Thursday, August 08, 2013

LET’S PRETEND WE’RE SPIES


I used to say I felt sorry for the Beatles, because they couldn’t sit around and listen to the Beatles. They were the only ones who couldn’t. The rest of us were far more lucky that way.

I could say the same about Faye Hunter, too. What would it be like to listen to ROOM WITH A VIEW, or BLUE LINE, or her own gorgeous BLINDED and only be able to say, “I wish I could do that one again–it wasn’t very good.”
And now we have LET’S PRETEND WE’RE SPIES, with Amanda Thompson. It reminds me, oddly, of the Beatles’ post-Beatles FREE AS A BIRD, gorgeously sparkling and measured, but mostly in the regard of its absolutely timelessness–how often can that be said of a pop song?  And to carry the Beatles analogy to a foolish extreme, someone like John Lennon was at least lucky enough to recognize that he was a genius, and he often did. Faye? not so much. In fact, Faye’s final recording, LINCOLN LETTERS, was shipped to her by computer and she had difficulty downloading it. Finally, she gave up, saying, “I really didn’t do anything special. I just sang the song, and not very well.” And so she let it go with a sigh and returned to Buddy and Julie Miller on her Subaru cassette deck, often singing on her way to pick up a Bojangles biscuit for breakfast. These songs would have to wait for the rest of us. 

Anyone who ever knew Faye knew that it was nary impossible to be angry with her, but at times like this, it’s mighty easy to get damn close–for these works are difficult, if not impossible, to second guess. A song like LET’S PRETEND WE’RE SPIES is a work of extraordinary beauty, warmth, depth, range, complexity, and unexpected vocal pyrotechs. They were some but not all of the things that Faye was, and we are lucky enough to be able to hear them now, and from now on, with both joy and the deepest sorrow all wrapped up into one wistfully melancholy, beautiful package. 

There are times–all the time in fact–when  I wish I could have one more minute with Faye just to say, “Don’t you realize how brilliant this is?” But I know that it would be a minute wasted–she would let out her patent-pending southern honk of a laugh and carry on with her life, drawing doodles, petting her beloved cats, and cutting up a few apples as treats for Newbie, the baby donkey, across the street. Faye, for all her talent, never really considered herself an artist. And yet she did everything a great artist does, with flair and panache, and to a fevered, focused and delicious peak. What more could you ask from a woman with a microphone or a paintbrush in her hand, standing so delicately and perfectly on planet earth?

Listen to LET’S PRETEND WE’RE SPIES and decide about this music for yourself. Don’t feel bad about disagreeing with Faye: you can call her brilliant, you can call her an artist, and you will, and she will forgive you, and she will love you, and you will love her. That’s what Faye was all about. God bless our times for being able to preserve some of that love past the days she spent here with us. And now that you have her in your world, turn on the turntable, open the window, and let in the sun.


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