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Melanie (Safka)

17 Aug 01 - 04:34 PM (#530384)
Subject: Melanie (Safka)
From: John MacKenzie

I always liked this artist and wonder what happened to her. Yesterday I was in a thrift shop and found a tape by her. Playing it to-day while driving home from work I heard Psychotherapy for the first time ( Yep I know it's probably years old: so am I! ), well I nearly drove into a ditch. I also noticed for the first time how like Edith Piaf she sounded when singing the French words in "Look what they done to my song Ma". Anybody out there agree and/or can tell me what she's doing now.


17 Aug 01 - 04:39 PM (#530389)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: Sarah2


The last time I saw her was a few years ago on a tribute to Phil Ochs special on the tube. She was performing a new song she called "Groundhog Day."

I still perform "The Nickel Song" -- it's fun to do, and still has something to say after all these years. Great singalong, too: how much easier can a chorus get?


17 Aug 01 - 04:50 PM (#530393)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: Joe Offer

There's a good biography of Melanie in the All Music Guide

No talent who came out of Woodstock and who continued actively performing more than a quarter century later remained as closely associated with the 1960s and "flower power" than Melanie. Born Melanie Safka in Astoria, Queens in 1947, she made her first public appearance at age four on a radio show, later studying at the New York Academy of Fine Arts. After mounting a singing career while in college, she later sang in clubs in Greenwich Village, and was signed to a publishing contract in 1967. She recorded her first single, "Beautiful People," for Columbia Records that same year. Her relationship with the record company was short-lived, however, and after one more single she left the label.
In 1969, she chanced to meet producer Peter Schekeryk, and after a hastily arranged audition, he took charge of her career. Her first album, Born to Be, was recorded and released by Buddah later that same year. On August 16, Melanie took the stage at the Woodstock Music & Art Festival in Bethel, New York; her song "Birthday of the Sun" was later released on the Woodstock 2 album, and 20 years later it was released on video as part of Woodstock: The Lost Performances, alongside the work of Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the Who.

Soon afterward, she cut her second album, Affectionately Melanie, which did slightly better than her first; however, her commercial breakthrough came 11 months after Woodstock, when she released the song "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," recorded with the Edwin Hawkins Singers. The song, written as a tribute to the audience at Woodstock and displaying the feel of a gospel hymn, rose to number six on the U.S. charts, while the accompanying LP, entitled Candles in the Rain, reached the Top 20.

After 1970's Leftover Wine, a live album recorded at a Carnegie Hall concert, she issued a plaintive version of the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday." In January of 1971, Melanie's own version of "What Have They Done to My Song, Ma," a recent smash for the New Seekers, got to Number 39 in Britain, where she emerged as a major star. In March, however, her new release The Good Book peaked on the U.S. charts at just Number 80, despite the presence of several impressive tracks, among them a hauntingly beautiful cover of Phil Ochs' prophetic, doom-laden self-eulogy "Chords of Fame."

At around this time, Melanie rebelled against her contract with Buddah, which required her to supply albums more or less on demand — she'd had four LPs released in half as many years, and wanted more control over her work and career. With help from Schekeryk, whom she had married, she organized her own label, Neighborhood Records, during the summer of 1971. Her first subsequent single, "Brand New Key" hit No. 1 on the U.S. charts while on its way to becoming a million seller; thanks to its not-so-subtle sexual undertones, the song became a kind of "in" dirty joke in some circles, and was even censored on some radio stations, but it also made Melanie one of the top-selling artists of the year 1971.

The accompanying album, Gather Me, was the best produced long-player she had ever released, and reached a chart position of No. 15, earning a gold record in the process. This huge success prompted Buddah to release Garden in the City, consisting of previously unreleased outtakes. At the same time that 1971's Gather Me spawned the single "Ring the Living Bell," Buddah decided to capitalize more directly on Melanie's catalog and released "The Nickel Song"; the presence of two singles in release simultaneously from two different labels and distributors — each competing for radio play and listener dollars — damaged both releases, and they effectively cancelled each other out.

Garden in the City rose to number 19, but her next new album on Neighborhood, Stoneground Words, only got to No. 70 late in 1972. In June of 1973, her double concert album, Live at Carnegie Hall, recorded the previous year, didn't even make the Top 100. By this time, Melanie had withdrawn from the stage, and was devoting her time to more personal and domestic concerns, having the first of three children in as many years. She re-emerged in 1974 for a short series of concerts, but her new album of that period, Madruguda, barely made it onto the charts, and her subsequent two LPs, As I See It Now and Sunset and Other Beginnings, released in 1975, barely sold. Neighborhood Records was later closed down.

A year later, Photograph was released to lackluster sales on Atlantic; the follow-up, Photogenic, also failed to chart, and her last album for the next five years, Ballroom Streets, appeared on the Tomato label in 1977. In 1982, Melanie cut a comeback album, Arabesque, for RCA; a year later, her single "Every Breath of the Way" scraped the middle of the British charts and led to a series of concerts in England. Neighborhood was soon reactivated just long enough for Melanie to release one last album, Seventh Wave.

