Cracking it open, the vinyl barely had time to settle onto the turntable before the first song, "Stillsane" muscled its way through the speakers and was making friends with my ears in no time flat. Song after song followed with great hooks and Carolyne's engaging voice. By the time it hit the ballad "Snow", an absolutely gorgeous song, I was captivated.
Carolyne released several follow-up records but eventually she slipped off the radar of mainstream radio. A few years ago, I got reacquainted with her via the Internet and found a story that is as fascinating as it is tragic.
You'd have to go to her website to read the whole story but suffice to say that her life should be a movie of the week. It's that amazing. Here are a few highlights:
• debut record elicits rave reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone and makes fans of such contemporaries as Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett and Bruce Springsteen (who she performs alongside at a Jersey benefit a few years later)
• a few days after appearing at the benefit, she is attacked by an unknown assailant while sleeping in her home. She is stabbed nine times and is slashed across the neck with a knife. The thief takes her trademark top hat and the Telecaster that she played at the show.
• Much record company drama follows with promises made and broken.
• In debt, she takes several outside jobs such as housecleaning, waitressing and working at a health and nutrition store.
• Germany falls in love with her music and begins a life-long relationship that sees many record deals come and go.
• Shady management "look" after her business to the extent that she sells 250,000 copies of her breakthrough record in Germany, Mas Hysteria, but never sees a dime from the sales.
• After her father dies in 1992, she leaves her career after being appointed as the guardian to an aunt who has Alzheimer's disease in Florida. While there, her husband brings their family of rescued dogs and cats to the new home. Neighbors complain about the animals and after a two year battle, she is forced to relocate to a rural setting.
• After six years of nursing care, her aunt passes away.
• Local government deems her animal sanctuary as illegal (although all bylaws are have been adhered to) and enters the property without warning, euthanizing most of the animals, selling off the rest.
• Due to the questionable practices by the local government, she is advised by her attorney to leave the state and the family moves to the desert.
• She develops crippling arthritis in her hands making it almost impossible to play the guitar and also suffers from Fibromyalgia.
• Years later she finds a naturopathic doctor who diagnoses the cause of the inflammation and the condition disappears almost overnight. She begins playing guitar again and out of the blue, a tour is offered of Germany and Italy. The tour is fraught with problems, however, as Carolyne falls sick and has to cancel several shows. She eventually has to borrow money to return home to the U.S. and has to put her house up for sale.
I'm on Carolyne's mailing list for news and a few weeks back I received a mass email from her that stated she was in a dire financial position and would not be updating very often going forward. She had just registered for public assistance and did not know what the future held for her.
As a fan, I had to get in contact to talk about her amazing career before she faded from the picture totally. When I reached her, she was in better spirits because a contact from her last tour to Germany was possibly putting out a new record by her. Needless to say, our conversation was riveting and it was terrific to finally touch base with Carolyne, whose debut record had made such an impression on me more than 30 years ago.
antiMusic: I'm sorry to hear of recent events and actually when you look at your story, as I'm sure you know, altogether it's one of the most incredible stories I've ever heard.
Carolyne: (laughs). Yeah, and it ain't over yet. (laughs).
antiMusic: That's right.
Carolyne: It's filled with continual ups and downs, which, you get a little tired of it. You know, I just want some down time from the drama and stress and always having to be on high alert, you know? (laughs)
antiMusic: I understand. (chuckles)
Carolyne: But it's really funny because after I wrote the letter yesterday, I received a rather lengthy email through Facebook from a man I had done a recording with in Italy. When I was over there I played, I think 10 or 11 shows in a row. And unbeknownst to me, the bass player knew a guy who has a label and he set up a session without asking me.
So I would have had a day off, which after 9 shows would have been nice, (laughs), but instead I had this 8 hour recording session. And I remember thinking, "Wow, I really don't want to do this and my voice is tired but, if I don't do it, perhaps something good would happen from it." You just don't know. And you can't pass it up because I may be critical of myself. It's not the optimum circumstances, but maybe it's good for somebody else. Life is funny that way. Something that you throw out might be a treasure to someone else.
