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November 02, 2008

Comments

Ed Grummitt

Colin, two memories of Sandy Denny, both within a couple of weeks of each other in 1973! I've told these before so pardon the boredom quotient.

The first one is thanks to Steve Ashley. Steve had the idea of a club which would showcase songwriting talent, and got Heather Wood and Anthea Joseph on board. Steve rang Richard Thompson and he agreed to be a resident, roping in his then wife Linda, Simon Nicol, the Dransfields, and Lea Nicholson. I think it was Richard who contacted Sandy - she agreed to do the first night at the New Merlin's Cave - not a bad songwriter to catch!

I spotted an ad in the Melody Maker for the first night and a couple of us immediately grabbed tickets, which I think were around ten bob in real money. We duly rolled up to the fairly shabby boozer the next Tuesday night, and wandered into the back room, where we were the first punters in! We were confronted with our goddess in human form wearing jeans and playing darts with Peter Knight and others. Sandy clocked us coming in, gave us a grin (collapse of Ed) and burst out laughing when her arrow fell to the floor.

Sandy was absolutely brilliant that night, singing like an angel and managing not to fall over her piano, cables and mic stands. She also premiered many of the songs later to appear on "An Old Fashioned Waltz".

Around the same time Sandy also did a gig at Roy Guest's Howff - tickets for this cost ONE POUND! Roy had pulled out all the stops, and a Steinway grand appeared, together with lots of candles and scrubbed (sort of) tables. We found ourselves at the same table as Al Stewart and friends, right in front of the stage. I remember Roy Guest reading poems by Dylan Thomas as a support act.

This gig has gone down as maybe the best concert Sandy ever did, and I'm not about to argue. She was among friends again, and this turbocharged her confidence and her performance. "Solo" had lots of us in tears. As I've said elsewhere, the concert was recorded on a Revox - where are the tapes?

Ever since that night, I've regretted that I didn't congratulate Sandy afterwards, but just sneaked out into the night. Ain't life a solo eh?

Tasha

(as posted at Talkawhile Tasha)........

I am unfortunately too young to have memories of Sandy in any other way than on record. But thanks to my parents i grew up listening to her voice. As a small child I thought that Sandy was a fairy as her voice was magical to me. I'm not sure where i got the idea from but i think it was partly to do with the indistinct image on the cover of Liege and Lief and the fact that i was 7 and was getting letters in tiny script from the tooth fairy.The tales she sang about were magical and were about faeries so she must have been one right?

I continued to love Sandy. I remember vividly the heart stopping moment when i heard that Sandy was dead. I was 15 time and swore I would go to Cropredy to walk in her footsteps one day...

Bill

Unfortunately for me, being a Fairport fan for more years than I care to remember, I only saw Sandy once live with Fairport and I have a feeling that was in Bath in late1969/70? Things were definitely a bit vague at that time because there was just so much going on. Oddly enough, I have an odd-ish tale to relate regarding Fairport. I attended a memorial do for Jonah Jones at the Half moon in Putney 3 or 4 years ago and while my wife and I were chatting to Ralph McTell & Simon Nicol when Dave Pegg came bounding over and said to me "Hi, great so see you after all this time, glad you could make it!" and then bounded off to the dressing room, this seemed to impress Simon & Ralph so I said nothing. Later I said to the wife, "I wonder who the hell he thought I was!"..Magic. I remember vaguely Fairport's van crashing after a gig in the midlands somewhere and I believe that there were a couple of people who died. Was Sandy Denny in the van at that time? What was the name of the girl she replaced? Simon also remembered a night in 1970 or 71 when The Van Dyke club in Plymouth was raided by the cops when they were playing there...a fabulous night and a good laugh - they found nowt! :O)

Sorry there's not so much about Sandy but I have to say she had a fabulous voice - the one that I always thought she was dead sexy on was the one she sang in French with the plates smashing at the end...Si Tu Dois Partir - if you Got to go? Anyway, I hope the album if a great success!

Bonnie

..and this was is borrowed from Mudcat, where Bonnie Shaljean, a winner in the Maddy Prior competition, posted it:


I always loved her songwriting, and for my money The Attic Tapes captured some of her best performances ever, because of their simplicity and clarity. Just Sandy and piano, without Trevor Lucas' glutinous overdubs that so often marred the commercial recordings. No pressures, this is just a demo, right? The fiercely self-critical Sandy in relaxed mode for once, maybe.

I know I've said this before in some thread or other, but: grab a listen to the demo version of Rising For The Moon which is just voice and her own piano accompaniment. It has an underlying intensity that I much prefer to the more light-hearted version on the finished album. The contrast in rhythms is striking, perhaps because she didn't have a drumkit and was working with only a metronome, or possibly because in the demo she was both playing an instrument AND singing. In any case, the solo effort is darker-toned, driven by a different beat, and for me this makes the song more poignant (especially when you read how torn she was over having to leave her not-always-faithful lover behind while she toured abroad and coped with the demands of her success.) Clinton Heylin's biog No More Sad Refrains is a must-read for anyone who has even a passing interest in this hugely talented and sorely-missed lady.

Diane Easby

My most vivid memory of Sandy Denny is from Les Cousins at one of the legendary all-nighters sometime in the mid 60s. I was sat on the stool in front of the single mic with my Levin, hair flopping over my eyes, about to embark on one of her songs as I was wont to do when she wasn't there. But catching sight of her coming down the steps caused the most rapid switch of song choice in musical history.

