August 25, 2014
Our basic inspirations become part of what we create ~ I grew up listening to jazz. My mother was a jazz singer, pre-fusion; my uncle was a protest singer, a union organizer; and I grew up listening to Pete Seeger. Billie Holliday was considered a jazz singer but she chose, and even wrote, melodic songs whereas Ella was a vocal saxophone; her vocal style was inspired by those “jazz cats” ~ Billie’s was inspired by melody and emotion. I’m sitting here knowing the music scholars will be rebutting this. It’s okay, I know these things because music is feel...and I know what I feel is true.
When I first began performing, before the term "singer-songwriter" existed, they called me the female Bob Dylan. But now, in my genre, comparisons are inevitable...and it’s always to other female artists. “Why?” I wonder. It’s not a sport where we have men’s basketball and women’s basketball, for obvious reasons. But in music, there shouldn’t be gender boundaries. I’ve written songs well-suited for a man. (No pun intended.)
I read this blog where the writer was acknowledging me with being as good as Joni Mitchell, yet never getting the credit. Thanks, but no thanks. We were both played on the radio and both had what had been termed “novelty hits”. We were both women who wrote songs, and there the similarity ends. She was much more on the jazz side and I was all about melody and folk. We’re totally different singers. Career-wise, I lived in the Northeast and married with children, as far away from schmoozing as possible. She didn’t...and moved to Topanga Canyon.
So, Joni, maybe we should, before we die, get together and have a good laugh about the craziness of this music business and its social inequities.
Instead of comparing me to Joni Mitchell, why not compare me to Randy Newman or Leonard Cohen? And did they ever call Bob Dylan, “the male Melanie”?
For your information, Time Warner has just put out an anniversary boxed set of more performances from Woodstock. I'm in it singing Tambourine Man & personally representing Bob Dylan, I made him a lot of money ;)