Tim O’Brien offers “You Took Me In" for the second Bluegrass Sings Paxton release

Article Contributed by Mountain Home … | Published on Friday, May 17, 2024

“Jan and I came of age listening to and then singing [Tom] Paxton songs before we ever knew his name,” says GRAMMY award-winning singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien of himself and partner Jan Fabricius. “We both learned ‘Last Thing on My Mind’ and sang it around campfires before we met each other. So like a lot of folks, we kinda have Paxton in our musical DNA.”

That lifelong familiarity — not to mention the inevitable crossing of paths over the years — informs “You Took Me In,” the second single from Mountain Home Music Company’s forthcoming multi-artist tribute, Bluegrass Sings Paxton. With support from acclaimed bassist Mike Bub and fiddler Shad Cobb, who work episodically with them as the Tim O’Brien Band, O’Brien and Fabricius serve up a homespun original written with the master himself.

“Tom has been friendly and supportive over the years and in recent years often expressed his desire to write together,” O’Brien recounts. “With this project, push came to shove and Jan and I wrote ‘You Took Me In’ with Tom on our second session. I had the lyric idea and imagined some Earl Scruggs-style gospel guitar as backing. We had the song in about an hour. When we were done I asked Tom how many songs he’d written that week he said, ‘I’ve written four songs today!’”

“Paxton’s early songs,” O'Brien adds, “were the kind that sorta begged audiences to sing along. This one reaches in that direction. I love how simple and direct it is. Songs are like little puzzles that a certain strata of musicians have fun solving. We’re just honored to sit beside Tom, even if only virtually, as he does his masterful thing. He knows to let the song happen. He can pull a lyric from an instrumental riff, he improvises easily, and you can just trust him. When he says to go higher with the melody or go to the four chord, we’re never afraid to follow.”

With a finger-picked guitar part that splits the difference between Scruggs’ gospel guitar and the syncopated drive of rural blues, Cobb’s lithe, swooping fiddle work, a ragged-but-right vocal trio of O’Brien, Fabricius and Cobb, and an idiomatic lyric that slyly walks the line between secular and sacred, “You Took Me In” serves both as homage to Tom Paxton’s impact and as notice that his creative powers are as strong as ever.

Listen to "You Took Me In" HERE.