Leilah's children's book can be ordered now... and let me tell you, she knows kids!
A long long time ago in a place far far away, women wore a thing called a housedress.
"Oh, he came to the door and I was still in my housedress!"
I never questioned the concept. It was a transitional dress; one you wore after you took off your nightgown, performed the morning rituals. And, if you were not going out, you put on your housedress/housecoat. If someone came by I might hear from the next room, “Oh that's a pretty housedress….”
By the time I became old enough to follow suit, things had changed. You went right from your PJ’s into street clothes, dungarees with cuffs rolled up, sneakers.
Or, if it was a school day, a skirt, blouse or shirtwaist dress, penny loafers or saddle shoes. Or maybe white bucks… Oh, and how can you keep white bucks from getting scuffed and dirty?
Some girls could do it. I wasn't one of those.
I grew and grew into a ‘voo-man’ and never had a housedress.
And I don't really know if it qualifies as a housedress, as there isn't a department in the store for them.
Go on, you just go to the store and ask, "Where do you keep your housedresses?” And see what kind of looks you'll get.
Ethel and Lucy were always in their housedresses when they would be sitting at that table with their coffee, planning their next escapade. Invariably, when they put on their street clothes they would also have on a hat. Lucy and Ethel were of the housedress era. I just missed it.
After age 16 I wasn't in the house much. It was all out and about and nightlife! Who had time for transitional dressing? But now, when I get home from the road, I find the walls behind my bedroom door a sanctuary and I find I don't want to leave.
But there is a certain sense of propriety that dictates I get dressed… kinda, sorta, and transitionally.
And I know a lot of other people who might don sweat clothes.
Never been a sweat suit person, maybe it's the name?
And so, learning well from my ancestors, I revisit the housedress.
I wake up, take a bath, have coffee and dress for sanctuary ~
Postscript: Vivian Vance (Ethel) holds a special place in my heart. Before I ever came out with a recording I was in summer stock. One of the shows we did was ‘Gypsy’. Vivian Vance played the mother of Gypsy Rose Lee (Mama Rose).
I was in the cast of strippers ~ Miss Mazeppa.
"Once I was a schleppa, now I'm Miss Mazeppa, but I do it with a horn….”
At the end of the show Vivian Vance gave the whole cast presents. I got a box of scented soap. I saved that box of soap forever. She was the star I had grown up with watching Lucy and Ethel.
I now look back and see an underlying sadness, disappointment in Miss Vivian Vance.
I didn't articulate at the time but now know what she had been going through. She continued and survived after the Lucy show. She would always be Ethel Mertz to everyone, but to me she was the star who was kind and graced me with a gift.
And the thing on their heads. What were they called, did they have a name? All I know is that my mother had a drawer full of silk scarves. With two uses: one to tie around the head like Lucy and Ethel, to hide the bobby pinned "hair" , (I learned early how to "set" my hair and hide it in a silk scarf. No walking around the house with bobby pins showing.)The other use for the silk scarf was, to tie it around your head knotted under the chin a la Audrey Hepburn in movies with her head scarf. Especially useful if you hadn't gotten to set your hair.
I go through a kind of withdrawal. I feel so much more alive out there than in here. And yet I so look forward to coming home and sleeping in my own bed and not having to check out by a certain time, not having to catch a plane or make it to the next venue.
Doing whatever I want.
And now at the deep end of life, given my position in this under utilized to career, my will , outdistancing my condition but just by a little bit. Whatever I want isn't quite as appealing as I think it will be. A songwriter who has survived American culture. I heard say that survival is the new success, I chuckle, not sure if it was out loud, no one to ask except Mushu the cat; she gives no indication as we look at one another I see a cat. I don't know what she sees but it doesn't take into account any of what I've been talking about to be anthropomorphic, she says "so what, this is not my problem nor is it yours " and she's right, the cat is always right.
So I miss you all my dear ones.
The time before last on the road I lost a quarter of my wardrobe, just gone left in a closet at the hotel or in the washing machine of the Airbnb or in a bag that didn't come along. I miss most the red skirt and long tunic top with peasant design at the bottom, cuffs and collar. My friend Jellybean in England gave it to me. I was going to wear it when I met her for the first time.
Maybe Spring of 2019, Spring of the year after next year it will be officially the 50th anniversary (Woodstock at the heels ) of the summer of love ....Woodstock written in smoke and mirrors and Myth -ingness in a Periwinkle sky with white and seaglass colored clouds that are morphing into a million faces with question mark eyes and flame throwing lips.
The faint sound of mankind , a melody , brotherhood, where art thou, the lyrics, they are not in English speak and tell the truth to everything we know to be true. And that all dissolves into next time there's always a next time my dear ones ~see you then
Oh, if you liked this or even if you didn't but it made you think or envision something beautiful, I'll see you at the gathering.
Q & A with Melanie
Q: Brett Greiman: Lay Down is my all-time favorite song and I've always wondered about how you decided to start the song as you did with that first note of the single drum hit. (At least I guess it's a drum). Thanks.
