Ring The Living Bell: A Collection


  You Could Have Had Me For A Nickel

  Any Time At All

  Beautiful People

  Every Breath You Take

  Life Will Not Go Away

  Racing Heart

  Sun And Moon

  Natural Man (San Bernadino)

  Candles In The Rain

  Perceive It

  Long Long Time (Rehearsal & Song)

  Freedom Knows My Name

  Live Coal

  Ring Around The Moon

  How Can I Help You Say Goodbye

  Long Train Runnin'


Cary White
Safka add Lyrics: Jess Leary

ASCAP Two Story Pub.
BMI Sony/ATV Songs LLC Maclen Music
ASCAP Bienstock Pub./Jerry Leiber Music/Mike Stoller Music
ASCAP Illegal Songs Inc.
ASCAP Two Story Pub. Inc
ASCAP Two Story Pub.
ASCAP Neighborhood Music Inc /April Music
ASCAP Two Story Pub.
ASCAP Bienstock Pub./Jerry leiber Music/Mike Stoller Music
ASCAP Neighborhood Music Inc./April Music
ASCAP Two Story Pub. Inc./Loose Angel Music
ASCAP Two Story Pub.
ASCAP Two Story Pub
BMI KT Good Music/WBM Music/Burton B Collins Pub /Reynsong Pub.
BMI Warner-Tamerlane Pub


  Someday I'll Be An Old Record

  Look What They Done To My Song

  Missing You


  Close To It All


  Friends And Company


  Brand New Key

  Peace Will Come


  Ruby Tuesday

  The Nickel Song

  Ring The Living Bell session


Safka add.Lyrics: Jess Leary
Cheryl Wheeler

ASCAP Two Story Pub./Loose Angel Music

ASCAP Bienstock Pub./Jerry Leiber Music/Mike Stoller Music

ASCAP Fallwater Music Inc /Markmeem/WB Music/Alley Music Corp.

ASCAP Two Story Pub

ASCAP Bienstock Pub./Jerry Le ber Music/Mike Stoller Music

BMI Island Music Inc.

ASCAP Two Story Pub.

ASCAP Two Story Pub.

ASCAP EMI/April Music MCA Inc.

ASCAP Bienstock Pub./Jerry Le ber Mus c/Mike Stoller Music

ASCAP Amachrist Music/Penrod and Higgins Music ACF Music Croup

BMI Abkco Music Inc.

ASCAP Two Story Pub

ASCAP Two Story Pub.

Bonus Cut By SAFKA

  One Mistake


Leilah and Jeordie Schekeryk

ASCAP Two Story Pub.



On April 18, 1999, I had a very entertaining conversation with Melanie. Most of you holding this CD think you already know her, either through personal experience or through her music. Your perception is accurate. She is forthright, funny, introspective and honest. And she likes to talk.
Before I could get my first question in, she was apparently answering one of her own! Enjoy!

Melanie: You know, what I want to do is a coffee table book with all the brilliant album cover concepts over the years, because with each album you come up with at least 20 ideas you know, and they all get scrapped, but would make a nice coffee table book, with all these mystical albums, the ones that don't actually exist. But I see some things on me and I think, "my God, who is this person?" I think they used Grace Slick once on an album cover of me. I really mean it!
Mark: In fact, on a reissue package from a few years ago, there's one shot where you look more like Rhoda Morganstern, you know, where you've got the kerchief on over your head. Anyway, for fans that have not been kept up to date, what have you been doing the last couple of decades?

Melanie: Well, that's such a strange question, because I'm involved in what I do and I'm just doing it and I think I'm really busy. I get asked that question a lot, you know, "Where have you been?" And I've been here. The only thing is I haven't had a high visibility, I haven't had any PR company working for me, I've just been independent and working. I'm a working legend.


Mark: While we're on the subject of going back, how do you view the world since Woodstock? I'm only six years younger than you. Did our generation live up to your hopes and expectations?

Melanie: No, in a word. I truly believe, well, the thing that's different about me compared to some cynical types is I didn't get very cynical. I do believe that people will rise to an occasion.