At the end of the 1980s, she re-emerged once again with her theme music for the popular television series Beauty and the Beast. By that time, Woodstock nostalgia was beginning to be stoked by the media and concert promoters, and Melanie appeared at one of the 20th anniversary events. She continued to periodically perform at clubs in the United States and larger festivals in Europe, where her association with the 1960s made her a major draw, and every so often released an album of new songs or re-recordings of her classic numbers. — Bruce Eder

17 Aug 01 - 05:09 PM (#530397)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: Bardford

Google search - type "Melanie" - yields a bunch of links. She's playing concerts this month.Try this:Melanie News

17 Aug 01 - 05:30 PM (#530408)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: Wesley S

Back when I worked for a retail record store chain { Peachs } she came by for an in-store appearance. She was cornered by a fan who went on and on about aliens, ufo's and the connection they had with her { Melanie's } music. I asked her later if that was typical and she said it was. I hate to put words in her mouth but she went on to say something to the effect of she expected some of that when she got in the business but she thought she got more than her fair share of "interesting" fans.

17 Aug 01 - 06:16 PM (#530436)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: Little Hawk

I rather liked Melanie and had quite a few of her albums in my old vinyl collection. She, like Donovan, seemed to be almost inseparably connected in people's minds with flower power, and this earned her contempt in some quarters which was kind of sad.

One thing I noticed was that on some songs she sounds a lot like Buffy Sainte-Marie...not the distinctive vibrato, but something else in the vocal tone. I've never heard anyone else who did.

Melanie did some interesting stuff in the early 80's, but as I recall it did not garner much attention, at least not in Canada. I suspect she would have done much better in Europe than in North America.

Thanks for the links!

- LH

18 Aug 01 - 03:36 AM (#530673)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: Roger in Sheffield

My friend kept on mentioning Melanie and the other year I tracked down a CD called The four sides of Melanie HILLCD10 which has 21 tracks on it.

27 Sep 15 - 11:34 PM (#3740218)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE NICKEL SONG (Melanie)
From: Jim Dixon

As recorded by Melanie

Well you know that I'm not a gambler but I'm bein' gambled on.
They put in a nickel and I sing a little song:
Dot-n-dah, dot-n-dah, dot-n-dah-dah-dah, dot-n-dah, dot-n-dah-dah-dah.
They put in a nickel and I sing a little song.

Well, I don't mind that they're lucky, but it seems that they always win,
And gamblin' is illegal in the state o' mind I'm in;
And if I had a nickel for each time that I been put on,
I would be the nickel man and I'd sing a nickel song.

They're only puttin' in a nickel and they want a dollar song.
Oh, they're only puttin' a nickel and they want a dollar song.

Well, you know I don't know so many things, but I know what's been goin' on:
We're only puttin' in a little to get rid of a lot that's wrong;
And if we had a nickel for each time that we been put on,
We'd all be the nickel man and we'd sing a nickel song.

They're only puttin' in a nickel and they want a dollar song.
Oh, they're only puttin' a nickel and they want a dollar song.

Well you know that I'm not a gambler but I'm bein' gambled on.
They put in a nickel and I sing a little song.
Dot-n-dah, dot-n-dah, dot-n-dah-dah-dah, (etc.)

28 Sep 15 - 12:04 AM (#3740219)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)

I just finished watching the documentary Greenwich Village: Music that defined a generation in which Melanie, along with many other artists, provide anecdotes and reminisce about that scene. At the end of the vid there are a few outtakes of some of the interviewees in one of which Melanie reveals that she was driven to Woodstock by her mother. I find that sweet.

28 Sep 15 - 01:26 AM (#3740222)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: Joe Offer

Gee, Wikipedia says she was born in 1947, so she's 68. I thought she was one of those people who would never get old.
Happens to the best of us, I suppose.


28 Sep 15 - 02:30 AM (#3740223)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: GUEST,DaveRo

Joe Boyd, in his book White Bicycles, relates how the Incredible String Band didn't play their slot at Woodstock because it was raining - they were using electric instruments by then. The slot was taken by Melanie who performed - in the rain - to some acclaim. This apparantly inspired 'Candles in the Rain'.

And she made it into the film of Woodstock, whereas ISB - who performed next day among rock groups - didn't.

28 Sep 15 - 07:29 AM (#3740261)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: GUEST,Guest

She was also in the film Glastonbury Fayre, giving a memorable performance of her song 'Peace Will Come'.
   Think it is still on Youtube somewhere.

28 Sep 15 - 08:58 AM (#3740273)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: Jeri

And here is Candles in the Rain. Love that song.

28 Sep 15 - 01:54 PM (#3740374)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: BrooklynJay

And she's still performing: Tour dates

Tomorrow night she'll be in Somerville, Massachusetts.


29 Sep 15 - 03:31 AM (#3740516)
Subject: RE: Melanie (Safka)
From: Bert

I just love Melanie. Thanks Jim for posting "The Nickel Song" I had almost forgotten that. I'm going to have to learn it.