Melanie: Which version? I think the single just started with the chorus. Edwin Hawkins on the piano, a gospel, bam. If it was the other version where I chant at the beginning, well I don't think I thought much about that or decided.
Just came out me.
Q: Wendy Boenning Noll: Now I've asked this before and here I go again...just to clarify what I may or may not remember. Were you at the World's Fair in 1964? And could you have been within ear shot of an African drum band called "Olatunji"?
Melanie: Yes I was at the 1964 Worlds Fair. My mother loved Olatunji. I fell in love with the Lebanese boy, selling caftans. Ah, but he lived so far away.
Q: Jeff Brown Along with lots of other fans I've traveled to many countries to see you. But I've always wanted to go to The Turning Point, New York, when you are there. It always seems such short notice to arrange a trip from London, any chance of longer notice for overseas fans?
Melanie: What a long way to come and see me. Alas no plans for an UK tour as of yet, perhaps December for The Turning Point? Early-ish. Also in the works: LPR, early December?
Be well, look forward to seeing you
Q: Maryann Menichino: Melanie Ann Safka... All stormed out in Florida... question... How did you fair (fare) during these "Cyclones"? And, can you please perform in Daytona Beach? We can sure use some storm relief! I will check out venues if you need me to! Missing you!!! Maryann and friends
P.S. Lori and Jim ask me to say Hello for them!
A: Melanie: Well I'm glad you fared well!
Tell Laurie and Jim I send my love, how did they do?
Oh wait, it's me who's supposed to answer questions, not ask them, right?
Yes let's get me down to Daytona, around January.
Seems like I'm always performing in blizzards in January, it would be good for a change.
Q: Michael Bange: First off I would like to say, I love your music. Do you have any plans for releasing any new music?
A: Melanie: Oh yes I definitely have new songs. It's a matter of time and money :)
Thank you for asking and I hope you'll wait
Q: Pam DeLuca Will your full catalog ever be on cd? Some of my albums are too scratched to play.
A: Melanie: I am working on that. So far I have "Gather Me" on CD for sale at shows. It may come available on Bandcamp.
There are bootlegs and other ways of getting my past recording's on CD: Cherry Red label in the UK has released four or five of my albums, those are sanctioned by me. Everything else is the Wild West. But I would so love to make a boxed set, we couldn't fit all of them into one box but I could pick several of my favorites and begin there.
Q: Mike Dwyer Hi! Happy Day! What's you're middle name?
Actually I'd like to know about your guitar preferences. What brand, model and why.
Also, what is that electric thing Beau Jarred plays? Is it an electric cello?
All the best! Love, hug-thugging, and peace!
A: Melanie: Oh, three-part question. Guitar preference is changing. I'm finding the weight of my Stevens just a bit too much on my neck. I've been back-and-forth switching from the rain song to the Cordova nylon string ,so still in the works!
Two-part questions always make me want to answer the last part first ...Beau Jarred plays a guitar viola, handmade instrument based off the viola de gamba. He plays both an electric and an acoustic.
Tuned like a guitar played with a bow.
Beau Jarred has become quite master at this beautiful instrument. Hm...
Creator is California based, Jonathan Wilson/ Toga Man.
Now what was the first question, oh yes my middle name, someone was bound to ask....Anne
My mother, when she was going to have me christened, believed I needed a saints name so it was Sainte Anne de Beaupre.
I'm just really glad she didn't go with Teresa! That was second runner-up. Sainte Theresa. (Mother Teresa wasn't in the news.)
Or she might've gone with Teresa.
Q: Angela Rogers Pettit Hi Melanie! It's me Angela Rogers Pettit! I was wondering if you were going to still play the Columbus Ohio show nov. 8.. if you are(fingers crossed) where I can get tickets and how much they are going to be.. I call notes.. the place in Columbus Ohio and they said nov. 8 is to far away for them to give me any info.. cause i would like to book my room and get my tickets as soon as possible... thank you so much! Love you so so much.. Angela
A: Melanie: No Angela, I'm so sorry it was put up prematurely and not finalized. Perhaps in the future I will, they are very nice people, and I'm hoping I can do that date in the future. I might be doing the Columbus Ohio date on 7 December. Still up in the air. Love, Melanie
Nov 04 Hurdy Gurdy Folk Music Club Fair Lawn, NJ
Nov 10 Green Wood Coffee House Ann Arbor, MI
Nov 14 Shank Hall Milwaukee, WI
I've created it and that IS the reason I create it. A song, a poem, an essay or a painted rock~sometimes an exceptional meal (I love to cook ).
The creation is the "why" I have created it...
Then the creative process is over....what next? what next.. And there you are staring at me or not staring at me. Turning your backs, maybe , or not looking at all . Glancing over the distance for something else.
So here I am, post creation and I'm looking out for you and hopefully, we make eye contact...Join