Tuesday, March 4, 2014

meeting the space lady

Back in December I was on vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Walking across the plaza, I noticed a street singer.

She was playing a small Casio keyboard and singing "Shakin' All Over." It was a bit minimalist, as necessitated by the circumstances. But what struck me was her voice. She sounded like a theremin. I stayed and watched and listened. I had to buy her album. Actually, I bought both albums that she was selling -- only to realize later that they had the same material. One was a rerelease of the other, with the tracks reordered. She insisted that I, a good customer, should take her card.

And that was my live experience with the Space Lady.

The liner notes on one of the albums explain it. Actually, they explain too much. Not that there's a lot of personal details that you don't want to know. But a lot of background details that you probably don't care whether you know or not. Let's just say that the liner notes are thorough. And illuminating. Her parents were living in Roswell at the time of the famous UFO crash, and she was born shortly thereafter. I won't go into all the details, but she spent some time living with her husband in a cave in California, before they relocated to Boston. In Boston they lived off of her busking until they could afford to relocate to San Francisco. There they lived off of her busking.

And the music? Intriguing is the best way to describe it. She sings, she warbles and she moans. Most of the songs are rock standards, though her theremin voice transforms them into things they were never intended to be. And there are originals (written by her ex-husband). I can't quite tell if they're good or not, since the arrangement is so overpowering.

After I listened to her album in its entirety, I decided that this was a true musical outsider, and I should bring her to the attention of Irwin Chusid -- chronicler of outsider music. I'll post about him some other day if I remember.

Of course, today I pulled out Songs in the Key of Z, Volume 2, a CD of assorted outsider performances assembled by Chusid. Lo, The Space Lady is one of the featured artists. I guess he already knows about her...

For your listening pleasure, here is The Space Lady, live in Santa Fe, performing "Radar Love":

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