Musical Influences

As you can probably tell by wandering through my House of Music, I find solace and hope, catalysts and coaches, refuges and celebrations in music. And my tastes - the music that touches me - vary widely, to some extent inexplicable even to myself.

As first put together, this document discussed the three musicians currently at the core of my listening (and accumulating of recordings and travelling for music). In 1997, I realized that there were actually four. Four musicians whose voices, interpretations, expressions of images and ideas, were frequently on my mind and in my ears. So, the revised list.

Who Are They?

Joan Baez

Probably the most significant musical influence in my life has been Joan Baez. After some listening to Neil Diamond and The First Edition during high school, the first artist for whom I bought multiple LPs - all of which I still own - was Joan Baez. The artist whose voice captured my imagination, whose commitment to her beliefs became a role model of which I've yet to achieve a portion of the dedication and perseverence, and a musician whose song selections and some self-penned material provided lyrics which guided me through the moods and times of my life.

And the artist who was the centerpiece to an amazing musical fantasy that I was privileged to experience during April of 1995 - the recording of a live album at New York City's The Bottom Line club, which brought together two of my other musical influences, as well as many of my long-time (or short-time, for that matter) listening experiences.

This wonderful album, RING THEM BELLS, was released in the US (Guardian CD & cassette / 7243 8 34989 2/4), UK (Grapevine label), and Europe (France & Germany) in October of 1995. The album features guests Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Mimi Farina, Janis Ian, Mary Black (with Pat Crowley), Dar Williams, Tish Hinojosa, the Indigo Girls, and Mary-Chapin Carpenter. My Musical Fantasy attempts to document and celebrate that event.

The Official Joan Baez Web Site opened on April 15, 1996. It keeps readers and surfers up to date with tour anecdotes by road manager Crook Stewart, photos, a semi-regular column on collectibles by Jim Stewart (not related), updates on band members and their other projects, and a periodic excerpt from Joan's writing. Nice to put in your bookmarks! (go there now!)

The FolkLib Site - maintained by Doug Henkle. It includes bibliography, discography, links to ASCAP and other info on Ms. Baez.

In 2007, Proper Records reissued Ring Them Bells in a 2-disc anniversary edition with additional tracks.

To be added to the e-mailing list of Joan Baez tour dates and upcoming events, contact, and include your name and city/state/country.

Mary Black

Mary Black - one of Ireland's premiere artistes, with an repertoire ranging from traditional to Irish-based contemporary pop, country & jazz (ok, the trad. and her jazz covers happen to be my absolute favourites, plus Jimmy MacCarthy's "Bright Blue Rose"). My Mary Black Site contains a discography, as well as biographical information, and links to other sites about Mary Black. Information for the site has been gathered from my own collection, as well as that provided by other aficianados and some by Dara Records. A voice that has to be heard to be believed.

I've used photos from some performances by Mary Black as headings to the various pages. All represent wonderful concert experiences!

Mary's Official Web Pages include a wonderful variety of information, photos, sound samples, as well as discussion forums.

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter. My "Joan Baez of the 1980s and 90s". Her "scotch, smoke & honey" voice is just one of the instruments complementing the life stories that she conveys through amazing use of the American English language. Sometimes you could swear her song lyrics come from your own life!

Susan Werner

Susan Werner: My own description of this Chicago-based Iowa native is guitar playing reminiscent of Patty Larkin, Sarah Hickman and Shawn Colvin, with lyrics that use language with the simplicity yet complexity of Nanci Griffith, Sarah McLachlan or Joni Mitchell. Yet making the language and the instruments (guitar and piano) her own.

An engaging live performer, with a voice that, luckily for we listeners, was sidetracked from an initial path toward operatic training! Particularly well suited to the jazz / cabaret / intimate club style. Yes, I have ventured through below-zero (F) weather - on public transportation - to hear this woman sing!

Lyrics which explore the darker side of relationships and the self, some serious yet critical and disappointed, others with wry humor ("Between Trains". between relationships ... between trains... always waiting in the same train station ... but, "why do the fates above always route love through Miami")

Amused - and agreeing! - to see "my generation" depicted as less than living up to our 60's ideals in "The Baby Boomer Song", wishing that everyone could get "Uncle John", and drawn to yet deeply bothered at seeing the situation of "Through the Glass" from the other side and other role. (Boomer and Uncle John found on Midwestern Saturday Night, Glass found on Last of the Good Straight Girls

Susan's website - - has information on all of her recordings, as well as a discussion forum and how to sign up for her information newsletter.

One or two of Susan's turns of the musical phrase which particularly caught my ear ...

"and I wonder why passion's always half impossibility
but lovers that we lose we never dare forget
we visit them in mourning in December and in May
in the graveyard of St. Mary's of Regret"
St. Mary's of Regret

"you still move the planets
and you still pull the strings
and you still make me want to
fade into the panelling"
Your Old Mistake

[Jane Paul] Of course, behind every stage presence is usually at least one all-purpose wonderperson who really keeps things going ... for Susan Werner, this is her guitar tech, Jane Paul. Unmasked after Susan's fall 1997 gig at Schuba's Tavern, surrounded by the tools of one of her jill-of-all-trades. (the larger photo gives a view of Susan's "hi tech" mounting of her guitar tuner). (I flash photo'd Jane on a pretty dark stage after the gig, so it's rather washed out -- and she was remarkably patient at being blinded!)

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Page content, original artwork, & any digitized scans Copyright © 1995-2008 Carolyn Andre - except for photos of Susan Werner, copyright as credited on "Last of the Good Straight Girls"