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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Indie Anthology 2: essential songs

For my second choice of this peculiar and very personal anthology, a classic. And if you allow me, with a familiar note. A little homage after a tough day at the hospital.

Song: Something On Your Mind
Artist: Karen Dalton 
Year: 1971

Revivalist movements have something good. Sure, there's a lot of copy and "jumping on the bandwagon" of the successful trend, but aside the (very few) good new bands, it makes you recover a lost gem you hadn't heard in ages. That was the case with the neofolk revivalist movement, that brought us back the amazing Karen Dalton.
Well, honestly, Dalton was not really "recovered". It is fair to say she was mostly ignored in her own time. But on a personal level, my father (can't remember exactly where) had this incredible song. Thanks to a proper and deserved remaster of her work in 2006, the tune now has passed to the son.
In his wonderful memories "Chronicles", Bob Dylan referred to Dalton as her favourite singer in the early 60s among the folk troubadours of Greenwich Village, comparing her voice to Billie Holiday's and her guitar style to Jimmy Reed. Her destiny was tragic, releasing only two albums. The debut "It’s so Hard to Tell Who’s Gonna Love You Best”, thanks to Neil Young, in 1969, and, "In My Own Time", in 1971, after being completely forgotten, just to be found dead in the early 90s on the streets of NY, sick and addicted.
Yes, Dalton was a singer and not a composer. But what a singer she was. And yes, "In Your Own Time", the album that opens with "Something On Your Mind" is a collection of covers. But what an incredible collection of covers. What an interpretation. What a magnificent marriage between her vocal warmth with the eternal, extraordinary melody, folk with jazz echoes, sublime, ethereal, celestial. Seems suspended on air.

Dedicated to my father

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