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Jesse Colin Young - The Soul of a City Boy (1965)


Jesse Colin Young is an American singer/songwriter/folksinger and a founding member and lead singer of the 1960's group The Youngbloods

Young was born Perry Miller and raised in Queens and attended fourth grade with Art Garfunkel. His mother was a violinist  and his father was an accountant with a strong interest in classical music. When he was 15 years old, Young received a scholarship to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and was later expelled.

During the 1960s, while living in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan, Young released two solo albums, The Soul of a City Boy and Young Blood. He then formed the group called The Youngbloods which included guitarist Jerry Corbitt, keyboardist/guitarist Lowell "Banana" Levinger, and drummer Joe Bauer. Their first album contained the song "Get Together", written by Chet Powers, which was re-released as a single in 1969. Young and his band, founded Raccoon Records, and released four additional albums on it.

Young left the group in 1972 and released a solo album called Together. His fourth solo album, Song for Juli, had four singles and remained on the Billboard Top 200 chart for several months. In 1978, Jesse recorded the album American Dreams, which was followed by the album The Perfect Stranger in 1982. In 1987 he released the album The Highway Is for Heroes.

He continued touring and re-formed the Youngbloods band before going back to a solo recording career in 1987. In 1993 he began his own recording company called Ridgetop Music. (wikipedia)


If I were to ask someone, in the year 2008, to name a male folk singer from the 1960's I would assume that if I were to get an answer to that question that the name would be Bob Dylan. And that would be a good and appropriate choice. One can endlessly dispute whether or not Dylan was (or wanted to be) the voice of the Generation of '68 but in terms of longevity and productivity he fits the bill as a known quality. However, there were a slew of other male folk singers who tried to find their niche in the folk milieu and who, like Dylan, today continue to produce work and to perform. The artist under review Jesse Colin Young is one such singer/songwriter.

The following is a question that I have been posing in reviewing the work of a number of male folk singers from the 1960's and it is certainly an appropriate question to ask of Jesse as well. I do not know if Jesse Colin Young, like his contemporary Bob Dylan whom he followed in moving from acoustic folk to folk rock, started out wanting to be the king of the hill among male folk singers but he certainly had some things going for him. A fair to middling acoustic guitar but a very interesting and mournful voice in the early acoustic days.

Moreover, Jesse set himself, more than others of the time, to speak to urban concerns and longings. I can remember being mesmerized by the effect of Four In The Morning (usually listening to it at that time, as well). Or the longing behind Suzanne and Black Eyed Susan. Or the late night whiff of whiskey in the air (Yes, I know we were underage at the time but let us let that pass) with the forgetfulness of Rye Whiskey. Yes, there were some tools and talent there. People may be more familiar with the latter electric rock material of the Youngbloods day but give a listen to Jesse, back in the day. (amazon)

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