Several years later, I was working at Cecil Sharp House when various members of Fairport took to dropping by to research material for Liege & Lief. Who knew that making coffee for this crowd of scruffs and "helping" assistant librarian Clive Woolf (who rightly got the sleeve credit) to dig out tune versions would result in that seminal album? I didn't.

A few years even later, I too was at that Howff gig complete with Steinway. I was writing for the Morning Star by then and got in with a comp. But why, oh why didn't I record it? Oh well, it's all there in my head.

Mr. L

My most vivid Sandy memory is, stating that her voice 'really didn't do much for me' - and immediately being shouted down and ridiculed...!! :)

Folkiedave

Folkiedave's posting at Mudcat......
\

No memories - though I was old enough (!!) but I would like to recommend the record. I have played three tracks - and will over time play the rest. Not a weak track on the record. Some are stronger than others though!

My own two favourites are John the Gun and Wild Mountain Thyme.

Bonnie

Bonnie Shaljean wrote at Mudcat:

Judging by what I can gather from the Heylin biog, their (first?) American tour reads like something out of either Dante's Inferno or Monty Python, depending on how black your sense of humour is: unconfirmed dates, unsigned contracts, cancelled concerts, non-existent interviews & press coverage, ripoffs, soul-destroying support gigs where they were thankful if the audience merely ignored them, staggering back to England having earned about four pence.

At one point the band weren't even allowed backstage access because no one had thought to provide them with door passes, and their entrance was blocked by a security guard with roughly the build of King Kong. So pint-sized Sandy, having Had Enough, hauled off and hit him. Not the ideal solution to the problem, but one can sure sympathise.

She's quoted as saying, "If this is what it means to get three thousand people to come and listen to you, I'd rather go and play to my best friends."


RISING FOR THE MOON

Sandy Denny

I travel over the seas and ride the rolling sky
For that's the way it is, that is my fortune
There are many ears to please
Many people's love to try
And every day is begun rising for the moon

There's a heart in every place
There's a tear for each farewell
For that's the way it is, that is my fortune
I'll lure you like the lace
That the wayward gypsies sell
With the sinking of the sun, rising of the moon

Rising for the moon
The sun has set and it is dark
But the star of the enchanted tune
Is bright as any spark
The chorus of the dusk
Regales the evening lark
Whose every day does start
Rising for the moon

Ian

Didn't learn about Sandy and her music till I was 21 (with the release of the WKWTTG Box Set). I was (understandably I'm sure) enthralled. Still am.

My story is about my discovery over the coming year, as I explored the recordings, that she and Fairport had played the Sydney Opera House - the first time a band of that natutre had played the SOH.

At that time it would have been a big thing for a folk/rock band to have played there and an even bigger thing for my parents to have been able to afford taking their ten year old son to ANY SOH gig, let alone a Fairport one. I'm sure that even if they had been fans and did take me as a ten year old I would have been perplexed by the decision and not so appreciative of the music.

But of course that wasn't what 21 year old me thought when I learned of the gig. I was APPALLED that they hadn't foreseen my later interest and not put all the family savings into taking me.

They're still perplexed at my unreasonable 11-years-late demand they should have taken me to one of those gigs. It would have been my only chance to see her sing live, and I do regret not having had that experience, even if ten year old me mightn't have understood the significance of it at the time. :-(.

Pete Sixsmith

Never saw her as she rarely, if ever, ventured into South West Durham. But she had a gorgeous voice and a wonderful earthy chuckle which can be heard on a couple of tracks on a box set I bought in 1992. A real star; how would she fare today amidst the Lisa Knapp's Ruth Notman's and Kate Rusby's? A duet with Eliza Carthy would be interesting. "Farewell, Farewell" from Liege and Lief is the track that does it for me. That one will be played just before I roll down the conveyor belt, followed by Talking Heads and "I'm On the Road To Nowhere".

Philip Ward

Thanks for your kind words about my blog, Colin. In a post last year I tried to formulate what Sandy’s music means to me and my recollections of first encountering her extraordinary voice. Too long to quote here but as a contribution to the ‘collective reminiscence’ you’ll find it at: http://sandydenny.blogspot.com/2007/12/sites-of-memory-sites-of-mourning.html

Es Chorlton

I saw Fotheringay at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester and throughout the concert a few loudmouths were calling out 'Banks of the Nile' between every number. When they got to the end of a fantastic set the band still hadn't played it but it was obvious they were going to get an encore. The yells for Banks of the Nile got louder and more insistent. "OK " said Sandy, "Do you want Banks of the Nile then?" The shouts of approval were deafening. "Righto" she said and the whole band launched into a brilliant full belt version of Chuck Berry's 'Memphis Tennessee'. Folk Rock it wasn't and we never got to hear Banks of the Nile but it was one of the funniest things I saw anyone do at a concert

Colin

Still time to enter (see note about deadline at top pf article)

But thanks to all who have contributed here, directly or indirectly, to this little exercise. Some great stories and, while it is not really an entry and he's got Sandy CDs coming out of his ears anyway, Philip Ward's link (two messages above this) is well worth following. Moving and elegant, it is as he describes it - "what Sandy’s music means to me and my recollections of first encountering her extraordinary voice" - and deserves to be read.

Tom Bliss

I did see Sandy with the Fairport line-up which included Trevor and Jerry at Leeds Uni in 74. Chatting to Jerry at the F2 launch in Huddersfield he claimed to remember the gig too. I was actually very moved by Jerry's interview with Karl Dallas at the launch. The recording was made so long ago, and there has been so much pain since that the new album is wonderfully life-affirming - as well as damn fine music. Well done to Jerry, Gerry and Pat. I'm sure Trevor and Sandy approve wherever they are. Tom

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