Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Melanie.

I've been uploading to youtube some video clips of my friend Molly Venter -- I'll share them when they're ready -- who reminds me, at least her voice, of Melanie. Most people I think only know Melanie from "Brand New Key," her big novelty hit, or possibly "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," the song she wrote about Woodstock, but she wrote and recorded and performed for years and years (and may still be out on the road -- I know she was touring a few years ago with her daughters who have a band).

She likes old timey instruments and arrangements, which gives her songs sometimes a music hall vaudeville-ish sound. Some of her songs are silly -- on her live recordings, she seems to love making the audience laugh -- some are a bit maudlin, others are serious, poetic, introspective. (Reading back over that last sentence, I realize that all those elements were part of the sixties folk revival that she was a big part of.) But then, over and against all those elements is that voice that seems to just spill from her heart undiluted. Patti Griffin does it. And Molly Venter does it, too.

"Peace Will Come" was on a K-Tel compilation that my brother and I got in the early 70s -- the single version starts with only a plaintive vocal and I think accordion and builds to a full orchestration with all sorts of odd instruments and layers of vocals (all her). I used to listen to it over and over because it made me cry. I didn't even really know what it was about, still don't, but something about the sonic quality of it would go right to my tear ducts.

I had no idea who she was or what else she did and I guess no curiosity about it until many years later. I still think it's a mysterious and moving song.

And this clip of "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," I can't even find words for how happy it makes me to find this.

1 comment:

bat chain pullover said...

Wow. It's 8am and I am having a coffee before leaving for work and am sitting here watching Melanie and crying my eyes out! I LOVE that song and have a similar history of loving it yet knowing little about it and finding most people never heard of it or her. Moving, mysterious, heartfelt, extraordinary. When I get home, I plan to visit youtube and listen to some of her other stuff. Never knew until today her last name was Safka! Thanks for that!