I think that the war was an occasion but there was a spirit that was amassing even before the war. It was sort of a spiritual awakening or something. At least for me it was. I thought I invented the 60's, by the way. I was living in Long Branch, New Jersey and I was the only beatnik. It was before hippies. I had moved from New York, just in time for high school. It was a strange experience. I became known as this radical I was the person in the sandals, Indian moccasins, boots, or barefoot. I was just the freak, the only one. And so l thought I was the only one in the whole universe. I thought high school was The Universe, but when people get out they realize it's not. Anyway, I was the first freak that I knew. And I thought that I must be crazy because they sent me to the school psychologist in my third year of high school. I don't know why, I don't even know why. To me, It was, "I'm cool everybody else is not". And they said yes, that's what a true crazy person is. Everybody else is crazy, I thought I was the only sane one. At one point, I realized I wasn't the only person having these feelings, you know. My God, we're in this together.


We're the family of man and what hurts one person hurts everybody. Karma and all this stuff started coming from everywhere. I figured that everybody wearing long hair and dressing a certain way with love beads, and anything that was individualistic, I thought, "that is a person who is a kindred spirit".


And early on in the 60's l realized that wasn't true. There was a lot of posing going on, but there always is. To some people it was no more than a fashion trend and a great excuse to get promiscuous, do drugs and do things that were not cool. I believed humanity was in for the big Renaissance. There was never going to be a war again and people were going to get sane and they were going to follow their hearts and do the thing that felt right. What happened is people became reactionaries to the 60's. And I'm going "what is going on, has everyone gone mad?" And I just continued doing what I did and I said "well screw it, I'm not going to try to become something that I'm not". I figured I was successful in doing this thing and people like it. I know they still do, they always did, and they always will. Whether I sing to 500 people or 500,000, it's not really important.

Mark: True. Speaking of that, you've got some great new songs on this collection that mix social commentary and humor much in the way Brand New Key, The Nickel Song, or Look What They've Done To My Song do. Obviously, music has changed dramatically since you first recorded, yet your songs remain timeless. What's your secret?


Melanie: I don't know, I do this mental exercise, and it's just for my own fun. I always think of things like "how is this going to look"? When I used to see the rock bands when everybody had long hair, I used to picture what these guys would look like when they're 50. And I would laugh. It would be funny to think about the Rolling Stones performing and how they would look. I didn't foresee that the industry and the media were going to make it look ridiculous. I think of my songs sometimes, like, is this forever? Is what I do someday going to be dated? You know what I'm talking about... the embellishments. Say we recorded certain records and they sound very 70's or very 60's. I even recorded a very 80's and I thought I was being myself. You can't help but getting sucked into some of the sounds...
the trendy 80's sax solo. You hear these things back and think "wow, that has a hint of 80's. I can't believe I actually got sucked into that". I don't really feel so much entrenched in time. I'm just all over the place as far as....

Mark: It's true, you started out and things were a little more folky, and then it moved to pop and rock. And you kept up with it.

Melanie: Oh, yeah. I'm a belter and I hate just holding back or anything so I've felt maybe I'm a rock-n-roll singer. I didn't care what it was called. I was hoping the music was transcending style. All the people who are big and stay that way sort of follow a formula. As soon as I found a formula, I would say, what else can I do? What can I do that's so totally different that nobody's going to like it who liked me before. A negative as far as building a career,

Mark: "How many fans can I lose"?

Melanie: Right. And I've gotten that from so many record company presidents. They would have me in their office and say "You know Melanie, we have this Brand New Key now, can we do another one like that?


Instead of these other things that are kind of introspective and kind of deep. And I wouldn't even know how to talk to that because that wasn't why I was doing it. I mean, I like the success, and I really didn't totally want to throw it all away but my main motivation wasn't money or marketing. It's funny. Now performers including my own two girls have a very strong sense of who their audience is and I never had that. I always felt I could sing to any age group or any kind of person. I sang at punk festivals, and people would say "oh, my God, what is she doing at this"? Somehow, you get out there and it's the common denominator that you're singing to. I wasn't out to please my peers. I was more out to please the people who were paying for it. I still get ridiculously nervous before a show, even though I know everybody in the audience is my fan. I'm like, stupidly nervous.

Mark: Even after all these years?

Melanie: People say you've been doing this for 30 years, are you still nervous? I get ridiculous. I'm very serious. I feel like this could be my very last performance on this earth. This might be the very last time I go for that note.

Mark: Well, that's pretty cool, because the audience always gets a great performance, if you think of it that way.

Melanie: Yeah, it's hell on me, though. I just look at some of the other veterans who can eat a pizza, drink a beer and walk out on stage. I would get sick. I don't eat for hours before I go on stage. I can't even swallow, it's that bad.

Mark: That's funny, because you could do anything and your audience would love you anyway, and you know that. There's almost nothing you could do to screw it up.

