Tompkins Square have announced the reissue of a rare 1975 Private-Press LP by Philip Lewin. The debut album Am I Really Here All Alone, was described by Jeff Conklin (WFMU) as “a loner folk masterpiece; accidentally psychedelic, lit by heartbreak and timeless in its sadness and hope.”
The private pressing saw only 300 copies released at the time. Tompkins Square have remastered the release from the original tapes. Philip shared this about the release today:
In 1967 I began my life in the student union of a university. In other words, I was in school. But, classes definitely took a back seat to people-watching and attempts at relationships. I would not say that I was particularly good at the latter, but I made a great observer. I even stayed near the school community for an extra year until an opportunity came up to move in with friends in Toronto, Canada, which turned out to be a pivotal opportunity for me.
I was once told that one should first write about one’s own experiences, then, expand to documenting the observed experiences of those around, and, finally write about what one imagines. Am I Really Here All Alone? encompasses all of the above. Something else I realized in writing lyrics is that sometimes it is good to be transparent about the meaning and others times, not so much. “Unusual Day” is an example of me being honest struggling to develop and maintain a relationship, but ultimately realizing it was not going to succeed. “Watercolours” documents a crushing experience, but is couched in metaphor. I hope that listeners will relate through their own experiences, and because my reality is implied, not specified, will not be limited to mine. “Sweet Georgia” is an example of me, as a writer, leaving my personal space. I think of it as an attempt to clone William Faulkner to Bobbie Gentry. “The Magic Within You” is actually a commission where I was asked to write a song for a benefit to be performed by Doug Henning, the groundbreaking stage magician and friend. I once heard John Prine complain that there was no point in writing a ‘train song’ because Steve Goodman had already written the perfect one with “City of New Orleans”. Naturally, I had to write “Back Home, To You”, my idea of a train song where I tried to capture the movement of the train in the rhythm of the guitar. As for the other six songs, to me, they all reflect realities, experienced, observed and imagined. Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” However my question is, “Am I Really Here All Alone?”
-Philip Lewin, 2017
Released 24 February via Tompkins Square
Pre-Order on CD/LP: www.tompkinssquare.com