Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Encounters With Greatness (An Occasional Series)

Okay, the video below is of course, the 1972 smash "Brand New Key" by Woodstock phenom Melanie, a record that today may strike you as either charmingly proto-feminist or deeply irritating on a purely aural level. In any case, therein lies a tale.

Before we get to that, I should add that although her music has never been particularly to my taste, I think she's on balance quite a bit better than her rep as a hippie relic suggests. Yeah, I found her irksome back in the day, but several of her songs (including "Key", I think) are pretty sharp, and the fact is she was the first woman singer/songwriter to set up her own successful indie record label, which makes her a pioneer worthy of respect from the rest of us sentient mammals, not to mention Ani DiFranco.

Okay, that said, cut to mid-80s Manhattan. I'm having dinner with some trendoid friends at a then fashionable yuppie joint when one of my culinary companions returns from the ladies room with a pleasant looking if unassuming woman (unknown to me) who is introduced as "my new best friend Melanie."

I shook her hand and then -- for no other reason than to be a fricking wiseguy -- I allowed how I particularly liked her 1972 smash hit "Brand New Chastity Belt."

At which point I realized that it was, in fact, THE Melanie.

She was not amused, in case you were wondering, but I'm assuming that by now she's gotten over it.


dave™© said...


Actually, I prefer her "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain" with the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Great song!

Sal Nunziato said...

I hsve Melanie right here, and she is NOT over it.

steves said...

She never struck me as a particularly "serious" artist.

But screw her if she can't take a joke.

Anonymous said...

melanie?? ughh

Brooklyn Girl said...

She did songs that were in the "First Time I Heard It I Kinda Liked It But Halfway Through The Second Hearing I Was Ready To Stick Pencils In My Ears" category.

Well, okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit. I mean, she's not as bad as James Blunt.

TMink said...

"she's not as bad as James Blunt."

Well said, and by some perspectives, her head shaking vibrato should be. I think she presents herself as less insuferable whilst performing.


MBowen said...

I was so young when this came out that I didn't even realize that it was kinda dirty.

TJWood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.