Carolyne: You just never know. You have to be open to imperfection. And a photograph in time. So I did this session, never really thought much about it other than I was anxious that it was over because I was really tired at that point. I'd had a very gruelling trip and a gruelling run up to the trip because I had experienced all sorts of problems back home with no hot water the week before I left. Then I experienced a 7 hour delay getting into Italy from London Airport, so it was kind of stressful.
So I didn't think about this session again. And I just got this letter from the label guy. I wasn't clear as to whether he got the letter I sent out or whether the bass player who had played with me had read something. But the next thing I know I have this letter and this guy says he wants to put the record out…
Carolyne: And he would start working on it sometime after Easter. And he says to alert the promoter in Germany if he's going to be doing a tour, to somehow coincide it around the release of that. Which I think is going to be throughout Europe. And THEN he said, to help with my situation, he just needs to recoup the cost. And everything will be sent to me to try to pay for my expenses because I still owe a guy 2,500 dollars for my plane ticket. And that makes me feel really uncomfortable because I thought I was going to have it easily, but it just didn't work out that way.
antiMusic: Oh, that's awesome news about the record. So what were the recordings?
Carolyne: Well, you know, Willy Nile, I guess, does pretty well over there. So they had heard some of my posts on YouTube, and I used to do one of his songs. So I was suddenly confronted with being asked to play a song I hadn't played since 1978 at Kenny's Castaways. (laughs). They had the words all ready so I thought, well, what the hell? You know?
So I played that but I did a different kind of version of it because I was having a little bit of trouble since I just had been singing so much, travelling so much and when I was young it was very high. It was a very high key for me. And your voice changes as you get older. So I had to find a way of reworking it, which I did and I did this weird kind of version of that. I did some of the songs that I was playing live during that particular tour, which including Bruce Springsteen's "New York City Serenade".
Carolyne: And then a song of mine called "In a Box" that I actually have up on YouTube. It's just a rough version singing into my laptop. And there was some guitar song. But I'm not sure what all is going to be picked, how many songs there are. There's also one of Steve Forbert's songs called "Witch Blues". My husband was a little upset that I did so many covers but I just did what was easy to sing. I was trying to give myself a break because the bass player was making mistakes. Things had to be done in two or three takes sometimes. So it was like nine hours just singing.
antiMusic: Oh man. Wow.
Carolyne: Ironically, my voice was completely clear the next day. (laughs). But that's probably because I had a good night's sleep. Makes all the difference. But I'm not even entirely sure. I think I did "Under the Boardwalk" just because I was trying to find things that were easy. Also things that the bass player could play because at that point he was still…Americans just seem to have an intrinsic feel for rock and roll, I don't know what it is, but I found it very difficult to play with somebody who isn't from here. They just don't hear it. They don't hear the chord changes which to me are quite simple, repetitious even, in the genre of rock and roll, you know.
antiMusic: Your whole band was made up of locals, is that correct?
Carolyne: Yeah, I always play with people who are from here (the U.S.) and in my experience the times that I've played with people who were…like when I lived in Germany, the German guitar players and the bass players, I usually had to rehearse an awful lot more because they just didn't hear the chord changes the same way. I don't know what it is. There's just something…my husband always says it's in the genes. I mean, he's from Germany, so he just says it's in the genes. It's so natural for people here to play that kind of music and they grew up with it, they're fluent in it.
antiMusic: OK, considering everything that's happened to you, particularly of late, back in the late '70s, if you had any clue this is how your life would unfold, would you still have pursued music for a living?
Carolyne: That's a good question. (laughs). I've wondered this question myself. I mean, I had had an affinity for several things, growing up. There were a lot of things that I DID like, like health. My mother had studied to become a doctor so I had this interest and also a scientific curiosity which my father, having been an inventor was something that he kind of sparked in me. There were things that I was interested in, but just like them, I also had a love of music. Both of them played music and had done some singing and performing in their lives and ended up doing something else.
So I definitely could see it as being a part of someone's life, but not necessarily centre stage. I was so lucky with it when I was really young. I don't think for a moment that I would have seriously considered doing anything else at the time. I was thinking a lot about that in the last couple of days and also remembering the amount of self-confidence that I had which had a lot to do with why I was lucky, I'm sure. It really until I started to get involved in the music industry that I lost a lot of that. It has a way of tarnishing you in a very permanent way.
antiMusic: It seemed like things were on an upswing a few years ago when you managed to bring your arthritis under control. Can you tell us what transpired since that time, including the tour you just returned from?
Carolyne: Yeah, it was last August I think that I stopped eating gluten and actually I stopped eating any of the lectin-producing foods which I had been getting into a little more because they include a lot of other things besides grains. Potatoes, tomatoes will have lectins in them and they can irritate the small intestine which can then cause all sorts of other problems and aggravates a condition that you may already have, like the arthritis in some of my fingers.
The real bad part would be the inflammation. And I think it made it impossible for me to use my hands at times which was very frustration because you want to automatically reach to do things with your hands, and when you can't do it , it's frustrating and you feel very helpless. But the results that I was able to achieve and enjoy was that the inflammation went away almost overnight. It was something else.
And along with the other body pain that I was having, I'm sure that I have something like Fibromyalgia, although I have not been tested for it. The woman I went to was a holistic practitioner and it's almost not necessary to go through all that testing if you, by doing certain things, feel better. It's sort of a moot point. So it coincided ironically with someone emailing me and asking me if I was interested in doing a tour. So I said yes. (laughs).
antiMusic: So this was the first one since when?
Carolyne: I hadn't played since 2006. I played in Italy and I had an offer to go back but I was a caregiver at the time for my mother and my aunt who both had Alzheimer's and I couldn't get away in 2007. At that point I pretty much figured that music was something that I wouldn't be doing anymore. And I devoted my life to taking care of them which seemed like the right thing to do at the time. And then my mother passed away in 2010 so everything started to change again.
antiMusic: What's the current status of your hands and ability to play guitar?
Carolyne: Yeah, everything came back and I have calluses and it's amazing because at one point in Berlin someone asked me to play "Hold On" and that's the song I hadn't actually played, because it has a lot of barre chords. In fact the whole thing is full of barre chords. And I was able to play it. And my hands remembered where to go which amazed me. Maybe all those hundreds of times of playing it many years ago sort of stayed with me, where I could just play it in my sleep.
And I had no problems standing up for one and a half hours, two hours, which I probably wouldn't have been able to do prior to August, because I also have tremendous problems in my knees. This is all familial stuff too. My aunt, my father, we're all very flat footed and have a tendency to prone inwards. This creates a lot of problems especially when you get older. And if you aggravate inflammation with a certain diet, I think it just creates degenerative disease, especially if you have a tendency towards getting it.
antiMusic: So 11 shows in a row…
Carolyne: And then a second tour. (laughs). That was just one tour. That was just Italy. Then I had 4 days and started a tour in Germany.
antiMusic: Tell us about those shows in Germany. How did they come to be and how did they turn out?
Carolyne: The reaction was WAY beyond what I expected. The Italian tour came about when I first talked about the German tour because they were talking about me coming back anyway so I said, well I'm already going to be in the area anyway. Why don't I just come there too? It kind of came about that way. Although I was originally working with a different agent at the very beginning. At some point I took over and I contacted my old agent in Germany and then began to deal with the people in Italy directly myself. So it was two completely separate tours. And somehow it all worked out.
Although the flight was the hardest part, trying to get the money for the flights, which I think up until two weeks before I was supposed to leave, I didn't have. (laughs).
antiMusic: Wow. No bit of pressure there.
Carolyne: (laughs). I knew it would somehow work out but you know, when it was like two weeks out I had to tell them well there's a chance I might not be able to come. But it worked out. But my only sorrow was not coming back with the money so I could pay back this wonderful person who did this. It certainly made everything possible. And anything that happens from this is all because I was able to fly.
antiMusic: I presume that music has been a way of working through your problems at the time. Have you continued to write, even through your various setbacks?
Carolyne: Yeah. Well, I DID write a chapter book about things that happened to me in my life that I was going to do at one point. I was just going to write something like that and have it published. Then I realized that no one would be really interested in a book without an ending, you know? (laughs). So I kinda thought when I went on this past tour that it would be a good way to end that book because it had a sort of hopeful beginning. It goes into depth about some of the things that happened to me that I would probably say that I survived, that I came out intact from, which might be of interest to other people. And may even be of help to some people.
But as far as writing songs, I didn't necessarily write songs. I think I wrote some times just thoughts. Or sometimes just poems, and sometimes just music that might have been something that was totally without a genre. That's the freedom, whenever you don't have a record label, people telling you what to write, you write whatever you feel like writing. Because music to me is everything, it's not just one genre. I mean I grew up being exposed to a lot of different kinds of things and I like all of it.
antiMusic: I know exactly what you mean. It depends on the mood. If you're elated, you want to hear some upbeat stuff. Conversely you might like something a bit more tranquil at times.
Carolyne: Yeah, and it's some of the benefits of playing by yourself, that you can do all that. You can go from one song to another. And I think, I did an interview in Italy where a guy pointed that out. He said, "Well one minute you're doing like a delta blues thing and the next you're doing a ballad, like a show tune and the next minute you're doing something else." And I said, "Wow, that's exactly what I want to do."
I want to do all these things because I know how to and these are all parts of me that yearn to express themselves. I always felt very limited. I knew all the colors of the rainbow. Who would ever always want to speak in green? It's so limiting when there's so much beautiful music and potential for beautiful music to be had.
antiMusic: Well I find all the records that I end up going back to, that I play the most are the ones that have the most variety. As you said, who wants to hear the same thing all the time…I mean like AC/DC or something.
Carolyne: Yeah, exactly.
antiMusic: What do you remember about putting together your first Mercury record?
Carolyne: Well, I actually recorded it even before I had signed the papers. (laughs). Which was very bizarre. Looking back on it I remember a great deal of it being fairly out of my control. I was young and was surrounded with a network of men and they had a tendency to take over and before you know it you're kind of singing on your own record but you don't really feel like it's yours.
I think Hold On, I definitely felt it was more my record because I had already been on tour away from my manager and became my own person outside of him. And then went to the studio directly after so I already had a relationship with the band and my manager was almost not even welcomed because it had nothing to do with him. He was business and we were the musicians. And I think when you first make a record…especially when you're a woman and you're young…and you have an older manager who has this patriarchal sort of role, it's very easy to get left out of any of the decisions.
So I was able to capitalize on the fact that I had the band on my side and I had this touring experience now so I could actually go in the studio and I wasn't such a novice and I could have a little more control. I had more of a relationship with the players and even the producers and the engineers by then so I could articulate myself with a lot more self confidence.
antiMusic: Tell us about "Sadie Says" and was Sadie based on an actual person?
Carolyne: No, that was one of the songs I wrote with David Landau and he had that hook. That was his hook as was "Quote Goodbye Quote" and I just filled it in with some of the youthful angst that I was experiencing at the time. Our way of writing, which we did again…I think we wrote 5 songs when he came to see me in Germany in 1990. "Keep Searching" on Reason Street that is an album that was released in Germany is a prime example of this as well. He'll have a chorus or part of a chorus then I'll just come up with the rest of it and that's basically how "Sadie Says" and "Quote Goodbye Quote" were.
