Friends Gone By

Friends Gone By

by Howard WoodenHoward Wooden


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Howard Wooden, best known as a singer/bassist in the Vermont-based folk group Wood's Tea Company, moves beyond the realm of self-released albums to an independent record company with Friends Gone By, issued by Vermont's Gadfly Records. He performs in a pleasant folk-pop style, coming up with attractive melodies that are played with one or two solo instruments adding flavor. For example, "Do You Love Me?" has a jazzy flavor and features guest solos by Chas Eller on piano and Dave Grippo on saxophone. Wooden sings in a reedy tenor that occasionally recalls Tom Paxton and Gordon Lightfoot in their more contemplative moods. Unfortunately, when you've listened to the songs a few times and the lyrics begin to sink in (or if you just consult the lyric sheet), the songs start to become less impressive. Co-writing with Josh Mitchell or Janine Hubbard on some songs, Wooden devotes himself to a variety of complaints, starting with "Living on the Iceberg," which, with its mixed metaphors and imperfect rhyming, seems to be a general philosophical query about personal existence in which the singer "[wonders] what's inside my head." "I Want to Be Free," the second of three consecutive songs that begin with the narrator waking up, also would seem like a generalized expression of discontent if Wooden did not provide a footnote in the CD booklet: "This came from the years I worked in mindless factory jobs." In "The Sun's Still in My Eyes (Roll Over)," the narrator can't even manage to get out of bed, while "Do You Love Me?" and "Can't Find a Friend" speak to the difficulty of acquiring and maintaining lovers and friends, and "Living on the Road" explains that part of this difficulty has to do with the singer's peripatetic life. But if Wooden is good at describing his problems, he isn't as effective at analyzing them or evoking sympathy. Rather, he often comes across as self-pitying and fatalistic. The album also contains some pretty instrumentals, though Wooden's admission about "1002 Intro" that it is "[a] combination of various guitar riffs I stole from Leo Kottke and Jefferson Airplane is no joke; the Airplane's Jorma Kaukonen deserves a songwriting credit.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/21/2004
Label: Gadfly
UPC: 0076605228729
catalogNumber: 287
Rank: 202518


  1. Living on the Iceberg
  2. I Want to Be Free
  3. The Sun's Still in My Eyes (Roll Over)
  4. Celtic Dreams
  5. Do You Love Me?
  6. Can't Find a Friend
  7. Friends Gone By
  8. Drema Kalajian
  9. Living on the Road
  10. Darling Children
  11. 1002 (Intro)
  12. 1002
  13. Like a Light

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Howard Wooden   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Vocals
Pete Sutherland   Fiddle,Piano,Strings
Dave Grippo   Saxophone
Diane Zeigler   Background Vocals
Patrick Fitzsimmons   Percussion,Drums
Chas Eller   Piano
Aaron Flinn's Salad Days   Acoustic Guitar
Tom MacKenzie   Hammered Dulcimer
Mike Lussen   Dulcimer,Banjo
Lauren Kogge   Background Vocals
Rusty Jacobs   Dobro
Aaron Flinn   Acoustic Guitar
Sarah Wooden   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Joe Egan   Engineer
Terry Talbot   Composer
Johnny Talbot   Composer
Aaron Flinn's Salad Days   Engineer
Howard Wooden   Composer
Rusty Magee   Composer

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