Norman Blake
Photo: Courtesy of Hearth PR

83-Year-Old Norman Blake Takes His “Time”

Acclaimed American folk artist Norman Blake share his new single “Time” from the upcoming album, Day by Day, out on 22 October via Smithsonian Folkways.

American musician Norman Blake (not to be confused with the Scottish fellow from Teenage Fanclub) is 83-years old, and he sounds it. The creaky-voiced octogenarian is obsessed with “Time”, as the newly released first single from his upcoming album Day by Day (out on 22 October via Smithsonian Folkways) reveals. The new record features Blake mainly covering some of his favorite old-time tunes on vocals, banjo, and guitar. It was recorded in on afternoon in single takes with his wife Nancy on cello with members of the Rising Fawn String Ensemble, including fiddler James Bryan, vocalist David Hammonds, and guitar/vocalist Joel McCormick. They play the old-time music straight and plain, which befits Blake’s strength as a multi-instrumentalist whose craftsmanship shines on every note.

The single “Time” is one of two original tunes on the record (the other is the instrumental “Old Joe’s March”). Blake’s voice betrays his age with dignity. He forthrightly declares that “Time has taken in its sway / the golden dream of yesterday” without complaint. Blake currently may be “shipwrecked” from his mind as his memories are just embers, but he’s not worried. The tremble in his delivery shows his strength and determination, not weakness. Combined with the steadiness of his playing, it conveys his grit.

Blake is revered within folk music circles because of his many accomplishments. He’s put out more than 40 studio albums, backed up Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan on the seminal Nashville Skyline, and worked with the legendary John Hartford during Hartford’s most creative period. Blake also recorded with singer Joan Baez and appeared on her hit song “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”,  played dobro on the 1972 album Will the Circle Be Unbroken by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Later, he performed on the album Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, which won five Grammy Awards, and worked with T Bone Burnett on the soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which won a Grammy for Album of the Year. “Time” shows Blake isn’t ready to retire yet. The best may be yet to come.