So I never asked him who Sadie was. (laughs). But there's a woman who has some sort of a yoga program or some sort of how-to program that a guy who used to run my fan club guy told me about. And he used to go to school with this woman whose daughter now has this program called Sadie Says. And this woman has my record so he's sure she has it from that song. So I actually wrote on YouTube, "Hey, I wrote that song "Sadie Says", but I never got a response. (laughs).
antiMusic: Do you remember writing "Snow" which is quite possibly my favorite song by you?
Carolyne: Yes I do. There was a snowstorm in New York that would have been maybe January of '78 and I was living on Cornelia Street. And I remember taking my acoustic guitar and playing it, standing in the middle of the street. (laughs). That was not a big busy street, but a tiny little street. And you know, a lot of musicians and everybody knew me and it was kind of okay. (laughs).
There were people going down Bleeker Street with those cross country skis. Yeah, it was a tremendous amount of snow for New York City and everything was kind of at a standstill. It was really beautiful and it takes a lot to pull the rug out from New York City because the place is always moving. But the snow, especially downtown, just brought everything to a standstill and it was really wonderful and quiet. It had this kind of puffiness and softens so it was beautiful.
antiMusic: How many takes was it for the vocal because that part where you go from the low note to the high note, that slide is just gorgeous.
Carolyne: Oh thank you. That record was done very quickly. I don't recall having done too many takes of anything, especially a song like that because I had been singing it live for such a long time. Well a long time was a year when I was a kid. (laughs). You know, "Oh, I've been singing it FOREVER!" And it's been a year and a half. (laughs). But I had been playing it live with the little band that I had at the time in the summer of 1978 that was a song that people liked a lot and I would play it live.
antiMusic: You got quite a buzz going on initially playing at places like CBGBs. Including some hefty accolades and comparisons which may or may not have been appreciated by you. What was it like to get this big build-up, flattering or intimidating?
Carolyne: Probably not really intimidating or flattering. I think it was troubling because I kind of felt I wasn't being seen for myself. I remember playing at a New York radio station and it was before I had a record deal so it would have been April of 1979. I remember when we got there, there was that whole thing about me being a female Bruce Springsteen. And I remember David Landau pulling my manager aside and yelling at him, like "this is got to stop" or something to that effect. But it was kind of too late because I mean wherever it originated it was already too late.
So it began to be like a plague and the record company, I'm not sure if they then ran with it, but it was out of control to the point where I actually did an in-store appearance…I don't remember what city it was…and they took me to the stock room when I arrived there at the record store, and everybody came up to me and were like "Oh, what's it like being the female Bruce Springsteen?"
At one point I excused myself to go to the bathroom and I walked out. I left through the line up (laughs). And I remember calling David Landau, saying I can't handle this anymore. And he just gave me his fatherly advice to learn how to say no to things.
But it was already happening. I did an interview in Paris and I had Bernie Shanahan playing keyboards, who was my husband at the time. He was filling in for Robbie Condor, right before Charlie Giordano starting playing with me, and we went to this interview and all they said was, "Oh is it true that David Landau is playing with you and he's Jon Landau's brother" And I said, "Yes." And they said, then it's true also that Clarence Clemmons is Crispin Cioe. Their initials are both CC. But how absurd is that? What does that have to do with anything?
But I remember then Bernie leaning over to me, saying, "Let's get out of here. They're queuing up the Mitch Rider medley". (laughs). It was too much at one point. I remember hearing later that the first record had pretty much fallen on its face because they over hyped it and it turned off some people because of the over hype and they did not go to smaller markets so when the record started to fall they weren't there to catch it because they were pissed off that they hadn't been approached in the first place. So there was no bottom for this record. It just went all the way up and down just as fast. That was something that I never recovered from. Nice to know these people have your life in their hands. (laughs). And they can go on to the next thing, but you can't.
antiMusic: I've read that "Sittin' In the Dark" sometimes stretches past 18 minutes live. How did this song evolve from when you first wrote it or was it always intended to incorporate a certain amount of improvisation?
