John Hartford: Five Years Departed

10 p.m. to Midnight Host: Steve Winters

This is a special program to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of multi-talented bluegrass legend John Hartford. Hartford was best known as the writer of the song “Gentle On My Mind” which is now an American standard, but his position in American music is also pivotal as one of the avant-garde innovators of the progressive sound in bluegrass music.

Hartford’s recording career spanned 40 years with close to 40 albums and four Grammy awards. He also managed to find time to fulfill his childhood passion and become an experienced riverboat pilot, a life choice made possible by the steady royalty income he received from “Gentle On My Mind,” one of the most recorded songs in music history.

Early in his career in the late 1960s Hartford spent time writing and performing on Hollywood-based television shows, but as the 1970s began he returned to his musical roots in traditional music. After several years of not performing as he pursed his riverboat pilot’s license, Hartford returned to music and in the intervening years perfected his concept of what he termed the “one-man square dance band.”

He died on June 4, 2001, at age 63, after a 20-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of leukemia

  • Artist, "Title", Album, Label

  • John Hartford, “Turn Your Radio On”, “Steamboat-Whistle Blues”, Aereo-Plain, Warner Brothers/Rounder


  • John Hartford, “Gentle On My Mind”, “(Good Old Electric) Washing Machine (Circa 1943)”,

  • “Natural To Be Gone”, “Jack’s In The Sack”, RCA Country Legends, Buddha/RCA/BMG


  • John Hartford, “Back In the Goodle Days”, “Up On The Hill Where They Do The Boogie”, “First Girl I Loved”, “With A Vamp In the Middle”, “Steam-Powered Aereo-Plane”, Aereo-Plain, Warner Brothers/Rounder


  • David Bromberg et al, “Babe You’ve Been On My Mind”, A Place To Be/Fox Hollow 1971, Biograph

  • John Hartford, “Morning Bugle”, “Old Joe Clark”, Morning Bugle, Warner Brothers


  • John Hartford, “Skippin’ In The Mississippi Dew”, “Long Hot Summer Days”, “Julia Belle Swain”, Mark Twang, Flying Fish

  • John Hartford, “A Simple Thing As Love”, “Forty Years A Gambler”, “My Rag”, Catalogue, Flying Fish


  • John Hartford, “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow”, “Indian War Whoop”, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Mercury

  • John Hartford, “Big Rock Candy Mountain”, Down From The Mountain, Lost Highway


  • Nashville Bluegrass Band, “Old Riverman”, Twenty Year Blues, Sugar Hill

  • Jamie Hartford, “Old Time Riverman”, “Gentle On My Mind”, Part Of Your History, New Sheriff

  • John Hartford, “Presbyterian Guitar”, Aereo-Plain, Warner Brothers/RounderWest, Red House