SKETCH 19th July 1969

Melanie on the troubles of not being a flop . . .

(I enjoyed singing, there was this freedom in failure)

by Jane Gaskell

MELANIE is important. Even Melanie may presently begin to notice this, as across the States and across Europe the fans who hail her as a small female Bob Dylan multiply in their thousands.

Now she is breaking the British sound barrier. She is here to write and record the score for the new Olivia Hussey film "All The Right Noises."

"They want one of the songs to be called that," Melanie says. Doubtfully. " I just kept thinking: ' Well, what rhymes with noises for heaven's sake?' "

She is 22 and plays a harsh guitar. Her voice is new, rich, loving. She sounds like summer and she sounds like tragedy. Normally cautious critics have decanted superlatives all over her.

SHE is not yet sure whether it's as much fun to see herself as a success: " There was this freedom in failure."

"I never imagined anything would happen to me. I Just sat in really awful clubs, played guitar, enjoyed singing. I never had an agent even."

" I thought to get an agent you have to send him a glossy eight-by-ten picture of yourself. Smiling. I didn't reckon it was worth the postage."

"Now, so many people have charge of my career, I don't quite have charge of it. I've lost the freedom of flopping. Also of looking after myself most ways --- so many people have said: 'Oh, you don't want to bother yourself with your money problems, let us handle all that ugly stuff for you.'"

" But I've suddenly realised that, I suddenly decided to be a pottery maker next month, how would I ever pay a bill, or book a plane flight for myself ? I wouldn't know how."

Melanie's mother has sung Manhattan Jazz most of a lifetime. Melanie went to dramatic academy.

" I got my degree and decided I must get work. Every day for three months I took the two-hour bus journey from our suburb, then sat in the terminal with a coffee and read advertisements."

" I never answered any. They asked for 'young, pretty girl' and I instantly disqualified myself."

"Then one day I saw this ad. Well, I got to this hotel the ad. named but it had left out which room the audition was in. The Janitor sent me to one he said crazy things were always happening in."

" It belonged to two music publishers. I just sat there In their office and cried and cried.

" They were called Hugo and Luigi."

" I could tell they didn't like my songs too much. but they gave me marks for sincerity, and they signed me.

"A FEW days later Hugo and Luigi signed on a new man called Peter Schekeryk to run their whole production company. When they had me play for him he got really excited. He turned off all the lights to listen to me."

"He ran into their office and jumped up and down and said they could throw all the rest of their stuff out of the window. I was what mattered."

He thought she mattered so much that last New Years Eve he married her.

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