Carolyne: Well again, I wrote that one with David Landau. It started out as a joke because my apartment was very dark. I had these 12 foot ceilings and I couldn't change the light bulbs and I always had candles. So we started writing this really funny song and I think what happened then at a rehearsal, I started playing this piano part. Or he started playing dant dan and I started to play dan dant dan dah on the piano. And we thought, hey that sounds good. Why don't we do that song?
So it's on the first record and somehow it evolved live because I wanted to let the people in the band feel like they were more than just hacks playing my tunes. I wanted to feel as if they could express themselves individually as players. So that's how it really started; it was to give them space, and some ability to just play beyond chords. And it was also a break for me from singing in the middle of the show. I play that by myself now.
antiMusic: Wow. Is that right?
Carolyne: Yeah. (laughs). Yeah I play it by myself and people really like it. It was a highlight in the show
antiMusic: It must end up being what, 8 9 minutes then just you.
Carolyne: Oh probably because I do a scat thing in the middle
antiMusic: Oh cool.
Carolyne: And then it's different every time. I should go back and look at the timing about how long it lasts. Because I did do it on a radio station and then I did do it on a recording I have from Italy on this. So I think it's not as short as I would have thought. I was thinking, well, this is going to be a 2 minute song, you know. But it's really okay. And it was enough. It was enough to satiate the people who wanted to hear that song and I was afraid that it wouldn't be but it's really okay. I first played it by myself in Italy in 2006 on a whim and it worked enough for me to know that I would be able to play it when I went to Germany, which is really a place where you have to play it. Because it was a huge hit over there.
antiMusic: So what's the connection with Germany? Why did you all of a sudden break out there and not South America or something? Why did they latch on to you, do you know at all?
Carolyne: Well it was television and this Mas Hysteria record which was originally pressed looking like a bootleg, for some reason. I think it was originally supposed to be a limited edition, a limited pressing because it was supposed to be a promotional device and it had this mystique about it. It coincided with a TV appearance and a very, very big radio show that I did, of which there is film for, with the Boomtown Rats for 30 thousand people. That would have been January of '81. There were these two dates in a row.
The record was out and that was probably the most important thing I ever did because…but I didn't find out about it until some 8 years later, after my manager had run off with any money that might have been handed out. But it's a gift that kept giving in the sense that I was able to go back there and live there for 4 years and play. So even though I never saw money from it, at all, it gave me possibilities which maybe is even better.
I'm still able to go there now. As a matter of fact, I mean think about it, I didn't play for 20 years in Germany, had no records out but I still had people coming to gigs after that period of time. Not only that but I hurt my knee in Italy and I opted for wheelchair transport at the airport and the guy who picked me up, he was a huge fan. And he said they play "Sitting in the Dark", every Friday at one of these dance clubs in Bremen where I landed. So yeah, if you go on my Facebook you'll see a picture of him at the airport because he was there when I arrived in Bremen and he was there when I left. And we're friends now. (laughs).
He's a really nice guy. And it's one of those things. I'll probably know this guy the rest of my life, and it's just from that simple thing. But I was telling him, yeah, I'm here for a tour. My name is Carolyne Mas. He was like CAROLYNE MAS! And I was thinking, oh, maybe Germany will be okay now. This guy knows me. Maybe I'm not completely forgotten.
And I think that the booking agent was maybe a little bit afraid that I wouldn't have any people so it was a real risk. Because it had been a long time. Maybe people my age are couch potatoes there too. So I think he was afraid me playing by myself would be more the singer-songwriter stuff than more of the younger people are into. But it turned out okay. And the people were accepting of my piano stuff which I didn't think that they would be so it was a surprise all around.
Yeah, I tell ya. I really like travelling without a band a lot more anyway because you only have to worry about yourself getting yourself up and getting from place to place. I like a quiet time. I like to go to the gig (but) I'm quiet before I go on. I do my stuff. I sell cds and sign stuff after. And then I go back to the room and go to sleep. So when you don't have a bunch of other people it's much easier to do that.
antiMusic: Yeah, you don't have to count heads.
