John Hartford was a banjo player, and one of the most famous songwriters you’ve never heard of. Outside of his devoted fanbase, of which I count myself, he is a one hit wonder, but what a hit!
Despite breaking all the conventional rules of a pop song; long, rambling, and notably lacking any chorus, his tune made the career of Glenn Campbell, and was soon recorded by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Aretha Franklin, and Elvis Presley.
The song was “Gentle On My Mind” and its commercial success allowed John Hartford to spend the rest of life doing whatever he darn well pleased. What pleased him most was making music.
He’s known for his charm, humour, and quirkiness effortlessly flowing along with virtuosic skill on the banjo and fiddle. His style is instantly recognizable, which he explains w