The Coen Brothers film Inside Lleuwyn Davis is an affectionate and pretty accurate look at the folk scene in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, the scene that brought us the music of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Dave Van Ronk, Paul Simon, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and Tom Paxton.
In the film Troy Nelson, (played by Stark Sands), is a deliberate echo of Paxton. Like Tom at the beginning of his career, Nelson is in the Army and living at Fort Dix, visiting the Village at weekends to sing at the Gaslight and other clubs in the Village. The Coens leave us little doubt about this being Tom, since Troy sings “The Last Thing on My Mind,” in the film, one of Paxton’s best known songs.
Tom, who will be touring here soon with Janis Ian, has given us some of the best songs of the last 50 yrs : The Last Thing On My Mind, Bottle Of Wine, Rambling Boy, Annie’s Going To Sing Her Song, Jimmy Newman, Lyndon Johnson Told The Nation, Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound, What Did You Learn In School Today? and dozens more.
His songs have been covered by Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, The Weavers, Judy Collins, Sandy Denny, Joan Baez, Doc Watson, Harry Belafonte, Peter, Paul and Mary, Marianne Faithfull, The Kingston Trio, John Denver, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, Willie Nelson, Flatt & Scruggs and many more.
He is a great live performer, still writing fine songs and still getting out there and doing what he does best. He is also one of the best storytellers and joke tellers I have come across; a few years ago he kept me up most of the night in San Diego telling stories and jokes and just yarning away; a very funny man and a very wise man.