Sunday, June 1, 2008

Boats: Trawlerman's Song



Vashti Bunyan: Trawlerman's Song

[purchase]

There was a side-bar discussion recently among the SMM authors regarding the fact that very few female artists have been featured on this blog (until now I think Joni Mitchell and Natalie Merchant are the only ones). I don't think this is a big deal. For whatever reason, 85% of my own library is by male artists. I don't begrudge this, and I'm not at all interested in equal opportunity purchasing or listening. However, the discussion did introduce a challenge of sorts. Just for fun, I immediately started searching my iTunes library for a female who sang something about boats!

[Correction:  We've posted a lot more females than I thought!  See comments below.]

Vashti Bunyan is that female. Bunyan's story is actually quite interesting. She recorded a single album, Just Another Diamond Day, in 1970. It was received warmly at the time, but quickly fell out of the public eye and went out of print. Soon after, Bunyan retired from the music business and became a mother, a gardener, and animal keeper. However, during her retirement a quiet but steadily-growing interest began to develop for her work. Her album, difficult to come by for obvious reasons, eventually became a high-priced collectors item - one copy selling on eBay for $2000!

Finally, Just Another Diamond Day was re-released on CD and Vashti Bunyan's fame began to soar among folk and "freak-folk" artists and fans. Devendra Banhart is her most outspoken fan, naming her as one of his most direct influences.

Although she has now released a second CD, coming about 30 years after the first, I would recommend avoiding it and sticking with the original.

Just Another Diamond Day is one of the most melodic and bucolic albums that I own. It is less like listening to a CD and more like wandering through the countryside and happening on a woman sitting on a fence with a guitar singing for her own pleasure, or perhaps for children or her livestock.  Every song is an intimate experience with the artist.

16 comments:

boyhowdy said...

Nice as always, BWR -- bucolic is a great word, and apt as hell here. Great to see the gang taking this feminist's call to arms seriously, too.

I also thought VB's newer album was a disappointment. But though it's not for everyone, I will say that the delicate intimacy you cite is there in spades in the new school of Freak Folk who cite Vashti Bunyan as inspiration and muse.

I hate to toot my own horn, but since it's so timely, those interested in learning more about the new wave of Freak Folk can learn more here.

boyhowdy said...

PS: Looking over the archives, I see that I also posted a Patty Griffin rarity for our Cities theme a while back, buried a Nina Simone cover in a post on Leonard Cohen's Suzanne for our Little Black Book theme, and dropped a bonus cover from Lucy Kaplansky in my more recent 1984-themed post on Bill Morrissey's Texas Blues.

It seems my own record collection, like the folkworld itself, leans just slightly towards the female vocalists and songwriters. I suspect folk music is an anomaly among genres, though.

boyhowdy said...

Oooh! And here's one Matt put up, though the song is no longer live: Rickie Lee Jones' Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most.

That puts us at an average of one female singer per theme...

Paul said...

And we average about 25-30 posts per theme, so that ain't bad!

boyhowdy said...

Whoops! And YOU posted one of my favorite Gillian Welch songs for the Little Black Book theme, too, bwr!

Paul said...

We love the ladies here at SMM!

Scott said...

and for the record, I've posted Nancy Sinatra, Doris Day, Joan Baez, and Emmylou Harris. And Low, which is 50/50. So there!

Paul said...

We need to start posting more MALE artists to balance this thing out!!!

boyhowdy said...

LOL. I stand corrected. Bring on the testosterone!

bwrice said...

Holy crap! I spoke way to soon. Bring on the men!

Paul said...

Also featured recently: Sade, Chrissie Hynde, Freakwater!!, MAMMAS and Pappas, X (Excene), Jann Brown, Blondie, Last Town Chorus, Nico, The Carter Family, Petra Haden, Lisa Loeb, 'Til Tuesday, and Margo Guryan (the FIRST post at SMM), plus we posted lots of pictures of females in the Little Black Book series (not to mention the song names).

I'd say we are in compliance.

Paul said...

And I can't spell MAMAS and papas.

bwrice said...

Note to self: Research before opening mouth on blog that is read by hundreds of people.

Paul said...

That's OK. Nobody reads the comments.

boyhowdy said...

Except us, of course.

Matt said...

Just so it's noted, my personal m>f ratio for posting is near 2:1, at this point. (21:9, I think is exact), so I recuse myself from whatever gender bias has been infer'd.