She died yesterday. This is Phoebe Snow. I won't write an obitutary here. Plenty of news sources have done that, recounting (vocab word this week!) her poetic and poignant career and life, both too short. All I can do is talk about what she meant to me. This was my life growing up. Music was always on in our house. Neel and I could really step up in that regard. (We do better now that we have Sonos [a topic for another post], but we could always do even better.) Phoebe Snow, Al Jarreau, Manhattan Transfer. There were plenty others, jazz greats and more, but for me, those were the big three. Before I bought my own first album (Thriller), this was the soundtrack of my life. Not too shabby.
But Phoebe Snow. I loved the others and still do, but Phoebe Snow. Something about that voice and those lyrics drew me in, even as a scruffy, trapped-in-her-own-head little kid. Never Letting Go, Second Childhood, Rock Away, these were the albums we listened to. During the summers, when I was home alone (yeah, we did that back then), I would stack four albums on my parent's turntable and have her songs as the background of all sorts of games - sometimes it was "hotel," sometimes "house." The best was "hardware store." My dad, who is a sculptor had a basement studio with all sorts of wonderful tools and necessary bits like screws and nails. Because music was as essential to his work as breath to life, he rigged speakers from our turntable down to the basement (pre-wireless!). While my parents were at work during the day, the cool basement became my hardware-store home (Treller Hardware, named after the return address I saw on a Publisher's Clearing House Envelope). The piped-in music? What works best for any hardware store? Phoebe Snow of course! I played those albums over and over. Wore the holes in the LPs so thin that sometimes the next record in the stack wouldn't fall. I'd have to interrupt my sale with an important customer to run upstairs and flip the albums.
In my child-mind, I think she was mixed up with a family friend of ours. My first grown-up friend. Both women represented creativity and a kind of soft, soulful comfort. Still, I've listened to her enough as I've aged that her music doesn't take me straight back the way certain songs or smells can. I'm glad. It's like she's imprinted in my very skin. She's in my heart's memory instead.
Here's what's criminal. I only have one of her albums in my iTunes library. I knew I had at least one other CD so I went to grab that and import it this morning. Jewel case: empty. Looks like I might be pilfering one of Callum's iTunes gift cards. (I'll replace it so quickly he'll never know!) What's even worse is that my two favorite albums aren't even on CD. I've found them both on an mp3 download site, but I'm enough of a Mac girl for that to make me a little nervous! I'm also hoping that my dad still has the old LPs. If so, I have a friend who can import them into iTunes for me. I like the idea of that scratchy record sound.
If you don't know her story, you'll read that when you click on the link. She was amazing. It's selfish of me to wish she'd produced more when she gave up music to do what she did.
So I'll leave you with her most famous song. "Poetry Man." Brings tears to my eyes to hear it. Someone said you can't play it loud enough. They're right.
May you be filled with lovingkindness, Phobe Snow.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy