Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

Lay It On Down

On Friday I added to my collection of Woodstock performers, bagging Melanie at the Jazz Café. If only I'd been around over the Bank Holiday weekend I could have snapped up Johnny Winter too - I expect he'll pass this way again soon.

I went knowing only the drippy-dippy 'Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)', inspired by Woodstock and epitomising everything that people who hate hippies hate about hippies, and 'Brand New Key', once banned for supposed sexual content and best known nowadays thanks to the Wurzels' pastiche 'Combine Harvester'.

The support act was a nice young Latin American-looking man, who came on stage and told us he'd be doing four pieces, and this was a new technique he'd developed on a car journey to New York, he thought it was, and he didn't think anyone had ever played like this before, and it was very exciting...and then his manager called over "Beau? You should tell them you're Melanie's son."

"Oh, yeah. Hi, I'm Melanie's son!"

We cheered.

He played four classical pieces very well, ending by playing his guitar while holding it above his head, then we waited for his ma to appear.

Melanie had a shirt covered in tiny mirrors, a glittery hairband, and wonderful hair like a Bearded Collie. Her voice is powerful and deep, very different nowadays from the squeaking high notes of 'Brand New Key', but not too tuneful, and she sounds strangely like Marlene Dietrich when she sings though not at all when speaking.

Perhaps because I'm not really a fan, I wasn't wowed by the material or the singing; in fact only my dedication to Project Woodstock kept me there beyond the interval. Frankly, she lost me when she declared "They used to call me the female Bob Dylan...well, maybe Bob Dylan was the male Melanie." WRONG.

I did enjoy, and how proud they seemed of each other. I always like to hear tales of the sixties, too, so on the whole I enjoyed the spoken interludes more than the music - especially her impression of how a fictionalised movie of her life would go, complete with nervous breakdown live onstage: "And I'm going no, Sid, let go (there's always a Sid) - I'm fine, Sid, I just want to be with my friends - and it could happen tonight, this could be the night!"

In spite of myself, I grudgingly liked singing "Lay down, lay down, lay it on down. Let your white birds smile at the ones who stand and frown" with the rest of the crowd at the end (though not as much as I relished doing the Fish Cheer with Country Joe). I was only sorry that, modern fire regulations being what they are, we couldn't actually have candles.
Tags: gigs, woodstock

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