The story of Daniel Antopolsky will be familiar to long-time readers of Americana UK. One of the original outlaws, he was a contemporary of Guy Clarke and Townes Van Zandt, with whom he can be seen in the famous ‘porch photo’ taken at Clark’s home in the early 1970s. Legend has it that the character of ‘Lefty’ in Van Zandt’s much loved ‘Pancho and Lefty’ is based on Antopolsky; indeed, Antopolsky was there when the classic song was written and was the first person ever to hear it. After saving Van Zandt’s life in 1972, Antopolsky turned his back on the music industry and travelled the world. He continued writing songs that would be forever linked by his vibrant lyrics to the wonderful places he visited: Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Hawaii, Koh Samui, Laos and Finland. His life was a hippy adventure, songs and lyrics tumbling from him as he wandered. Eventually, Antopolsky settled on a farm in France, where he made his home. Decades would pass before he recorded the songs from his travels. Now, his spare songs feel like a connection to another time and place.
Above all, Antopolsky’s music is joyful, which is perhaps why he didn’t quite fit into the music industry in the 1970s. He has a zest for life, an energy and positivity that is compelling. Lyrically, his songs are often like streams-of-consciousness, sharing a charmingly hopeful view of life. In the case of recent release ‘Pan & Pandora: An Imaginary Tale’, his words are a total fantasy, abstract ideas wrapped in myth and legend. With just his characterful voice and his acoustic guitar, Antopolsky draws us into his fantastical, imaginative world. It was originally written in the Netherlands in 1979 and is now finally shared all these years later.
Antopolsky told AUK about the song: “My first edition of ‘Ballad of Pan’ was penned in a Finnish forest in 1975. Happily (for the chance), it was revised sometime in 2018. Some things change, some beat around the bush, and some remain the same. I reckon the author was foolish, half-way nuts and imagining he would see something out of the ordinary in a pleasant imaginary way. Pan # 1 was all for the flora and fauna. Yet, I was still looking for devas, gnomes, and fairies. After all, Pan was a mythical creature and something still more meaningful had to be done. In the Ballad of the Big Virginian, whose Grandpa traded his fiddle for size 12 boots to a tiny Leprechaun; hence the return of that sort of magical little fellow, who led my imagination on a full-throttled adventure to the land of Pan. So, enough of Pan. We all know he or it was a myth. We need to push the accelerator a little deeper and come up with some more noble idea. So, after the dancing fairies and hitching a ride on the back of a strong and handsome deer who took us to a castle made of light! The little man gave me the keys to Pandora’s mythical box. Wow, I’m glad you asked me to write about that song because now I see that of all the things mentioned being scatter-brained is my prime characteristic. Excuse me but I forgot to mention the name of ‘Pandora’. I mean we’re talking about her box and she made it in the title! Forgive me, dear Pandora. That will be corrected if the chance comes along. The redeeming essence of Pandora’s box was the evils of the world emptied out into all of us, which is quite evident. So, ‘Thank you very much.’ Yet the only remaining element in that box was a message filled with HOPE! Therein lies the meaning and positive gist of the story. Oh yeah, the unicorn was a fit ending. Universally loved, she was so enchanting prancing around that she forgot to jump on Noah’s Boat. After all of this malarkey, rest assured that the unicorn was the only real creature I was privileged to see, if you can believe it? Maybe you’ve seen one also? What can I say about the video? It’s nice when one’s work is appreciated before reaching the age of 175. I am forever touched and grateful.”
‘Pan & Pandora: An Imaginary Tale’ is taken from Antopolsky’s brand new album ‘Old Timey, Soulful, Hippy-Dippy, Flower Child Songs from the Cosmos… Wow! (Unheard Songs of the Early 1970s, Pt. 2)’. Released in December 2022, this collection is the follow-up to a similarly-titled ‘Part 1’ back in 2017 – check out our review here. Alongside the lyric video for ‘Pan & Pandora: An Imaginary Tale’, we also have ‘Put That White Cap On’ as an extra treat from the album. Lose yourself in Daniel Antopolsky’s vivid imagination, listen and drift back through the places he wandered.
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