Cold and Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted Hawkins

Various Artists

(CD - Eight 30 Records #5638462141)

Review by Mark Deming

Ted Hawkins was a brilliant performer and songwriter whose life and career were pock-marked with tragedy and disappointment. Petty crime kept Hawkins in and out of jail in his younger days, and while he later enjoyed popular and critical success in Europe, the United Kingdom, and Japan, in his native California Hawkins supported himself by playing for tips along the Venice Beach boardwalk, where his rough but deeply soulful singing style always drew a crowd. While Hawkins landed a major-label record deal and began winning a significant American audience with the 1994 album The Next Hundred Years, fate stepped in and Hawkins died of a stroke just nine months after its release. Though Hawkins' voice was silenced, for many fans his songs were every bit as striking as his vocals, honest tales direct from the heart of life's joys and disappointments, and Cold and Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted Hawkins features 15 folk and roots music artists offering their interpretations of some of Hawkins' best tunes. Artists include Kasey Chambers & Bill Chambers ("Cold and Bitter Tears"), James McMurtry ("Big Things"), Mary Gauthier ("Sorry You're Sick"), Jon Dee Graham ("Strange Conversation"), Gurf Morlix ("I Gave Up All I Had"), Sunny Sweeney ("Happy Hour"), and many more.

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