Tuesday, April 07, 2015

I've always kept a unicorn

I'm in yet another Sandy Denny cycle. This one started a few months ago with the announcement of a new box set, The Collected Fotheringay, along with a new biography (whose title is the title of this blog). The cycle picked up steam a few weeks ago with David Hepworth's podcast with the biography's author, Mick Houghton, and reached its apogee today with the simultaneous arrival of the boxset and the biography.

Intriguingly, the biography has two signatures. Following is the explanation from Elizabeth Hurtt-Lucas, widow of Trevor Lucas (Sandy was his second wife) and keeper of the archives: Yes, indeed it is Georgia's signature. Mick has agreed to sign the first 100 copies from Burning Shed and it so happened that the first 50 arrived at his house a couple of days before Georgia visited for afternoon tea – we thought it would be a nice idea for her to co-sign those first 50 copies (post to the Sandy Denny mailing list, 23/03/15).

So this means that I have one of the first 50 copies. Considering that I only ordered it two weeks ago, it implies that the book is not selling well.

I've been reading it for about an hour and a half and have got up to the middle of 1969 - post crash, pre-L&L. It's too early for me to have an opinion of the book. This is the third biography that I have read about Sandy, and whilst obviously it covers the same story, there are different quotes. Certainly, the pre-Fairport days are covered more extensively and there is also a chapter on pre-Sandy Trevor Lucas. 

Interestingly, the book makes a strong case for Trevor Lucas, guitarist, although Swarbrick descibes him as a rock steady rhythm player. As coincidence would have it, Sandy was on the mobile mp3 player last night, and once again, listening to the Fotheringay, tracks, I wonder how much guitar he played on that album, especially 'The pond and the stream' and 'Banks of the nile'. I wish I had Jerry Donahue's email so that I could ask him.

One surprise on the boxset is the inclusion of demos - several for the first Fotheringay album. The most interesting of these is a demo for 'The pond and the stream', composed during the summer of 1969. Obviously, Sandy is singing and it doesn't take a great stretch of imagination to conclude that she is playing the guitar which accompanies the singing. Here and there are small glitches in the playing which lends credence to the supposition that it's her playing. What is so interesting is that the mainly finger-picked accompaniment is very similar to the final version (or rather, the final version is a polished edition of the demo). Could it be that Sandy plays on the released version??

I was disappointed to see that there weren't song by song credits on the album, so I am still left in the dark. I shall investigate.

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