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The Garden

Vashti Bunyan


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To hardcore folkies
Vashti is sacred.

It’s easy to see why. The English folk singer has an ethereal voice and the ability to write songs that sound like they were always there, waiting to be uncovered. Much like Vashti Bunyan herself. With her ingenue looks—in the movie they inevitably make, she’ll be played by Daisy Edgar-Jones—and 1960’s “girl with a guitar” persona, Bunyan always appeared poised for greatness. Her first single “Some Things Stick in Your Mind” was written for her by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, an ill-fitting omen of surefire stardom undercut by her own self-penned B-side, “I Want to Be Alone”, a melancholy ode to solitude that also perhaps hinted resentment at singing the tune of two laddish rocker blokes. As the decade of psychedelia and free love came to a close, Bunyan recorded Just Another Diamond Day with the legendary producer Joe Boyd, who had a knack for finding eccentric, misunderstood visionaries like Syd Barrett and Nick Drake. A masterpiece of British folk laced with psychedelics and medieval acoustics, the album failed to find an audience turning towards more bombastic acts like post-Barrett Pink Floyd and starchild David Bowie. For the next three decades, Bunyan stopped making music.

The rest of the story is freak-folk mythology. The album becomes a collector’s item on the rare vinyl circuit, fetching thousands of dollars. More importantly, it inspires a new wave of folk artists, most notably Devendra Banhart. This launches the career renaissance of the obscure Englishwoman living in musical exile while raising kids and sheep in the Scottish countryside. Like her contemporary Nick Drake a decade earlier, her songs grace commercials and soundtracks. There’s a rediscovery of her singles like “Train Song” and “Winter is Blue” that only add to her mystique. She records two new albums, 2005’s Lookaftering and 2014’s Heartleap, that both sound like she picked up her guitar right after Just Another Diamond Day. Whether or not Bunyan ever writes another song, she leaves a legacy as an artist whose work and career transcend the concept of time itself.

-Max

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