SAFKA meets HYND- and lives!

A probing, no-holds-barred reassessment of MELANIE SAFKA'S kaftan spirituality, carried ruthlessly to its inevitable conclusion courtesy of the razor-edged logic of CHRISSIE HYND. Actually it's all girls together, chaps, so stay out of it.

MELANIE. - SO WHO the hell is she anyway?

Oh, of course I know she's a 27-year-old American middle class hippie chick who's been around for a vague era or so, is artsy cultsy, once part of the "Kaftan Set", is associated with some sort of spiritual awareness bag, is reputedly a good person, has a hair-raising toy voice, writes nursery consciousness songs, takes healthy tips, assumes her popularity, sticks to the upstanding, fancies untraditional unrealistic guises, and appears whimsical. But what's her REAL thing?....

Seems like the rest of the "Peace and Ponder" school wandered off somewhere, but Melanie just keeps drifting around in her own pentacle or something. Don't know what she has on her mind. Can't even, believe her act.

Reminds me of an old American greetings card designed by Robert Crumb: "Wanna hear something great? Rub two bricks together."

It's certainly a unique voice.

But what I wanna know is do we have any substantial evidence? I mean, she could be a total nut for all we know.

That naivety. "That watch me skip through life" routine. That freckled, wide-eyed, paint-by-numbers face.

What's wrong with her?

MELANIE'S WEIRD snag is that she hasn't admitted some form of self-defeat. She seems to be the most doubt-free entity on the planet --- even though she's been consistently slagged off since by everybody who didn't unconditional savour her every bleat (and it's just this. unfaltering positive attitude that has me right outa my tree with amazement).

But the thing that really has me by the proverbials is that I think she's progressing, "To where' requires an answer to the original question "Where is. she coming from?"

Still, confused as I may sound presenting this garf, I am thoroughly undermined to find myself admitting that I'm starting to be attracted to her new album, "Madrugada".

Her vocals are starting to get melodic. Her lyrics are still pretty bland, but she does seem to be getting her chops down. Her trip is so openly autobiographic that it can appear a shade bogus at times, but the way she's pulling it off lately has switched from the "little lost cutie" angle, to a kind of maternal "take my hand" approach. The fact that I'm INTRIGUED has my mind on edge.

However, I didn't expect to get any juicy quotes outta Miss S. when she phoned,

She's a smart cookie, and always seems to come on like a smiling vacuum, She's got the "open book" act down pat but I somehow doubt it's really like that. Besides, talking to someone via phone you've never met before is a pretty lame situation; you're rather reduced to treating the interviewee as a moron, and doing that whole insipid number yourself.

As follows. . ,

Do you think of yourself as a cult figure?

"Oh! 1 think I probably used to be, but not any more. My fans feel very close to me, but I don't think it's a cult thing."

How do you feel about cultism, anyway?

"You mean looking to someone as a Master? I think it's fine it that's what a person's need is. Anything a person does is alright for him, Even if he makes a mistake, then it's the mistake that he'll learn from. I do believe in Purpose."

Then you're no fatalist, eh?

"No, I think everything has a Reason.'

Any particular religion, then?

"I have beliefs, definitely. I think Eastern religions are far more applicable than Western ones. I mean, the idea of setting aside one day for worship, Eastern reasons account more for everyday life. I don't believe in the idea, of going through specific steps in order to obtain Supreme Knowledge. I realise there are some things which I'll just never know. At least not in this lifetime."

What's that s'pose to mean?

"Oh, I think I've Been Here Before, No, I don't think it, it's something I feel. Death doesn't mean life stops. Life continues in some form or another. Maybe a tree. . ."

Call any vegetable --- is that it?

"Oh, I don't know. I change how I feel about things all the time, Before talking to you I was planting flowers so that's just what struck me at the time.!

How's your kid?

"Oh, she's fine, great."

Has the blessed event changed any attitudes?

"Well, I'm much more relaxed now. You know, I never really planned on having a child, but when it happened it was fantastic."

But has it changed your music?

"I don't know. I was pregnant during the entire recording of the last album. But I'm not writing songs about having babies, if that's what you mean. It's so easy to get into verbalising feelings, but it always comes out sounding so idiotic. I promised myself I wouldn't do that."

You gonna retire to be a mother, or something?

"Oh no. Besides, I can't make plans. They never work out as I expect anyway. But I won't stop singing. In fact I'm in the middle of a tour right now."

And Britain?

"Well, nothing definite. I really love Britain, though. I'd even like to live there. But I've got ties here, my family's here. On the other hand, the English countryside is so beautiful. Things even seem to grow better there."


Well, no conclusions, no revelations, no nothing. I didn't even remember to ask her how much light to give my rhododendrons.

Shucks, I didn't even get heavy with her. How could I? She's sincere.

And that's the real tooth-grinder about Melanie: she may leave an acutely yin after-taste, but, by golly, the woman's sincere.

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