Moments of truth
From Stones protégée to modern folk icon, Stewart Smith counts down the four ages of effervescent folk singer Vashti Bunyan
The Loog Oldham years, 1964-67
Her career was launched by Rolling Stones impresario Andrew Loog Oldham at the height of Swinging London.
‘I read that Andrew was this terrible Svengali trying to mould his lovely little folkie into a pop singer and it really wasn’t like that,’ Bunyan explains. ‘I wanted to be a pop singer, I wanted to bring acoustic music into mainstream pop.’
Sadly it wasn’t to be. Her first single, the Jagger–Richards penned ‘Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind’, flopped and further singles were never released. These lost 60s pop gems have been unearthed for a compilation due out in October.
Just Another Diamond Day, 1968-70
Disillusioned with the music business, Bunyan and her boyfriend left London for an artistic commune established by on Skye by Donovan . Too poor to afford a car, they travelled via horse and cart. The journey took two summers and by the time they arrived on the island there was no room for them. Along the way Bunyan had written songs ‘about the journey, the horses and the dogs, and the dreams’, resulting in the sublime pastoral folk of 1970’s Just Another Diamond Day. The album’s commercial failure led Bunyan to quit music for a rural family life.
Diamond Day was finally issued on CD in 2000, enchanting a new generation. Collaborations with Piano Magic, Devendra Banhart and Animal Collective proved her delicate wisp of a voice remained undimmed by the years, and in 2005 she finally delivered a second album, the beautiful Lookaftering.
Zero Degrees of Separation, 2007
Following her return to the live stage in 2003, Bunyan’s first thought was ‘Right! More!’ In the last two years she’s hardly been off the road, both with her own band, plus Vetiver, Adem and Juana Molina on the Zero Degrees of Separation tour. ‘It’s like crossing over into another lifetime and meeting people that I’d never thought I’d meet. I just think didn’t think it was out there!’
Guitars and Other Machines Stage, Saturday