Friday, February 03, 2012

GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! Week -- Episode Five: She's Just Gone Solo

[I originally posted the following in these precincts back in early 2007, but if you missed it -- heh -- or even if you didn't, it seems like the perfect way to end an interesting week. In any case, I stand by the sentiments, and it's safe to say that, since this first ran, no voice has yet moved me quite as much as Sandy's.]

All kidding aside, there are times when I find myself thinking that the late Sandy Denny was the greatest girl singer in history. Certainly, nobody else has ever been able to go from heartbreakingly vulnerable to pin-you-against-the-wall regal within the space of a single line like her.

I have a regrettable tendency to throw the word "goddess" around promiscuously, but Denny was the real deal. The sad thing is that had she been a teeny bit more conventionally attractive -- by which I mean skinny -- she would have been a superstar on the order of Linda Ronstadt.

These dark musings were inspired by stumbling across the following video on YouTube the other night. It's pretty much her signature song (of the autobiographical variety) and it's a document from a 1974 small club tour she did with a particularly nice incarnation of Fairport Convention; the lineup is the three Daves (Pegg, Swarbrick and Mattacks), plus her hubby Trevor Lucas and the brilliant guitarist Jerry Donahue.

I saw a show on theat tour from pretty much the same audience perspective as whoever shot this clip, and I must say that seeing this after all the years was a moment beyond Proustian.

BTW, if you have the disposable income, there's a 3 CD Denny box set you really need to get, if only for the spine-tingling duet version of the Everly's "When Will I Be Loved" with Linda Thompson. As Cameron Crowe famously said of something else, you still can't buy a better album.

Update: One of the saddest things about Denny's way-too-early death in 1977 was that she had a barely seven month old daughter. Hubby Lucas died of a heart attack in 1989, and I'd always wondered what happened to the kid. I'm happy to report that a Google search just turned up the fact that Georgia Lucas gave birth to Sandy's grandchildren -- two beautiful twins, apparently -- in 2001.


Marcellina said...

Thanks for this. I don't think I had ever heard her singing.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Yes, yes,yes, and yes.

Sal Nunziato said...

I couldn't agree more...with everything...except, I don't think she could have been a superstar, weight issues notwithstanding.

She was too good. She made every performance and every song, good or bad material, something to pay attention to. That is just too demanding for the masses.

NO one like her.

edward said...

Thank god she never became a Linda Ronstadt. I dread to think what the industry star machine would have done to her.

steve simels said...

She actually was that level of a star in the UK. I think the year she guested on the Led Zeppelin album, she won "Best Female Singer" in the New Musical Express poll. Or maybe it was Melody Maker.

Gummo said...

She was wonderful.

And I think it was just that everything she did, even her original songs, were too grounded in traditional English folk music, to make much of an impact here.

Anonymous said...

Chrissie, Evie & Sandy! What a wonderful way to end the week of Girls, Girls, Girls!!!!

Do this again sometime soon!!!


GLLinMO said...

Last of the week? Hmmmm. Somewhat bummed that Marti Jones was not included. Dunno - maybe not power pop enough. On my top female artist list. Maybe next time.

JZ said...

I love Fairport Convention period, so obviously I love Sandy. Their version of Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine" might be my all time favorite song, it's just breathtaking to hear.

The last year of Sandy's life was horrible. Her marriage fell apart, which lead to her drinking and drugging herself silly.This no doubt contributed to the fall down the steps at her parents house that would lead to her death a few weeks thereafter.