After finding God or more accurately God finding me age 26 I spent the next ten years writing and living and living and writing….until meeting songwriter and recording engineer, Michael Klein, actually it was the second times our paths had crossed and making some demos and recording my first album in 1986. This was released in 1987 on Run River Records, a small independent label, set up by an American Antiquarian Bookseller Fred Underhill who was living in Devon in the UK. The album received immense critical acclaim and accolades and even awards, winning the Which CD and Hi-fi Award for Best Folk Album of 1989 and along with Peter Gabriel I was runner up to Prince as the Most Innovative Performer. Well known Radio D.J’s would let me know that they had never had their desk light up all at once with listeners wanting to know more about me and where they could buy my records….and “for goodness sake get them in to the shops!”
This was before the incredible internet world wide web had begun.
I liked being with an Independent label, I love the word independent despite the realization that we are all One. It is what I like about CD Baby. Not being swept off my feet by the pressures of a major label and major stardom and success I was able to take my time and go at my own snail’s pace on the difficult road less travelled that the hero’s journey entails.
Leonard Cohen whom I met when I was 21, told me upon the release of my first album, that he loved my work and played it to many of his friends in Los Angeles soon after its release. He told me how much he loved the song that I never told him I wrote for him (though he might have guessed), called Come to me Darling and for a while tried to get something happening with my work in L.A. He told me at the time “Your voice is a very clear light” and “Something’s got to give”. But it didn’t. Not in worldly terms.
But his advice to me was somewhat contradictory. One time he told me to stop fluttering my eyelashes in the corner of the room and the next that despite the fact that he thought I was a genius the music business was a harsh terrain.
I had fallen in love with Leonard when I first heard him singing on a car radio as a child, Love Calls you by your name, soon after my father died.
Giancarlo Cesaroni, who promoted me in Italy told me back in the 80’s: “You know, if you were half as talented you’d be twice as successful…..you’re unique and can’t be boxed.” He set up the renowned Folk Studio in Rome in the 60’s I believe, bringing Bob Dylan to the Italians and later Suzanne Vega…I guess he should know. But to me it made no sense. What did he mean?
Well a few years later I remember doing a concert in the U.K and a man who seemed to love my work came and sat next to me on a step after the gig as I was signing a few albums and told me: “You know Felicity, it wasn’t just what you said when you released your first album, but when you said it.”
That stuck with me and helped me make sense of my journey through the years. A Wayfarer’s journey is rarely easy….and my inspiration came from within and from above.
I remember the renowned singer, Jennifer Warnes, ringing me up after a concert in Los Angeles in the early 90’s and telling me that I was digging roads. Other people seemed to know more about my work than I did. Jennifer was a great support to me at that time and attended most, if not all of my gigs. I was told that she had mentioned me on a radio interview as being an artist who had never sold out. There’s a double meaning there of course!….but I think she meant what I think she meant.
Yes, people would attend my gigs in the late 80’s and fold both their arms and legs in perhaps semi-conscious self defence, which I’ll admit was a bit disconcerting. But there would be other people who would come up to me after a gig and say “Thank God you exist”. ..and it was those people who would keep me going. But actually it was the others too. For they were both reflections of my own once divided self.
Let it be known that I have loved you
Let it be known that I have cared
Let it be known that a time is coming
That was long ago prepared.
Let it be known that I have loved you
With a passion deep and wide
And that I’ve travelled a great distance
To bring good news from the other side.
Let it be known that I ventured on
Through a dark and deep terrain
But into golden light I have transmuted
The dark dross of my pain.
Let it be known that I travelled on
Unafraid of being scared
That in collapse and dissolution
I was lovingly repaired.
Let it be known that I was wounded
At the very centre of my soul
But on my knees in repentance
I fell apart and became whole.
From my song: Let it be known that will hopefully be recorded for my fourth and final album of Wayfarer.
So here is the second instalment of my journey of transformation. The songs were written in my thirties whilst living in a flat in Putney, London, with my beautiful Persian cat Mastermind Oedipus Maui, who, when I was writing a song would only meow when it was finished, no matter how many hours, weeks or months it would take to write. It was like a seal of approval. When I would attempt to record a finished song I would try to switch off the tape before the meow, but I never once succeeded.
The Journey …