The Swinging and Singing Lumberjack of the Old Northeast
Chopping down nineteenth-century musical traditions with lyrical might, Larry Gorman’s satirical protest songs won him fervent fans—and spiteful enemies.
Illustration by Guy Wagner
Long before Spotify, television, or even the radio, before electronic devices enhanced the power and scope of the human voice, there was a man whose songs spanned thousands of miles and multiple generations. Larry Gorman — “The Man Who Made Songs,” as he came to be called throughout the woodlands of Maine, New Brunswick and the Maritime Provinces of Canada — was born on July 10, 1846. He began to spin songs during his early twenties, diverging from the general folksong tradition that forged community and stirred from a desire to be accepted and liked by one’s neighbors. From the very beginning, Gorman focused on topics like wealth and politics, but he was best known for his insult-driven lyrics directed at those who slighted him. He was a feared satirist with songs so effective that on many occasions he was driven from towns for his derisive music making.
Gorman spent his life traveling through the Northeastern lumber channels until he finally settled in Maine…