Ladies, girl singers, chicks! the distaff side. . . whatever you call them they are supposed to have it more difficult on the rock scene.

Maybe it's something The Women's Lib. movement could get onto but for years the really big crowd pullers on the pop rock-progressive-blues scenes have been the males. Singers and groups.

But it struck us that right now there has never been a more interesting set of female performers of all kinds working. So we decided to take a closer look.....


"My Audiences
Are City People"


Melanie was interviewed after her Carnegie Hall concert, where everybody, pulled by the music, came on stage and sat, cool and collected by the singer.
That concert was recorded, was her last album and seemed a good starting off point for this interview.


EDWIN HAWKINS Singers provide a solid background for Melanie



MELANIE - at 13 mostly concerned with love



HP: At the Carnegie Hall concert, when everyone started storming the stage were they talking to you as a person?


MELANIE: Yeah it was really a human thing. I felt that it was a very human contact. It was a very protective attitude from the audience. They were protective of me. I don't know why but they were really kind. They weren't coming to ask me for anything.

                After I had sung my songs and everybody got up on stage there was one girl who was crying. I don't know why. After I was getting up to leave she started crying. It's almost embarrassing to tell but she was crying `'Melanie please don't go." It was really frightening.

I started crying when I left.

HP: What is the difference when you first started singing at 13 and what you are singing now?

MELANIE: When I was 13, I guess I was mostly concerned with love. 1t was mostly other people's songs I was singing because at that time I was singing in bars and nobody wanted to hear my songs. They wanted to hear songs they were familiar with.  

HP: Do you remember the first song you wrote?

MELANIE: Yeah. "There Should Have Been A Rainbow By Now". I really don't know what it was about but I know there should be a rainbow by now! I was about 15 years old at the time.

HP: You pretty much do your own songs and make a success out of it. Are there any people doing your songs like they do material by Laura Nyro and Nilsson?

MELANIE: There are some people that have done my songs but nothing really happened.

HP: I understand that several people you've met at your concerts have become your friends. You seem to be more in contact, more so than other rock people with your audience.

MELANIE: I don't think this is unusual. The thing is this: a lot of times at a lot of concerts you meet a lot of people and most people when they come back to meet somebody, even if that person they're meeting, is a friend of their mother there's something uncomfortable.

                They're not themselves as they would normally be. A lot of people come backstage. Strange things come out of an audience and then all of a sudden there'll be a human-to-human contact.

When I'm in an audience I can never go backstage to see an actor or actress or performer even if they have really impressed me.

                I can't really get back to that level of human contact. If I've just been awed and really inspired then to meet that person face to face scares me.

I met Jacques Brel. I met him after he performed "Man of La Mancha" and it was in French and I don't speak French but I understood everything he had said. It was so unbelievable.

                I had to go back and meet him. I was so scared. I went back and said nothing. I just smiled and I said nothing. I was really dumb. So how could he make friends with me? I'm not even in the same world he's in at the moment.

                What I'm trying to say is that there are some people who after a performance can get back to being a human you know and those are the people I can become friends with.

HP: 'Do you feel any different now the album and singles are out?

MELANIE: I'm happier.

HP: Do you think you could live in the country?

MELANIE: No. I mean I like to go camping. I like the country, have a couple of days away from the city but I always have to go back to the city. I think the city is where the changes begin and I also feel that it is the most desperate place.

 I really feel that my audiences are city people.

I don't think country audiences need as much in comparison to city ones. It's nice to play, a relaxed audience is nice but I enjoy frenzied audiences! So far it's been the cities that have been more exciting.

But I'm not talking about Woodstock.

Woodstock was New York.

HP: What was Woodstock like?

MELANIE: Ravi Shankar went on before me and he got a standing ovation and they didn't want him to go.

There's nothing like going on after the audience doesn't want the person before you to leave. I looked up and I said "Please take me out of here. I don't want to be here anymore." Oh God! I was so scared of being in such a place - with so many people.

                Then it started to rain, just a little bit before I went on and they were setting up my microphone or something and I figured that everyone was going to run out. Get under a tent or something.

HP: is that where "Candles In The Rain" fits in?

MELANIE Well, yeah. I was on my way home. I stayed all night and on the way home I thought of the words, "We were so close, there was no room." I liked that. It's like an impossible thing to keep a light lit when there's rain. And it was a feeling that those people had; they were doing something despite the impossibilities. I got a beautiful feeling. The candles were staying lit. They were flickering but they were on. Wild. Candlelight.

HP: The other Woodstock songs are pretty blunt about Woodstock, saying it was the peace love rock festival. "Candles in The Rain" is a little more subtle, a mood rather than an actuality.

MELANIE: I just thought it was something I'd write and I didn't plan on putting it in a song. I didn't want to put it in a song. You can tell the events that the songwriters are going to lunge into and I like to avoid that. Topical songs get dated so easily. I hate that.

                There's nothing I hate more than an old Union song. I enjoy a lot of things, songs, from those times, but I don't like to hear Union songs. They don't have anything to do with the universe anymore. They are just to be put down, categorized and filed away.

                With "Candles In The Rain" it was an idea that this could happen anywhere, the feeling of idealism.

HP: How are your songs written - "Look What They've Done to My Song, Ma", for instance?

MELANIE: I closed with "Birthday of the Sun" at Woodstock. I love that song and we tried to record it for every album. The song does not come right in the studio but it happens live. Maybe the feel can't come through on record.

Let me tell you about this other song, "Saddest Thing". I wrote that a long time ago after I was in Summer Theater and I was really desperate. I wrote this song and I sang it to just a couple of people. Peter heard it, my mother heard it.

                I never mentioned it and on the night of the Carnegie Hall concert I just dug it out again and sang it. It was like I was ready to do that song. That's what I was going to say about "Birthday Of The Sun". I guess I'm old enough to do that song, when I understand the feeling that I wrote down.

                I do believe that I can write feelings down that I can't fully understand.

                Like now I understand "Saddest Thing" whereas when I wrote it I was in a sad and desperate situation but I don't think I understood it.

                Maybe I'm just not ready to understand "Birthday Of The Sun" yet. We recorded it 72 times and none of them worked out. With all kinds of different arrangements, no arrangements, my arrangements.

                So it didn't turn out and I was on my way from the studio, home, and I thought, "Look what they're doing. I was blaming them and there's another verse in that song that says, "Look what they done to my song ma. Look ma, I ain't got no hope to go on. Look ma, I'm thinking quite seriously it's turning into a joke, Ma. Look Ma, I ain't got no hope." That didn't get into the song. It was the first line that I wrote.

HP: Is the album and single version of "Lay Down {Candles In the Rain)" you did with the Edwin Hawkins Singers, really a short version of what happened in the studio?

MELANIE: It was an eight-minute record. We just never stopped singing "Lay Down". It was so fantastic. It was the first take. They didn't start getting into the song until after a few minutes. I didn't care if it was a single or not. I said, "You've got to leave it." Everybody agreed that it was going to be left alone and then they talked to me and said the single has to be cut. Because I wasn't anybody known and they didn't feel they could take the risk.

I've had a lot of trouble with the times of my songs. On one late night TV show I was told that I had 2.34 minutes and "Lay Down" was too long so I couldn't do it unless I cut two verses.

Look what they done to my song, Ma?


Soozin Kazick. Lake George, New York.


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