Carolyne: Right. Or wake people up. I'll tell you something. I took my 10 year old son with me and it was easier getting him ready in the morning than it was some of these other people ready.
antiMusic: Having heard some stories about musicians on the road, I can only imagine. (laughs)
Carolyne: (laughs) Yeah, getting them to get up or they didn't get the time right or they haven't been home yet…stuff you have to worry about and it's kind of really nice when you're on stage by yourself and you can talk and you can change the set. You can try something out. It ends up being extremely intimate, wonderful. I enjoyed it very much.
antiMusic: Back in the day you actually played with Springsteen. Have you had contact with him or that crowd since then?
Carolyne: No. I haven't seen anybody in a million years. I did the 3M benefit with him in 1986 at the Stone Pony, like a week before I was stabbed. He played my Telecaster which was stolen one week later. But no, I'm out of the loop with any of those people. I don't see any of them. I don't have any dealing in music at all in the States.
Well I'm in Arizona and I haven't been in that crowd or area since the mid '80s. And people, you know, they forget you and you move on. It was always a very clique kind of place anyway. So I guess I was just one less. (laughs). I don't know. Very competitive. Very clique. And after I was stabbed, that's when I left the area.
Soon after that I was on my way to Germany and a much better career and more appreciation than I had here for sure. I mean just having come back from Italy and Germany, it's the same. But I hear this from many musicians. You know trying to play in the same clubs in New York, many of them have djs now. Or busting their butt and don't get anything for it but then go to Europe and get treated with some sort of respect and their music is appreciated. So it's just that it's a shame. You know my husband put it in such a great way. He says they have a real appreciation of what they think of as Americana, something that doesn't even exist here anymore.
And it is a shame that people have to go. But there's an appreciation. I think if I made a record here, it probably wouldn't get any airplay. I think there's a lot of ageism. You don't have that in Europe. I never heard any kind of criticism at all about my age, or "if only she had been younger." But I almost expect those things here.
antiMusic: Yes, unfortunately yes.
Carolyne: And I think it's especially cruel to women.
antiMusic: Actually you just jumped into my next question. You've heard so many lies from your time in the music industry. What are your impressions of how it currently runs and how women in music are presented / treated?
Carolyne: You know, I don't think it's changed at all. I still think it's the same. Whenever you look around you and you see that the women…I think the introduction of push-up bras (laughs) was the most despicable thing ever. (laughs) Because if people think that they're liberated, they have to walk around like a slut or somehow that's liberating, I don't think so.
I just think that women have learned how to accept degrading themselves and I don't watch MTV but if I open a magazine or I go on AOL and look at the latest news and I just see a female artist, I'm just thinking, how did we get to this place? Whatever happened to what women were looking for at one point? It's just, any kind of counter culture from what was going on in the '70s kind of disappeared. Everything sort of melding with fashion and mainstream and television and merchandising, it's all sort of one thing now. And there really isn't anything outside of that box.
And if that box can maintain a certain status quo that keeps people in line in a certain kind of way or keeps them consuming then that's what's going to be promoted. And I think in a lot of ways, as far as women, there's a certain kind of insecurity that's promoted that creates a desire for things like plastic surgery or self doubt because there's a lot of money in those things.
I think it's disappointing and I think you don't have that same sort of thinking when you go to Europe. You do have a lot more respect for women and a lot more healthy relationships between men and women and what they expect from each other. I don't know what's going on in this country. I think it's very lost in that respect.
