MP3 Jay Hitt - Through The Window
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12 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Modern Folk, FOLK: Folk Pop
Through the Window
A Critical Appreciation by Robert A. Wagner
My father-in-law was in the car. This was a few years ago. I don't remember where we were going or why he was in the car, but there was a CD playing, and the old man wanted to know what we were listening to.
"Jay Hitt," we said.
"Jay Hitt. He's a friend of ours."
"You know him? How?"
My father-in-law was damn impressed-and not just with the music. This music was too good to have been created by a friend of ours. This guy must be big, must be a star. How did we manage to meet a star?
When I met Jay at the Calliope Songwriters Circle some seven or eight years ago (could it be that long?), my first impression was that he didn't sound like "folk" music. When I think of folk music, I think of Woody Guthrie, Doc Watson, Jean Ritchie, the Harry Smith anthology. I thought listening to folk music is supposed to be like eating apples from a tree found in a clearing in the woods. Don't mind a few worm holes. Cut off the bad parts, and they're still of good eatin'.
But Jay Hitt's music has no worm holes. He sings and plays with such ease that at first listen, dare I say, I was reminded of a soft-rock act from the seventies like Seals and Crofts or Gilbert O'Sullivan.
He sounds nice, and as a rule, I don't like nice. I want passion! Passion is when you feel so strongly about something you punch a wall or yell till your throat is raw like Bob Dylan, right?
Not so fast.
The music I treasure most is created by artists who consistently demonstrate the courage to challenge my expectations. I don't want people telling me what they think I want to hear. I want them to speak from the heart. And I expect the voice of the heart to be overwhelming. I want to be provoked. I want to rocked out of my complacency. I want to be MOVED.
Jay Hitt's music moves me every bit as much as Bob Dylan, John Prine, and Steve Earle but in an altogether different fashion. Jay Hitt is not a hillbilly, labor singer or campus crusader. He's a comfortable, middle-class, middle-aged guy with a family and a home in the suburbs.
Guys like that aren't supposed to be able to move you, are they? But Jay writes with uncommon insight and honesty about the world he knows, and what emerges is something akin to a folk singer's version of Charles Schulz's Peanuts. Good, decent, timeless wisdom.
Among Jay's finest material is "Come to Me" from the 2003-release THROUGH THE WINDOW. Set to a jaunty rhythm worthy of Harry Nilsson, the song opens with the voice of the narrator as a twelve-year old being rousted by his grandmother. It's Sunday morning, and he has to drag himself to church. Later, he graduates to the world of credit cards and divorce. Before he knows it, he's beginning to contemplate the inevitability old age. How old is old? What happens when you die? Oh well, guess we'll find out when we get there, won't we?
"Come to Me" resolves into one of the finest explorations of faith ever recorded. That's right. I said "one of the finest...ever recorded." That's how good it is...in my humble opinion. And it runs contrary to so much of bluster of contemporary spiritual music that suggests that faith is discovered through trauma and loss. In Jay's world, a simple man with a humble life can discover faith.
The title-song from THROUGH THE WINDOW, set to an innocuous whistle-while-you-work kind of melody, is a loving examination of the hearts and lives of a middle-class American family through the voices of its children. Three children tell their tales from the safe haven of three different rooms, their melodies woven together at the song's conclusion-pure genius. Another from the collection, "Patches the Pony" tells the story of an indomitable spirit, a horse that will not be broken or contained even by an electric fence.
Like the PEANUTS cartoon, Jay Hitt can be enjoyed by the entire family. The audiences for his shows are almost always multi-generational with children playing in the aisles, parents relaxing with a beverage, and grandparents relieved that the culture hasn't gone totally to hell. Great music is timeless.
Unfortunately, the music-business profits mightily from the exploitation of teen angst, something Jay (thankfully) lacks. If Jay got a few tattoos and ran a piece of chrome through his lips, maybe we'd see his picture in the paper or hear him on the radio: It's not about selling music, son, it's about selling a lifestyle. How we supposed to sell a lifestyle everybody already has? That's like selling water to a fish. How'm I supposed to make any money doing that?
Jay's shows at venues like Club Café and the now defunct Rosebud have consistently sold beyond capacity, so he has clearly succeeded in building a large and loyal following. He's been voted Best Acoustic Performer by readers of The Pittsburgh City Paper. His CDs actually sell. You'd think SOMEBODY would come along and try to make this guy a star. (If you don't believe me, just ask my father-in-law.)
But Jay Hitt, as a man, is a lot like the characters and themes in his songs. To become a star, he'd have to crave and pursue stardom. And in the process, he'd most likely lose his ability to relate to and interpret the lives of ordinary people with such extraordinary subtlety and detail. He honors his gifts, works at his craft, respects his audience and achieves excellence. He is everything that is good about "folk" music, and I can think of no one more deserving of recognition and support.
Jay Hitt discography:
Old Town 1996
Gentle Persuader 1998
The Bright Extraordinary Day 2000
Through The Window 2003
Jay To The World ( Christmas music) 2003
All discs available and news of upcoming performances can be found at https://www.tradebit.com
From Calliope Folk Music Society Newsletter in December 2004
Jay Hitt is a versatile singer songwriter and has performed in many venues throughout the United States both as a solo artist and as a member of various bands. Jay has appeared on radio as part of the show "The Saturday Light Brigade" on WYEP FM in Pittsburgh as well as on television numerous times as a guest on the internationally broadcast program "His Place" and the program, "OnQ" on WQED. Jay has appeared frequently at the Post Gazette Amphitheatre and is a frequent performer in the annual Three Rivers Art Festival.
Jay's CD, "Gentle Persuader" was named as one of the top ten CDs of the year on WYEP. In November of 2001, Jay was selected to perform his song, "Come To America" during the Kaufmann's / WPXI Holiday parade in Pittsburgh. Recently, Jay performed at the Three Rivers Art Festival with singer songwriter Tom Chapin and at the Butler Regatta with Christopher Cross. Jay is a past winner in the Billboard songwriting contest and, in 2003, Jay was the winner of the New Folk Showcase at the New Jersey Folk Festival.
In 1994 Jay released the CD "Old Town" and in 1995 one of his original songs "Once Burned, Twice Shy" was included on the Blue Duck Records release "Swan Songs". That release contained original music from various local and national recording artists including members of the band, Rusted Root. He has written commercial music for radio advertising and composed the theme song for a television program.
In 2002, the readers of Pittsburgh City Paper voted Jay the Best Acoustic Musician in Pittsburgh and he has been in the top three in 2003 and 2004.
For further information contact: Jay Hitt
Valencia, PA 16059-0547
email to [email protected]://www.tradebit.com
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