Search - John Gorka :: Writing in the Margins

Writing in the Margins
John Gorka
Writing in the Margins
Genres: Folk, Pop
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

If John Gorka had lived in Elizabethan England, he might have joined melancholia masters Thomas Browne and the "always mourning" composer John Dowland for a pint or seven of sorrow. If he had hung out in '70s Texas, he'd h...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: John Gorka
Title: Writing in the Margins
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Red House
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 7/11/2006
Genres: Folk, Pop
Styles: Traditional Folk, Contemporary Folk, Singer-Songwriters
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 033651019428

If John Gorka had lived in Elizabethan England, he might have joined melancholia masters Thomas Browne and the "always mourning" composer John Dowland for a pint or seven of sorrow. If he had hung out in '70s Texas, he'd have found a friend in Townes Van Zandt, whose "Snow Don't Fall" he renders with a ripe languor that the author's version only hinted at. Gorka's sense of loss isn't nebulous anomie and it's rarely self-indulgent--it's rooted in experience and a clear-eyed, often dissenting view of contemporary life. The title track follows the familiar genre of a soldier's letter to the girl he left behind--only this warrior is a transport truck driver, and this anti-war song builds through ache to an almost orchestral sweep. While he dispatches the masters of war in "Road of Good Intentions," he mostly identifies with the enlisted men smoking alone in airports. And while "Bluer State" surveys a lifetime of scattered friends, the Democratic pun is most definitely intended. The overall mood of this album may be contemplative, but it's never dour. When he offers up a solitary summa on "I Miss Everyone" (including every person he's ever met and some he hasn't), he backs it with a surprisingly jaunty honky-tonk swing. Throughout, Gorka varies his acoustic urbanity just enough--the Mavis Staples-inspired "When You Sing" gets some subtle R&B horns and his warm baritone gets some sweet harmonies from Nanci Griffith--to reflect the complexity and intelligence of his romantic and political laments. --Roy Kasten

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CD Reviews

How does he keep doing it again and again?
Sonny Saggese | Boston | 08/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I wonder why I always seem to think of John Gorka along side of Frank Sinatra. It's not the same music, type of music, but yet it is. He's not nearly as popular as Sinatra, but somehow he is with in the New Folk Community. It's none of that. It's somehow the consistency. When you play a Sinatra song, even one never heard, you know what to expect. That it will be good, and somehow lift you up and make you feel better, even when the song is sad. The heart shines through.
THat's what I get from John Gorka. I hate to use a cliche like 'The heart shines through' for such a talented 'wordsmith' like Mr. Gorka. But then again his vocals are so connected that even he, like Mr. Frank Sinatra, can make even the most 'cliched' lyrics take on a new meaning, and universe with in the listener.
I'm just hoping that when John Gorka is all done with his final song that he will have an endless aray of songs that Sinatra left behind. HOw could anyone have recorded that many songs I sometimes wonder, and then I think of artists like John Gorka and hope that they do the same.
Great album for Gorka fans, or newbies alike.
Also it is great to see artists like Gorka being so nice to thier fans, genuinely nice, whether returning emails or being accessible after concerts....because most Folk Artists have fans with so many, too many questions about the lyrics.
He was nice to me, and fielded as many as I showered him with.
His vision is still clear....
jackscrow | Ohio. Yep, we're to blame. | 08/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)


Most people are not quite sure how to categorize him. But when you really listen, it seems that Gorka knows where he's going and it's ok if you don't get it, he's writing for those who do. Get it.

This entire release is filled with the subtle work of a confident and mature songwriter who is solidly in place, writing songs that prompt real thought. On real life. In the real world.

Line upon killer line that can be dissected and viewed from many angles.

"Over here. Over here. My eyes are shot... but my vision's clear."

John Gorka once sang, "They didn't get what I was meaning 'til I stopped meaning too much."

Evidently he is still meaning a little too much for JStanley.

About eight of us went as a group to a Gorka concert a couple of years ago. Some university types along with some real-worlders.

About halfway through the night, one of the group (She had just "earned" her PhD in one of those questionable disciplines that puts more emphasis on "self actualization within the aims of the study program" than originality and scholarship -- I learned later that her listening habits tended toward Seals & Crofts and Lionel Ritchie.) looked at the rest of us and said "He's got such a wonderful voice. It's too bad he can't write."

We just stared at her.

That's the way you have to look at a "review" like the one "JStanley" posted here.
When He Sings
P. Bryn Benson | Chciago, Illinois | 08/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"These days we all grapple with a global community so full of fear and violence that it makes a body wonder what will be left for our children? Writing in the Margins is a songwriter's response to a world hard to reconcile. A husband, a father, a friend, these are songs to get you through a sunny or a blue day and remind you that you are not alone, there are others who see it and feel it too.

Writing in the Margins has a clear political bend, but that shouldn't be a surprise to Gorka fans. He has always shared his politics and worn his heart on his writing sleeve. Whether looking at his changing neighborhood, houses growing in rural fields or a solider writing home to his lover, we hear his lament and understand his bluer state. He is an observer, creating fine songs with never a wasted word.

The songs on WIM, like the songs that came before, shine a light on the commonplace. As in John's earlier albums, it is his ability of making a mountain out of a molehill, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary story that keeps people coming back for more. His songs are not just good, they are great. On Writing in the Margins the co-writes done with his wife, Laurie Allman, are some of the best including Bluer State. Chance of Rain and Broken Place.

Like the other 10 albums John Gorka has brought to the marketplace, Writing in the Margins holds songs written with an observant eye and an open heart. He speaks to our experiences giving his listeners a place to go when the world starts closing in...if only for a few minutes.

When Mr. Gorka sings, the world is a better place."