Black Sheep Boy

Tim Hardin

Here I am back home again
I’m here to rest
All they ask is where I’ve been
Knowing I’ve been West.

I’m the family’s unknown boy
Golden curls of envied hair
Pretty girls with faces fair
See the shining Black Sheep Boy.

If you love me, let me live in peace.
Please understand
That the black sheep can wear the golden fleece
And hold a winning hand.

I’m the family’s unknown boy
Golden curls of envied hair
Pretty girls with faces fair
See the shining Black Sheep Boy.

– Tim Hardin

Some association – waking up for reasons unknown with one of his songs in my head – got me to return to Tim Hardin a few days ago and listen to the two ancient vinyl items of his I have (Best of and In Concert).
The songs he wrote were few, but they contained some shining gems that were covered over and over and have remained in public awareness ever since they came out in the 1960s, e.g. If I Were a Carpenter, The Lady Came from Baltimore, Hang on to a Dream, Reason to Believe, Red Balloon and the one above, Black Sheep Boy.
Like Bob Dylan, Tim Hardin emerged on the folk music scene of the sixties. Contrary to Dylan, who could be called a master of many words, Hardin could be said to be a master of few words. There is something truly masterful in how he managed to tell a whole story in a few simple words with a few carefully chosen details (very much in the tradition of folk songs) that stick in your mind. And to successfully get the listener to imagine the whole story with all the details. This is why I also chose the “enigma” tag for this post – see the note on the preceding Ode in D Blue.

About James Steerforth

I am an author of poetry and fiction, translator and painter who loves to have fun with borrowed feathers.
This entry was posted in Enigma, Life, Lyrics, Music, Poetry, Stellar poetry, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Black Sheep Boy

  1. Bill says:

    This poem suggests to me that Tim Hardin has come to a home where he had a difficult time growing up and was raised up as the black sheep. He wants the family to know that he’s achieved some success and recognition from the world. He’s telling the family, himself, and the listener, that a black sheep can rise to the achievements unexpected of him and that he was perhaps discouraged from hoping for himself.

    But I think that the family wasn’t paying attention to that after he told them what they wanted to know: just where he’s been.

    The ending is sad: He still has to ask for the family to let him live in peace, and in the final stanza he reaffirms the reader that for all his success, he is still the family’s “unknown boy,” the Black Sheep.

    The song tells us that he has self knowledge, but hasn’t pulled himself out and away from the label he was given as a boy. I wonder if that burden finally led to the end of his life.

    I remember listening to Tim Hardin’s songs when they were playing on the radio when I was a teenager. He’s great.

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