It was my sophomore year of college, and I was the music editor for a campus newspaper. One of the review albums I received from Arista Records was Heroes, Angels and Friends, the debut album by Janey Street. I still remember the letter from the publicist -- it noted that Janey was a Queens native (which was a tie-in because I was at Queens College).
I loved that album from the first spin. There was no getting-to-know-you period, or it-has-to-grow-on-you phase. This was a consciousness-changing reaction I had. I've only reacted that way to records a handful of times at most. Dave Edmunds' D.E. 7th and the Beat Farmers' Tales of the New West are the only ones that readilly come to mind.
I haven't heard the record in quite a while, but I still can remember lyrics (forgive me if I make a mistake -- this is from memory):
From "Say Hello to Ronnie":
Say hello to Ronnie.
Send my love to Sue.
Give my best to Bobby.
And here's a kiss for you.
I'm working on the night shift.
I need to survive.
Living from day to day
Keeping my dreams alive.
From "Jimmy (Lives in the House Down the Street)":
Jimmy lives in the house down the street
He's got a smile and a hold on me (yeah)
Jimmy's got a girl for each day of the week.
I know he's kissing them. Why not me?
Street's songs reminded me of Springsteen, in that she sang of ordinary blue-collar folks and their lives, coaxing drama out of the humdrum. Her songs did show more optimism than Springsteen's, and her music didn;t quite have the same power as his. But I saw her as a female Springsteen. It also didn't hurt that I developed a bit of a fanboy crush on her.
There was a single, "Under the Clock," that dented the Billboard charts, and a video:
I was a little surprised at the choice, since I thought "Under the Clock" was the weakest song on the album.
Anyway, time went by and there was no followup album.
Years later, I tried to get a copy of HA&F on CD, but couldn't find it. I tried to copy my vinyl to CD, but found a skip in one of the tracks. So I really wanted to get an official CD. I found Janey on CDBaby, as she had recorded and (I assume) self-released another album. I listened to a few samples. The music was more mature. But it didn't move me the way the first album did. I didn't buy it, but I emailed Janey through CDBaby to ask if I could somehow get the first album on CD. She wrote back, but to say that the first album wasn't on CD. Oh, and I should buy the new album. She's sure I'll like it.
So that's been that for a few years. I keep toying with the idea of copying my vinyl onto CD, but the issue of that scratch keeps holding me back.
So now I got this invitation. The natural question is how? Well, I was, for one year, a member of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). And I still get occasional emails related to the group. Janey, at this point (in addition to performing and songwriting) does a variety of music-related jobs -- running songwriting workshops, lecturing, and working as a song evaluator for NSAI.
Well, the latest NSAI-related e-mail was a notice that she will be in New York, offering mentoring sessions for songwriters, and performing at this house concert. I don't think I'll sign up for a mentoring session, but I'll definitely go to see her perform.