Bob Norman’s Recordings

Bob has recorded four albums of original songs for Night Owl Records. All were created in collaboration with guitarist, mandolinist, producer, arrranger Bob Rose, and all feature an eclectic crew of top-notch accompanists.

Bob's CDs can be ordered by credit card from CDBaby by following the links below. If you prefer to order by check, or if you prefer cassette copies of Love Lust & Lilacs or To The Core, you can download an order form below (requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader). Sound clips of all songs, in MP3 format, can be heard at the Fortissimo Folk Music Jukebox by following the links below. You can download the entire first track of Time-Takin' Man, “Down By Me,” for free at Free Downloads.

 

Time-Takin' Man
(NO-104)

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Love Lust & Lilacs
(NO-103)

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Love Lust & Lilacs is the first I’ve have heard of Bob Norman, and I’d happily keep an ear to the ground for his next album. His voice at first put me in mind of Leonard Cohen (but not so depressing!) and his lyrics made me think a bit of Janis Ian and Chris Rea—but his music is completely his own… The songs conjure pictures of startling clarity… ‘The Land of the Winds’ is a stately epic of a song, sorrow and joy flying together; close your eyes and see 'where the hawk flies so high, 'till he melts into the sun,' the winds whistling over the land, and your 'heartstrings may well be torn' by the solemn beauty of this song… Love Lust & Lilacs is a combination of two song titles on the album, ‘Love or Lust’ and ‘Lady With the Lilacs,’ both laden with imagery and adept rhyme. . . You quickly find yourself singing the odd snatch of song that has left an indelible imprint in your subconscious mind. In my CD collection, this one's a keeper!”
— Jenny Ivor, Rambles.net, a cultural arts magazine

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“Bob Norman is a very professional singer-songwriter, very much in the vein of the New York school whose unofficial master is Jack Hardy… His knowledge of folk music is evident from his recordings… His lyrics are very well written… In ‘Love or Lust,’ an energetic song and one of the best ones on Love Lust & Lilacs, he sings:

I don't know if it’s love or lust
That spins these wheels till the hubcaps rust
That twirls this world through the cosmic dust

In other songs, you’ll find ‘And the soil, it turned to sand, and the corn could not grow, see how it dies, row after row’ and many other unforgettable lines you will want to sing along with. Each one of the songs has at least two or three sentences that will, at the same time, make you sing and think about the meaning of living and the world. I think that this is what great songwriting is about. I definitely urge anyone interested in singer-songwriters to give this man a listen, but even more I recommend any singer or band to dig into the songs of this great songwriter. There may be more than one hit here, and many songs that will bring out the best in a great singer. This is my first encounter with Norman’s music, and I am sure I will be listening to his CDs a lot and for a long time.”
— Moshe Benarroch, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

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“Bob Norman is a journeyman folkie, a man with a direct approach to his trade whose songs entertain and comfort. Norman turns ordinary life into small and unpretentious charms you might hang on a bracelet that’s just right for everyday… On Love Lust & Lilacs, he sings in a voice still chuckling from between-song musings with his listeners. Norman’s folk comes trailing scents of the '60s. His ‘The Brightest Star’ is a feel-good reminiscence of a loving relationship that has woven a new family. Though Norman and his guitar hold center stage in his music, he’s enlisted help here from a circle of friends, two of whom supply a pretty call-and-response in ‘The Brightest Star’ between a low whistle and a fiddle. These are openly confessional tales that have a time-capsule quality in the way they savor the acts of songwriting and performance. ‘Wind-Blown Blackbirds,’ which Norman fills with Technicolor images, is nearly spoken. He sets those blackbirds against ‘a red-streaked sky.’ The song ‘Big Blue Engine’ offers this: ‘Sing your song you red-headed finch, go ahead on, you big blue engine.’ ”
— Larry Parnass, Hampshire Gazette

“Bob Norman makes an annual pilgrimage to California from his digs back on the East Coast, and this year he’s touring in support of his newest CD, Love Lust & Lilacs. Norman’s a dyed-in-the-wool folkie with a pedigree that includes a seven-year stint in the ’70s as the editor of Sing Out!, one of the leading magazines covering the folk music scene in this country. We’re talking about a guy whose approach to the music is as intellectually informed as it is emotionally propelled. So it’s not surprising to hear a ghostly host of influences in his music. It almost goes without saying that the music of today’s folksingers owes a debt to Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. What’s more interesting is to hear the other influences… In a couple offerings, there’s a taste of high-lonesome Jimmie Rodgers (sans yodeling) harmonica, and even more interesting, there’s also a touch of Phil Ochs on ‘Land of the Winds.’ There’s an almost ethereal willingness to rely on the emotionality to carry the poetry of the song. But Norman sounds more comfortable on songs like ‘Lady with the Lilacs’ that evoke something of the sound of early Jimmy Buffett (you remember, before he became a parrots-and-rum parody of himself), or on ‘The Long Road to Lawrenceville’ and ‘The Camera Doesn't Lie’ (a duet with Linda LoPresti), the easy, almost singalong quality of a Jerry Jeff Walker. Love Lust & Lilacs is an interesting combination of sounds and styles.”
— Chuck Thurman, Coast Weekly

“Bob Norman's latest Night Owl Records release, Love Lust & Lilacs, is a great contribution to folk music. Norman’s songs are graceful and compelling with poetic lyrics and traditional and contemporary folk styles.”
— Sandy Tomcho, Times Herald-Record

