Carla Fuchs has shown me again what a small world we inhabit. A German singer, musician and academic, she and I made contact via Facebook and our shared love of the music of Sandy Denny.
I was then in the south of France and when she asked where in that vast section of the country I was, it turned out to be within a few miles of - and in the same commune as - an old stamping ground of her own.
Here is Carla’s response to my invitation to write about her project - in which Sandy’s daughter Georgia Rose Lucas is collaborating …..
It was a dark autumn night and I was driving home from work through the Black Forest.
I had 100km to go but had forgotten my mp3-Player. So I opened the glove box, groping for a CD. It was Sandy Denny's record Sandy. At that point I had not been listening to her for 15 years and I still have no idea, how that CD entered my car. It was once, before there was YouTube, a present from my bandmate's wife. And I didn't even like the record at that time.
I loved The Final Concert and the way Sandy and her band rocked the stage live. At that time I did not know that the guitars were recorded much later due to a technical problem, but anyway.
Sandy had these overpouring strings. I still think the arrangements she used at solo gigs and on demo tapes were more suitable for her songs.
Jef Aerosol's stunning image, much-used (with his consent) on these pages
But back to where my project started: I listened to the first bars of It'll Take a Long Time and the music took me back to the time when I was a teenager, listening to Sandy for the first time.
Sometimes music has the gift to preserve the feeling of a certain stage of life and in that case it was overwhelming to get back into the feeling of being so young. All the memories linked with the sound of that record, even the smell of my room at that time. And more than that: in having that backflash I realised who I had become. It'll take a long time - and it did.
Suddenly I understood why I always had a hard time listening to sad songs and never really liked them. "There is no need for rules, there's no-one to score the game" - except me. It was exactly that moment when my heart opened for Sandy's voice on another level. I understood something about music and about myself that I had carried along for such a long time and finally I had found the clue.
And I couldn't wait to get home, take my guitar and try one of her songs again.
I realised that something in her voice reminded me of my voice: a nuance, a timbre, it's hard to explain.
That was the moment my project started, without me knowing that it had. I discovered her songs again. For the first time in years I sat at the piano and figured out her harmonies and melodies. I started to check out the nimble gracenotes she does so light-footedly, and her singing technique.
And I decided to go into a dialogue with her, taking singing lessons by recording my voice and then listening to her again. Trying to find my way of adapting the colours and the sustain she is using without imitating her, checking out, how her style of singing is linked to her songs, finding the border between who I am when I interpret her songs and where she guides me, diving into the songs and finding meaning in every syllable.
I forgot about my own first record that I had been working on for seven years until Covid destroyed my existence as a musician. I had been playing all instruments and doing the producing as well, and, until I found me doing something completely different with The songs of Sandy Denny, I had been very sad about that.
Sandy is the master of declamation. Every word is well placed, but her phrases are, like the places where she takes breath, illogical at times. That is so interesting! When I did I‘m a Dreamer I wondered how anyone could ever come to the idea of holding these low notes that long? I recommend listening to the live version of Dreamer on Gold Dust. Considering the fact that she was very tired that evening makes it more astonishing how powerfully she could roar these low notes.
Her effortless way of singing and playing with scrupulously unsentimental emotional and intellectual expression totally challenged me. And as I tried to adapt this character, I realised how hard it is even to come close to a style of singing, where everything is evocation instead of affectation. Honestly, I do not know any other artist who can sing like that.
Sandy‘s songs are encrypted pictures. The meaning between the lines is the silence in her songs, the moment where the listener truly has to open his or her ears to the music. Things that seem obvious on the surface often reveal a new dimension if you take a closer look. Sandy is a wise, sensitive and attentive author. And the mystery of melancholy, the secret of time and the mood of late November has never been captured better than in her songs.
And I think the world needs to know of Sandy‘s work, and her songs need to be sung.
For the first time in my life I entered YouTube and social media with my project, The Songs of Sandy Denny to share my interpretations and my love for Sandy with a worldwide community. Every two or three weeks, there will be new videos of me performing Sandy's music.
Thanks to Facebook, I got in touch with Sandy's daughter Georgia and we are planning a little project together.
Georgia is doing amazing drawings and I came up with the idea, that she could design a poster for The Songs of Sandy Denny and she agreed. Anoher thing we are planning is a video that includes her drawings and my interpretation of one of her mother's songs.
On Dec 19 I will host a Sandy Denny evening with my music students at the university where I teach. The pedagogical aspect of her songs is amazing because they have a lot of difficulties one does not expect on first hearing.
I also have in mind to produce a record, Carla Fuchs singing Sandy Denny, but because I do not have a label, I must first sort out the financing. With luck, recording will take place in the summer of 2022; I'm really curious as to whether there are any musicians who would like to join me for the album or oat my gigs.
As Covid restrictions ease, I look forward to being able to play international gigs and, with my project The Songs of Sandy Denny, making a small contribution to keep the memory of Sandy and her music alive.
Carla Fuchs on herself:
I studied classical music, musicology and German. I work as a clarinet player, choir leader and am a singing teacher at a German university. I also teach guitar, songwriting and music theory.
My love for music and speech led me into songwriting and producing. I am working on my first record and have been making music videos for seven years, doing everything on my own, playing all instruments and recording/producing the clips. For any questions or booking inquiries about requests for booking, please email me
That’s firstname.lastname@example.org if the link does not work.