It was so good to listen to Respond on Monday that I’m going to feature some more tunes from it today and Friday. I have to confess that I don’t know much about the artists I’m going to trumpet, but as you’ve come to learn I’m not shy about sharing songs I like.
First, meet Kris Delmhorst. Her contribution, “Weatherman,” is precisely the kind of the folky, acoustic music I was all over starting in the late 80s. Great, soaring chorus. She’s been steadily releasing music over the years (including a disk of Cars covers); I’m definitely going to have imbibe some of it.
Next, Merrie Amsterburg. She was one of the artists on Respond who already had a recording contract at the time. I hear lots of different influences; the intro reminds me a little of “Sunny Came Home.” It’s a great tune.
Catie Curtis had almost a decade of recording behind her by the time this compilation was put together, making her one of the artists who may have helped Respond get a little traction. She’s found some success over the years and has kept on keeping on. Another very nice one.
Finally (for today), I want to highlight two songs for which there’s no YouTube link.
–My cousin, Sandi Hammond, was the one singer-songwriter on Respond who didn’t play guitar. Her piece, “Across the Bay,” displays influences from Joni and Kate (when I first heard it, I thought a little of “The Man with the Child in His Eyes”). Wish I could share it! I’m biased, I know, but I’ve always thought her music was really great.
–The final track is “Purple Ray Gun,” by Alexis Shepard. It’s entirely appropriate for the project, about rescuing a friend from an abusive relationship. Despite its somewhat whimsical title, it’s an affecting piece and I like it quite a bit.
Alexis was tragically killed in an accident (the bicycle she was riding was hit by a truck) a year before Respond was released, and the project was dedicated to her memory. In researching for this post, I learned that her mother and stepfather were anthropologists who did field work in Papua New Guinea; Alexis spent some decent part of her youth growing up among the Chambri there. After Alexis’s death, they and Alexis’s husband went back to mourn with the Chambri, and subsequently wrote a fascinating, moving account of their experience for Amherst College Magazine.
On Friday, two more excellent songs, quite possibly my favorites, from this collection.
3 thoughts on “Responding to Respond”
Hello! I was so happy to see your shout out to this album. I owned and listened to this constantly in the early 2000s when I lived in Boston. The song Purple Ray Gun was a favorite of mine. At the time I was doing my training to become a therapist and had a close friend who’d grown up in an abusive home. It felt like that song tuned me into a very personal sense of compassion for that particular life experience. I think of it still when I work with people who grew up under the tyranny of angry, abusive parenting. I attempted to find the artist to thank her but only found an uncle who, at the time, was a music reviewer for a Boston newspaper. He told me about her early death. What a resounding loss! This whole album is worthy of a great attentive listen. The songs each describe a variety of personal experience. Most of us can find a bit of autobiography in many of them. Thanks again for this worthy put-up.
Heather Henry Rawlins
I appreciate your kind words, Heather. Respond is indeed a wonderful collection of songs. Thank you for sharing how “Purple Ray Gun” has influenced your approach to your work.
After I wrote this last year, I learned from my cousin that she and Alexis had met and known each other in college (Earlham, in Indiana) and that Alexis had moved to Boston afterward in pursuit of a musical career (my cousin is from the Boston area). It really was a tragic loss.