Tom Paxton

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Tom Paxton

Thomas Richard Paxton (born October 31, 1937 in Chicago , Illinois ) is an American folk singer , singer-songwriter, and children's book author.


Born the youngest child of Burton and Esther Paxton, he moved with his parents to Bristow, Oklahoma , where he grew up and which he considers his home , in 1948 at the age of 10 . After graduating from Bristow High School, he began studying drama at the University of Oklahoma , but turned more and more to folk music . While serving in the United States Army (Army Reserves), he was stationed in New York City , where he stayed after his release and made his home in the Greenwich Village folk music scene in the early 1960s . He made his first appearances in the coffee house The Gaslight , which also produced his first record in 1962. In 1963 he married his girlfriend Midge, with whom he has daughters Jennifer and Kate and three grandsons. In 1964 he was signed by Elektra Records , which released his most famous early songs, and toured the UK for the first time in 1965, where he has toured at least once a year since then. In addition to the USA and Great Britain, Tom Paxton has performed on numerous tours in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries.


Tom Paxton is the author of several hundred folk songs including The Last Thing On My Mind , Ramblin 'Boy , Bottle Of Wine , Whose Garden Was This? , What Did You Learn in School Today? and Peace Will Come are best known, as well as numerous songs for children such as Goin 'To The Zoo and The Marvelous Toy . He has also emerged as a children's book author with 16 titles so far, such as The Story of Santa Claus and Goin 'To The Zoo . He was nominated twice for a Grammy : in 2002 for his children's CD Your Shoes, My Shoes and in 2003 in the category Best Contemporary Folk Album for his CD Looking For The Moon . He has released around 40 albums of his own, but songs by Tom Paxton have also been recorded by hundreds of other artists. For example, the songwriter Hannes Wader translated Paxton's song Last thing on my mind into German in 2008 and has been singing it regularly on his tours since then ( I will survive it, published on the CD "Nah Dran").

Tom Paxton stands in the tradition of the politically left-wing, socially critical folk movement, as represented by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger . In addition to romantic love songs, songs with political statements make up the majority of his work, from the movement against the Vietnam War in the 1960s to the fight against the Bush administration and religious rights at the beginning of the 21st century. This also includes the so-called “short shelf-life songs”, mostly short songs of mockery about current political events, which he sings in the beginning of his concerts, but which are not published as recordings because of their short-lived time-bound nature.

Paxton is a prominent figure in the American folk scene. He has supported numerous young musicians in their beginnings and is valued by fellow musicians for his altruism and generosity.

Albums (selection)

  • I'm the Man That Built the Bridges (1962) (Gaslight)
  • Ramblin 'Boy (1964) (Elektra)
  • Ain't That News (1965) (Elektra)
  • Outward Bound (1966) (Elektra)
  • Morning Again (1967) (Elektra)
  • The Compleat Tom Paxton (1970) (Elektra), live double album
  • How Come The Sun (1971) (recapitulation)
  • Peace Will Come (1972) (recapitulation)
  • Heroes (1978) (Vanguard)
  • Best of Friends (1984, CD: Appleseed Records, 2004), with Bob Gibson and Anne Hills
  • One Million Lawyers And Other Disasters (1985) (Flying Fish Records)
  • Loving You (1986) (Flying Fish Records)
  • Politics Live (1988) (Flying Fish Records)
  • It Ain't Easy (1991) (Flying Fish Records)
  • Even A Gray Day (1992) (Flying Fish Records)
  • Wearing The Time (1994) (Sugar Hill)
  • Under American Skies (2001) (Appleseed)
  • Looking For The Moon (2002) (Appleseed)

CDs for children:

  • Goin 'To The Zoo (1997)
  • I've Got a Yo-Yo (1997)
  • A Child's Christmas (1997)
  • Fun Food Songs (1999)
  • Your Shoes, My Shoes (2001)

Books for children

  • Aesop's Fables (1988)
  • Jennifer's Rabbit (1988)
  • The Story of Santa Claus (1995)
  • Goin 'To The Zoo (1996)
  • The Jungle Baseball Game (1999)

Web links

Commons : Tom Paxton  - collection of images, videos and audio files