Why I Love: Emma Swift on Sandy Denny

Emma Swift is due to release her latest album; a collection of Bob Dylan covers entitled Blonde On The Tracks. We recently interviewed Emma Swift (read here) about the album. From the chat we had it was clear she had a love of many musical artists, so we invited her to write for our Why I Love column.

Emma discusses her love of the untouchable Sandy Denny; the folk rock hero who’s voice propelled Fairport Convention and Fotheringay to stardom, whilst she also produced some stellar albums herself.

Why We Mustn't Forget Sandy Denny, The Folk Rock Hero Who ...
Sandy Denny

It’s the sweet and gentle sadness in her voice that wooed me, the way her tone could be clear and bright and yet so full of desperate longing. The way she almost whispers “Sad, deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving/ Ah, but then you know it’s time for them to go” as though she’s singing a lullaby in “Who Knows Where The Time Goes?” before breaking hearts and minds with that intense and lonely belted out chorus:

Who knows where the time goes?

Who knows where the time goes?

Who knows, indeed Ms Denny. It’s a strange and sad year and time feels more strange and sad each day. I’ve been in lockdown with my record collection for just over 22 weeks now. It is not the first time I’ve turned to Fairport Convention’s Unhalfbricking for comfort, or Denny’s exceptional 1974 solo record Like An Old Fashioned Waltz for a good solid cry to “Solo”, although that song takes on a particularly devastating quality in isolation:

I’ve always lived in a mansion

On the other side of the moon

Sandy Denny - like an old fashioned waltz LP - Amazon.com Music

I’ve always kept a unicorn

And I never sing out of tune

I could tell you that the grass is really greener

On the other side of the hill

But I can’t communicate with you

And I guess I never will

We’ve all gone solo

We all play solo

Ain’t life a solo?

Though Sandy Denny’s sonic spells were cast before I was born, I am utterly possessed by her voice. And though she died in 1978, her music remains vivid and alive and more important to me than ever. In perhaps her finest performance “You Never Wanted Me”, the pain and sadness in the recording is as acute as a blade on the wrist.

Her life was too short, but her shadow is long. Why do I love Sandy Denny? It’s like asking a bird why it loves the sky. It’s her world, I’m just singing in it.

Many thanks again to Emma Swift for her words on Sandy Denny.

Blonde On The Tracks is released on 14th August. Watch the video for Queen Jane Approximately below.

Emma Swift: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp

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