Tom Rush is a familiar name to anyone who has enjoyed folk music in the last 50+ years. Born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1941, Tom was adopted by a teacher who worked and lived in Concord, NH, where Tom grew up. He was sent to the Groton School in Groton, MA and was accepted into Harvard University, where he earned a degree in English Literature. After graduation, believing his degree provided limited options for a career, Tom decided to be a musician.
This decision was not unreasonable. Tom had shown an interest in music since at least his teenage years. At fourteen, Tom learned to play the ukulele and at fifteen, he transitioned to guitar and began performing while he was at Harvard. Cambridge was the epicenter for folk music in the ’60s, putting Tom in the perfect place at the perfect time. Club 47 was known for hosting folk legends, rising stars, and young hopefuls. Tom Rush fit right into the Cambridge culture.
His early work was mostly Lowland Scots and Appalachian folk songs. He began composing his own songs and singing songs by other writers such as Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Jackson Browne, helping them to gain recognition. Tom was attracted to these writers because their songs had the feel of folk with a little more sophistication. Rolling Stone credits Tom with ushering in the era of the singer/songwriter. In 1968, “No Regrets” became a standard and has been covered by many artists. His 1970 album The Circle Game featured songs by James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, and other artists, focusing on less traditional folk.
In 2007, a video of Tom performing “The Remember Song” written by Steven Walters went viral. Tom’s children had to explain to him that “viral” was a good thing. He reacted by saying it had taken him 45 years to become an overnight sensation.
In 2012, Tom celebrated 50 years in the music business with a performance at Boston’s Symphony Hall. He continues to tour, enchanting his audiences with his rich, baritone voice and talent for sensitive interpretation of lyrics. His fans, old and new, will agree that Tom Rush is a true New England treasure.
(by Carol Starkey)