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Patrick Sky

Born Patrick Lynch, October 2, 1940, in Live Oak Gardens, nr. Atlanta, Georgia, Patrick was a descendant of the Creek/Muskogee Indians; his grandmother taught him her tribe’s traditional songs. Equally inspired by the legend of WOODY GUTHRIE and satirical political comic Will Rogers (a part-Cherokee Indian), SKY broke away from his people’s base in LaFouche Swamp in Louisiana, firstly to honour his 2-year conscription in the Army, secondly to become a folk-music troubadour, having earlier learned how to play guitar, banjo and harmonica.
Alongside fellow Native American BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE (his girlfriend at the time), Patrick toured the coffeehouses and clubs of eastern America during the early half of the 60s, before finally settling into the Greenwich Village scene. With both parties signing to Vanguard Records, his eponymous PATRICK SKY (1965) {*7} album (coming as it did a year after Buffy’s debut) was unjustly lumped in with the post-DYLAN clique, much like RICHARD FARINA, DAVID BLUE, et al; these latter acts appeared with SKY on a `Singer-Songwriter Project’ LP for Elektra that year. His debut, meanwhile, consisted of several original compositions (two of them, `Many A Mile’ and `Love Will Endure’, duly borrowed by SAINTE-MARIE and The BLUES PROJECT respectively), while there was a competent mixture of covers and trad songs via TOM PAXTON (`Everytime’) and PETE LaFARGE (`The Ballad Of Ira Hayes’) and `Wreck Of The 97’.
Achieving little or nothing with his wry and traditional follow-up, A HARVEST OF GENTLE CLANG (1966) {*4}, Patrick immersed himself once again in bringing MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT back into the blues-folk mainstream (he’d worked with him in his Vanguard period right up to his death in November ‘66).
Re-emerging on Verve Forecast Records, SKY delivered albums three and four, although REALITY IS BAD ENOUGH (1968) {*5} and PHOTOGRAPHS (1969) {*5} still fell short of the earlier promise he’d shown. Always in the shadow of DYLAN, OCHS, ANDERSEN and VAN RONK, the latter set probably just edged the former, containing as it did decent covers of DAVID BLUE’s `I Like To Sleep Late In The Morning’, Gary White’s `The Greater Manhattan Love Song’ and Lonnie Irving’s novelty C&W ditty, `Pinball Machine’.
Uninspired by the response for his previous four LPs (which incidentally contained the odd comic rant), Patrick proceeded to go down the line of gross indecency by way of SONGS THAT MADE AMERICA FAMOUS (1973) {*7}, a recording from March 1971 that was passed on by several of the majors until SKY unleashed it himself. We’d had The FUGS, CHEECH & CHONG, David Allen Coe and in some respects, ZAPPA, but this barrage of “politically incorrect” anti-everything record (with backing soundtrack you’ll recognise) was unadulterated satire at its most vitriolic and vile – so, you’ll enjoy it then. Never will one’s folk music be saddled with anti-Semitism, anti-Christianity, anti-feminism, etc. again – one kids you not.
A tribute to the late JOHN HURT, TWO STEPS FORWARD – ONE STEP BACK (1976) {*5}, and covers swansong set THROUGH A WINDOW (1985) {*6} – including two DYLAN readings (`Blowin’ In The Wind’ and `Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’) were indeed low-key releases as the man faded into obscurity. Patrick has since become a master craftsman in the making of Irish Uillean pipes and, keeping in line with his own traditions and culture, the Native American mouth-bow; example PATRICK & CATHY SKY’s traditional album, DOWN TO US (2009) {*5}. As of mid-2010, one awaits some CD re-issues (or a best-of compilation) of his work, although there are downloads on his own website.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Aug2015

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