Shawn Phillips: from Teaching Joni Mitchell to Play Guitar to Singing With The Beatles

January 3, 2018

Shawn Phillips is one of most fascinating and enigmatic musicians to come out of the early '70s singer-songwriter boom. The mere fact that he was a musician as much as a singer and songwriter made him stand out, and helped him attract a dedicated following. His refusal to shape his music -- which crosses between folk-rock, jazz, progressive, pop, and classical -- to anyone else's expectations has allowed him to hold onto a large and dedicated cult following, without ever achieving the stardom that his talent seems to merit.......With 15 albums behind him since the mid-1960s, Phillips has a following, in America, Europe, and Japan, and he has performed at different world music festivals. A cult figure whose peers include Van Dyke Parks and, perhaps, Leonard Cohen (though Cohen's public profile is enhanced by his following, as an established poet and author, in the literary community), he remains an enigmatic figure on the music landscape. His work remained sufficiently in demand in the 1990s, however, to justify a best-of compilation from A&M in 1992 that included notes by Phillips and one new song. In 1998, eight of his LPs were re-released via the Wounded Bird label. 

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