The Night I Dreamt of Joanna Newsom
|Joanna Newsom with Kermit the Frog|
Last night I dreamt that I found Walnut Whales, Joanna Newsom's self-released debut EP in a second hand record shop. I was so overwhelmed by the find that I felt my hand shaking as I took it to the counter. Fans of Newsom will testify that this is the most sought-after album in her catalogue, pre-dating The Milk-Eyed Mender - her official debut - by two years. When I woke, I felt the pang of disappointment to find that it was only a dream.
I've seen Joanna Newsom perform both indoor and out. The first occasion was in 2008 when I saw her perform in the truly spectacular neo-classical setting of Somerset House. She didn't play Ys - her second full-length album - from start to finish as she had done as part of the Ys tour, but we were treated to some highlights from The Milk-Eyed Mender, Ys, as well as Colleen (from her 2008 EP, Joanna Newsom & the Ys Street Band) and some early versions of songs such as In California and Baby Birch that would go on to appear on her third album, Have One on Me.
Two years later, I saw Newsom perform at Birmingham Symphony Hall, another majestic arena for Newsom's richly poetic verse. A certain online auction site ensured I secured front row centre tickets. This time, Newsom was accompanied by a four-piece band, including the impossibly talented multi-instrumentalist Ryan Fransesconi, who was fundamental in the arrangements found on Have One on Me. Newsom's performance was breathtaking, as she weaved tales from her harp, from the poignancy of Baby Birch's gathering crescendo to the full-backing of the band in Have One on Me's eponymous song as it brought the story of Lola Montez to life. I'd fallen in love with Newsom all over again.
And yet Walnut Whales still alludes me in my waking day. In spite of this, one fact remains: this dream makes me unquestionably indie.