Susan Christie: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — September 16, 2022

THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD

583) Susan Christie — “Rainy Day”

Scandalously unissued in its day, “Rainy Day” is one of an album’s-worth “exquisitely beautiful examples of what could only be called acid folk.” (Bruce Eder, https://www.allmusic.com/artist/susan-christie-mn0001215020/biography). Jeanette Leech calls the album that never was (until 2006!) “one of the heaviest and most haunting acid-folk albums to date” and “one of the most intense of all acid-folk records.” (Jeanette Leech, Seasons They Change: The Story of Acid and Psychedelic Folk). Will Hermes says the songs are “[b]rilliantly original” and “[f]unky freak folk?” and that Christie’s “dark, strange songbird flights stoke a fluid groove.” (https://books.google.com/books?id=dhpEiwR_cZAC&dq=%22susan+christie%22+singer+-ecosystem%22+-meteorological&pg=PA96#v=onepage&q=%22susan%20christie%22%20singer%20-ecosystem%22%20-meteorological&f=false) Richie Unterberger calls them “nicely dreamy and varied folk-rock for the most part that shows a lot of sadly unfulfilled potential” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/paint-a-lady-mw0000473999) and the heroes at Finders Keepers Records call them “hand crafted tales of inner-city solitude backed by a break heavy folk funk rhythm section”. (http://www.finderskeepersrecords.com/shop/susan-christie-paint-a-lady/)

Who is Susan Christie? Bruce Eder explains:

Susan Christie was a Philadelphia-based folksinger . . . [who] attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and took easily to the new requirements of the booming folk-rock field in the mid-’60s. She was cheerful and sufficiently accessible as a singer to lend her voice to the song “I Love Onions” (popularized on the Captain Kangaroo show) in 1966. That was enough to get her a chance to cut a brace of demos . . . . Her prospective record label was unimpressed with (or, more likely, unprepared for) Christie’s melodic yet thoroughly downbeat creations, mostly her unique takes on traditional country and folk material . . . .

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/susan-christie-mn0001215020/biography

Jeanette Leech gives us more history:

Christie’s musical and romantic partner was John Hill, whom she had met in high school. “I always swear that he only dated me because we had a piano in our house. . . . We were in the junior play; we met, and we’ve been hanging out ever since.” . . . “And then this wonderful opportunity came for us to do things the ways we would like to do them”: an album offer from ABC-Paramount. The pair handpicked songs that they admired, mainly in a country-folk vein . . . . Hill created innovative new arrangements of songs . . . Christie sang with her crystal-tipped voice. . . . Hill and Christie were convinced they had done something unique with the album, and were very proud of it. ABC- Paramount was not so pleased. “We’re still not entirely sure why it wasn’t released,” Hill says with a sigh. “I guess the label didn’t like it.” An acetate was pressed up, and Hill retained the master tapes . . . . Christie buried her disappointment and largely gave up on front-line singing. “I think I just dismissed it and said, that’s it, I’ll go back to making rhubarb pie[.]”

Jeanette Leech, Seasons They Change: The Story of Acid and Psychedelic Folk

Christie says that:

I’d always been proud of it – it was a new sound, sort of “folky-funk”. [Afterwards,] I had decided against being a normal singer because jingle work was easier to fit around the children. I sang about bladder control, detergents, diet Pepsi and Maxwell House coffee.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2008/jan/02/folk.features11

I guess no antacid commercials! Then came the 21st Century. Christie explains:

I was working as a jingle singer when Keith D’Arcy, a record company executive and avid collector of the weird and unusual, asked if I had anything in my basement. . . . [O]nly three copies had been pressed [but] I gave one to him, and he contacted [English DJ Andy] Votel [owner and founder of Finders Keepers Records].

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2008/jan/02/folk.features11

“Rainy day, go far away, I’m tired of blues I’ve gone through. Lonely nights, eight thousand sights, of times I once knew. Go away, you rainy day, far away, out of my mind. I should’ve known when times they got hard, you’d go and steal away. The cards broke right, you’re out of sight, and so I named you rainy day. Transparent trees, not what they seem, float by in shades of gray. Dusty shadows dancing ’round in my brain. Yeah, their name is ‘rainy day’. Rainy day, go far away, I’m tired of blues I’ve gone through.”

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