Melanie: You know, there's 500 in the room, but maybe there are two who have never heard my music . . .and that's probably who I'm thinking about when I'm nervous. And they don't know anything about me. And I don't want to come out, I make sure I pronounce every word in case nobody's ever heard this song before. It's new to them. Also, when you do a song over and over and over, you have to find something new in it all the time.

Mark: For example, James Taylor.
You gotta figure that after 30 years and thousands of performances, he's not always so inspired to do Country Road or Fire And Rain, so he changes it around, puts a couple of seventh chords and augmentations in to try and keep it fresh for himself and the fan who just forked over $75.00 to hear him play it.

Melanie: Yeah, just something to keep it thrilling. The newest addition keeping stuff thrilling is my son Beau. He is really creative. . .so many great ideas. He can do anything he thinks about.

Mark: Speaking of Beau, I heard about a dozen tracks from your kids' band, SAFKA. Actually, what we're doing is including one of their songs as a bonus track on this CD to let your fans hear what your talented offspring are up to.



Melanie: Great...Thank you, that's so cool.
Thanks a lot.

Mark: What kind of advice do you have for them? You and Peter have been in the business for a while now. I think they're about to launch a huge career.

Melanie: Oh good, they've had a hard life. They need a good career.... Well, for me, I'm still a freak for honesty. Just really do it because you like it and don't try to cater to a market, even though we're in that world Music should come from the I play that isn't. I think that was why there was such great music in the 60's, and I say the 60's but it was 60's, 70's, because so much of it came out of a spontaneity and maybe the spontaneity came from people smoking grass and they were able to lose the part of them that was inhibited, but you don't have to do that to become uninhibited. Some people don't know that. It's imagination. Imagination is a good thing for uninhibiting yourself. Find things interesting instead of trying to be interesting. Be interested rather than interesting. And I think that just comes through in them. They're not trying to be interesting, they're just who they are...


Very talented. But I also think if you're not talented, don't do it. Just because you look good. Go be a plumber or something There's such a shortage of them. Good plumbers, electricians, people who know how to do things.

Mark: .. To help some body.

Melanie: Yeah, there's so many mediocre people out there trying to become musicians. It's pathetic already. They should just ...

Mark: ...Do what they do well.

Melanie: Yes, it's so sad. So many people who have hit records are really pretty mediocre, and what does that say? It says hey, I could make a million dollars being mediocre. What a way to make artists totally crazy. I mean people who are really good and they're unable to get a record deal. It's enough to make every artist in the universe slit their wrists. My message is just be as true to yourself as you could possibly be, because people need to have musicians and artists to create things that are spectacular.

Mark: For an artist that is about to span 5 decades of recording, your voice actually seems stronger and richer than it did in the beginning, unlike many of your peers. I won't name names.
Some of them are good friends of yours, and their voices are shot.


Melanie: True. Well, I use it a lot. I think that has a lot to do with it. I just keep singing. I had all kinds of trouble touring with my voice. I stay away from doctors who want to cut things out.
Sometimes, a little callous will form if you overuse it and that's nature's way of saying you gotta stop touring. And then if you stop for a little bit, you can continue. It always comes back stronger And I try to do things like not breathing in cigarette smoke, I do breathing exercises, some yoga, I really think all that helps. Anything you think is going to work will work.

Mark: Perception being reality.





Melanie: Exactly. What I'm saying might not work for others, but it worked for me because I believed it.

Mark: Tell us about some of the songs you chose to cover on this collection.

Melanie: I have a few songs in the back of my mind that I'm going to sing when they're old enough. Long, Long Time...I've always loved the song.
It's really a deeply sorrowful song.
Every time I sang it in my mind, it felt really good.
I thought, "well I'm going to sing that song someday" and I did. And I heard "How Can I Help You Say Goodbye" on a demo. I recorded it before any body. In fact, they used one of my string lines in the song.
They said I couldn't record it because she (Patty Loveless) hadn't released it yet. They wouldn't issue the license. But I did it before everybody.
I loved doing Any Time At All. We had a great time, everybody knew the song and we just went for it. It was just one of those spontaneous things. Life Will Not Go Away was written because of Beau when he was little.


He asked me what happens when you die, and I got all choked up and I thought, "God, this is the biggie. I don't want to freak him out, say the wrong thing".
I thought about it, and that's what came out. And I sang that to him a couple days later. Because I told him that was it, life will not go away.

Mark: Let's talk a little bit about the title track for this compilation, Ring The Living Bell. Thanks for being so gracious to allow us to hear you, flaws intact, as you go through numerous punches to hit very difficult notes. Frustrating for you and Jess Leary, but arguably some of the most entertaining moments on this CD.

Melanie: It's so cool that you're doing that. I love live stuff on tape.

Mark: This next question is the only one I screened. Not exactly "60 Minutes" stuff, but I checked with your liaison, Patti, to make sure that you had a sense of humor about this.

Melanie: (feigning resignation): Ok, go ahead.


Mark: Conspicuously absent from this collection is I Don't Eat Animals (and They Don't Eat Me).
Based on what a close family member of yours tells me, that I won't name because you'll kill him, (Beau), I was thinking that maybe you should re-title it I Don't Eat Animals (Unless They're Well Done). A What about the occasional hamburger and, Any other political statements that you've given a second thought to over the years?

Melanie: Oh yeah, my politics.

Mark: Your politics and hamburgers.

Melanie: Vote Libertarian, don't worry about wasting your vote. We've got to get all of them out of there. That's the only way. We need to clean the slate and start over again. Maybe it will be a little chaotic but totally Libertarian. I'm a total Libertarian and I am not a Democrat, a Socialist or Republican. Totally leave us alone and we'll be better off.

Mark: Back to the burgers.


Melanie: I eat animals and they don't eat me.
Yeah, I change my mind in public. I've never wanted to be a politician because it's healthy to change your mind. If you don't change your mind, something is weird.

Mark: I agree, then you can't grow.

Melanie: And you're fixed and some thing's wrong. So it's really good to have a change of thought here and there. It's not inconsistent; it's not a negative. For me I was not doing well as a vegetarian. I just ate fruit and vegetables. I was getting sicker and sicker. And my doctor thought I was not a great candidate for vegetarianism. He said I was way too high strung and I needed animal substance to live.
And he was a vegetarian. So I started including meats in my diet. As far as advice to other people on what kinds of things they should eat, I think everybody should have to find out who they are. I do think it has a lot to do with body types and personality types. You know what you do best on.
I don't know. You'll have to figure it out yourself.


Musicians and Vocalists Include:


Renaissance would like to thank:


Melanie Safka
Jeordie Schekeryk
Jess Leary
Michael Reese
Michael Beuchard
Sal Ditroia
Sean Snyder

Beau Jarred Schekeryk
Leilah Schekeryk
Jock Rartley
Sandy Ficca
Tim Franklin
James Cory

Bob Feldman, Steve Massie,  Andrea Davis,  Dean Fetherling,  Toby Knobel,  Bill Morgan,  Stefan Kolle,  Dave Howe,  Ken Brown,  Neil Wright,  Joe Bojalad,  Brad Curtis,  Dave George and Jim Cuomo.


Special thanks to:



Patti Petow
Hollie Heise

 Jess Leary
Mike & Shirley


Executive Producers:

(The Nickel Song is for Sloup)


Bob Feldman
Mark Saxon

Steve Massie
John W. Edwards

A Special Note from Melanie . . .
"For over thirty years now, I have walked into rooms full of strangers -- "familiar strangers in unfamiliar places." I remember all your faces and names too. Though I may not put the right name to the right face. Thank you for letting me in and for letting me know I didn't disappoint you because that is the only thing I ever worry about.
Thank you Mom, Dad, Sal, Peter, Beau Jarred, Leilah and Greg, Christiana, Jeordie and David, Paraska, Dorothy, Charles B., Nancy and Victor, Marie and Jerry, Fenton, Lynn and Jim, Izzy, Karen and Nadine, Patti P., Wilma, Hans and Wouter, Donna F. and Kim G. (They told me to keep it to ten. I have a tendency to push it.)
Special thanks to my long time friend and photographer Maddy Miller. Now that I've opened up that thank you place, the faces are coming to mind and I send out thank you to all of you who keep me singing from my heart.
You know who you are."


Produced by:
Peter Schekeryk

Compilation produced by:
Mark Saxon

Engineered by:
Jim Morris

Design and layout by:
Teri Frey
John W Edwards
Mark Saxon

Photos Courtesy:
Melanie Safka
Peter Schekeryk

Ring The Living Bell session
engineered and edited by:

Mark Saxon

Steve Massie


One Mistake produced/
arranged by:

Beau Jared Schekeryk

Project Liaison:
Patti Petow




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