 

To The Core
(NO-102)

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“The 11 tracks on Bob Norman's To The Core, are rich with imagery and ideas that reflect the folk singer’s urban roots and love of nature… Norman’s a 25-year veteran of the folk scene who’s shared the stage with legends such as Pete Seeger and Richie Havens… Although most of the tales on To The Core are of city life—New York particularly—nature is a powerful presence in nearly all of them. The sky, the wind, the sea, and the snow seem always to be vying with buildings, sidewalks, cars and despair for influence over men and women. Norman’s songs conjure images of men huddled in bars, lighthouses shining through mist, snow covering a train yard, and wolves prowling a frozen forest.”
— Ken Stroebel, Norwich Bulletin

“On To The Core, singer-songwriter Bob Norman offers up 11 new songs, many of which are observations of life in Manhattan’s urban landscape describing everyday people going about their lives in the big city. In ‘The Night Has Just Begun,’ Norman captures the essence of an early evening scene in Greenwich Village as he describes the various comings and goings unfolding in the corner bar with the ballgame on the TV while a John Coltrane tune plays on the—obviously hip—jukebox. Meanwhile, a movie is being shot on the street outside and the winos sit by the river watching the sunset. In ‘Bottles And Cans,’ Norman assumes the role of a street person who survives by collecting discarded bottles and cans that can be redeemed for their deposits, and in ‘Sammy’s Song,’ he writes about a happy city kid from a father’s loving perspective. In addition to the city songs, there are several drawn from other inspirations. ‘The Wolf In the Frozen Woods’ mourns a childhood friend apparently lost to suicide, and ‘Like A Sailor Sighin’ ’celebrates both the return of the once nearly extinct osprey to Norman’s home town as well as a summer visit there by the singer himself. In addition to his own guitar and harmonica, Norman surrounds himself with various New York musicians such as David Massengill on dulcimer, cellist Abby Newton, and Larry Campbell on fiddle and pedal steel.”
— Mike Regenstreif, Sing Out!

 

Romantic Nights
on the Upper West Side
(NO-101)

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“This is a warm and wonderful bagful of very singable songs. They capture the bittersweet lives of working people in a big city—the people who will not give up hope and love and laughter. It’s hard to find a favorite. I like ’em all—maybe especially ‘Autumn Days.’ Lots of other people are going to be singing these songs.”
— Pete Seeger

“We all think we know New York City from the zillions of TV shows and movies, and to some extent we do… The title track of Bob Norman’s Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side is filled with these familiar images: ‘If you dropped an egg on the street it would’ve fried’… Bob Norman likes to play with us on this CD. We start to listen to a track like ‘La Rosita de Broadway’ and we think of love and romance, then we realize he is singing about a restaurant… ‘Airshaft Blues’ is another track that transports me back in time and space to a New York of the movies with that feeling of heat and excitement… ‘Loft Bed Woman’ is real down-south blues with a sassy line in patter… ‘She sleeps 10 feet off the floor,’ he sings, and then ‘she can rock me with grace, but when we rolled over a little too far I went sailing into space.’ Such is the joy of urban loving. Then he brings us back to the serious side of life. ‘Sanctuary’ is a folk song with social awareness… ‘If it wasn’t for the church that defends us from the law, the agents would send us back to die in El Salvador’… In case you never get to visit New York, buy this album and listen to it in sweltering heat and in searing cold to try to experience that unique place on Earth.”
— Nicky Rossiter, Rambles.net, a cultural arts magazine

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“Greenwich Village resident Bob Norman has released as his debut Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side, a collection of original urban folk music which he wrote over the 20 years he lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Thus the music here is a blend of country, blues, and jazzy Caribbean music. Along with Norman’s guitar and harmonica, the instrumentation includes flute, sax, banjo, fiddle, percussion, cuatro and zanka. This is a well recorded and produced set by the former editor of Sing Out! Magazine, so the guy knows how to write a folk song. In addition to Sing Out!, his songs have appeared in ‘Fast Folk’ and ‘Broadside.’ This album provides a taste of his eclectic mix of music, a mixture that reflects the diversity of The City That Never Sleeps.”
— Paul Graham, Dirty Linen

“The title of Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side tells the theme throughout, but it doesn't prepare you for the rich tapestry of sometimes almost Caribbean rhythms, sounds, and melodies, which include a wide variety of instrumentation, ranging from fiddles and Andean flutes to saxophones and synthesizers. In contrast to the sophistication of the production (which is by no means overdone), the songs have a refreshing sweet quality about them. Each melody lives in your head for days after the stereo is silent, and there is a simplicity in the lyrics that's almost deceptively seductive. These songs fit like friendly slippers after a long day of waitressing alone in a crowded restaurant of ill-tempered customers.”
— Heidi Barton, the Folknik

“Bob Norman's debut album, Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side, is comprised of melodic rhythmic numbers and gentle ballads. Norman’s voice and sound share some qualities with Bruce Cockburn. A former editor of Sing Out! magazine, he is well rooted in the folk process of integrating any aspect of life into song. Subjects include loft love-making, city sounds and smells sensed through an airshaft, and poetic reflections on the sanctuary movement. Norman’s twenty years of living in New York City permeate and unify the music, which is entirely self-composed. Performed with a variety of guitars, vocalists and percussion, it has an acoustic feel, solid and airy.”
— Brian Butler, Victory Music Review

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