for today–the idea that love can last a lifetime or more if we let it in our hearts. It took me some time before I found this truth–abundant love with spiritual freedom being what mattered above all. That’s exactly what this song is all about–loving someone with all your heart and letting them know that they are loved too.
9. Bumblebee (from the album, “Today is the Highway” — 1965)
Bumblebee is one of the two songs on the album where Eric Andersen’s first wife, Deborah Green Andersen, accompanied him on the guitar. The other one was the title track, “Today is the Highway.” In this track, Andersen talks about life and how things are the way they are. It’s all about letting go of everything that haunts us and moving on. The song starts with a guitar riff, which sets the tone for the rest of the song.
8. You Can’t Relive The Past (from the album, “You Can’t Relive the Past” — 1999)
Like any other Andersen song, You Can’t Relive The Past is full of metaphors and similes. It’s about the past and how one can never live there. It’s about “change” and how we must accept it if we ever want to move forward. When he sings “The future’s constant tyranny” and “Tomorrow I might draw a map, But most plans never last,” we can tell he’s talking about embracing change, the only constant we have in life. Andersen has always been great at painting pictures with his words. And this song is no different.
7. Close the Door Lightly (from the album, “Bout Changes n’ Things” — 1966)
As evident in this song, Andersen has had a knack for writing songs about life, love, and the many challenges we face. “Closing the Door Lightly” is no different, as he sings about letting go of someone he once loved. One of his lines, “Turn around, don’t whisper out my name,” is exceptionally powerful, especially since it signals there’s no going back.
6. Come to My Bedside (from the album “Today is the Highway” — 1965)
Come to My Bedside is one of Andersen’s many songs about love. It’s also an ode to the ‘60s when free love was all around. The song starts with a jangly guitar riff which accompanies his lyrics for the rest of the song. He says, “Come to my bedside, my darlin’, Come over here and close the door”–and you know he means it in the most loving way possible. It’s about inviting someone into your love nest, and this song captures that feeling perfectly.
5. “Is It Really Love at All” (from the album “Blue River” — 1972)
For an Eric Andersen fan, “Is It Really Love at All” is one of his most recognizable songs. The song has everything that makes it a great tune–a catchy guitar riff, wordplay and symbolism, and the sound of Andersen’s voice. This is one of those songs where you can truly feel the emotion he puts into singing about love gone wrong. There’s a sense of sadness and longing–and regret, which makes it all the more captivating to listen to.
4. Blue River featuring Joni Mitchell (from the album “Blue River” — 1972)
Blue River is one of Eric Andersen’s most popular songs. It was also the title song of his 1972 album “Blue River.” There are many interpretations of this song, but it can be anything you want it to be–after all, it is just a simple folk piece. However, over the years, Blue River came to stand for something bigger than just a song. It has come to represent Andersen himself and his long journey as an artist and musician.
3. When I’m Gone (from the album “Memory of the Future” — 1999)
When I’m Gone is a tribute to Phil Ochs, one of Andersen’s contemporaries in Greenwich Village. Phil Ochs is often looked upon as someone who influenced Andersen, and the song When I’m Gone came about after Ochs’ death. This isn’t necessarily a sad song–it’s more of an acknowledgment that life must go on. It has become an anthem for all of us who have found ourselves saying goodbye to good friends, loved ones, and the innocence of our youth.
2. I shall go unbounded (from “Bout Changes n’ Things” — 1966)
I Shall Go Unbounded is one of Eric Andersen’s most underrated songs. The lyrics are beautifully written, especially the chorus. He sings, “Oh, I see in your prison, Your chains, how they cling, how they clang.” And that line says it all–we all want to be free from something, whether it’s our past or a bad relationship. The song is also a play on words–it could mean going out into the world and seeing all of its wonders, but at the same time knowing that we have a lot of growing up to do.
1. Thirsty Boots (from “Bout Changes n’ Things” — 1966)
Andersen says he was encouraged to complete this song by The folksinger and activist Phil Ochs. A recording of this tune was dedicated posthumously in remembrance of its dedicatee. The song has since been re-recorded by artists such as Judy Collins and John Denver. Bob Dylan also recorded an alternate version for his 1970 Self Portrait album, but it did not make the final cut. However, it would be featured in his The Bootleg Series Vol 10, released in 2013.