I don't know if you agree with me or not (laughs) but I've been doing some radical thinking along those terms. There's a really good book called The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolfe that I really like. I think she's a great writer and she does talk about this kind of thing and this particular kind of insecurity that has been created in women and I don't like to see it. You see all these women having to be blond and having to all look the same way. And I'll see a woman with a low slung guitar on the Internet and I'll click on the link and then I'll see her performance picture or video and she doesn't even play. It's all just manufactured for the viewer. It's the same story over and over again,
It's sad. It's very, very sad. To a large extent the same sort of story happens to men, with your Justin Bieber and just some very plastic people. Everything has been mainstreamed.
antiMusic: I was going to ask you if you could envision new music in the near future but you've already told us about the upcoming record. That's excellent news.
Carolyne: Yeah, it would be great if I could do a real studio record, I mean with real people, bringing them in and taking the time. But perhaps that will be afterward.
antiMusic: Exactly. You just need to stir the pot and get your name back out there in front of people where it should be.
Carolyne: Yeah. It would be a contrast to what I'm doing now. (laughs) You know I'm really struggling and it's really difficult. I'm actually going to try to get public assistance. What do I do, say "I just came back from a tour of Europe and I've got a record coming out in like July and all I need is some public assistance until then." (laughs)
You know it's crazy. I'll have to print out my Pay Pal which will show the occasional donations but then it'll show 25 hundred dollars but that's for my plane flight. And I have to go in there and explain all this stuff because I'm not asking for a permanent hand out. I'm asking for temporary help. And (laughs) it's such a strange situation, it's going to be very funny going there.
And they ask you also for proof of education for your vocation. So what I'll have to do is print my web page and bring some records with me. This is what I've been doing for 41 years. (laughs) I'm not going to go to vocational school to learn to put screws in something so I can get a factory job. I'm sure there's nothing around here anyway. There are more cows than people where I am.
Once in a while I'll put my picture on Google Earth of where I live on my timeline on stage, just to remind people of where I am because when you live out here there is no part-time job. There's nothing. There's no place. There's no stores. There's absolutely nothing. So it's difficult. I moved here to get away from a situation that was very bad for me in Florida and it seemed like a good idea at the time. But after a certain amount of time it stops being a good thing. It becomes a form of isolation.
antiMusic: Yeah, and by that time you're cornered so what do you do?
Carolyne: Right. Exactly. I'm running out of things to sell and this is why the tour came, at almost a serendipitous time because it was right around a time when I was thinking, boy I don't really have anything left to sell. How am I going to live? And it just came out of nowhere. So if I can continually build these little bridges one after the other, maybe eventually I won't have to anymore. That's what I'm hoping for. Or whatever I end up doing then I won't have to be constantly building these bridges to one week of survival to the next.
antiMusic: I know exactly what you mean.
Carolyne: (laughs) Yeah, it's difficult. It's exhausting. I would love to have one week without stress. Despite all the stress there was on the tour, it was still preferable to the kind of stress where you don't know where your next meal is coming from. There's no worse stress than that. Or the phone. I'm going to lose my phone in the next couple of days, but that almost doesn't seem bad compared to all the other things I could be losing. (laughs) It's tough. I mean, we all could use a break, right?
antiMusic: Absolutely. Well that's all the questions I have for you Carolyne. Is there anything else that's coming up for you that we should know about?
Carolyne: No, that's it. I'm really exciting about this thing but I've kind of learned how to not rely on these things as well. After someone tells you that Christmas is coming and you keep looking out the window and it's not true…(laughs)….you stop looking out the window. I'll believe it when I see it kind of thing. I hate to be cynical but it's the kind of business that forces you to be that way. I never used to be that way. That's sad.
Yeah it would be nice to still believe in Santa Claus. (laughs) But you do have to protect yourself, which is why I was astounded in a way that I got this guy's letter yesterday because it really didn't take long after I sent the other one to start getting a reply. Then I felt like writing an addendum to it and sending out to people that I have this record company. Then I thought, you know, I'll wait until it's coming out. (laughs) I don't want to tell them one more disappointing story. (laughs)
antiMusic: Thank you so much for taking the time. It was a real thrill and pleasure to speak with you
Carolyne: Ah likewise. It was a pleasure as well.
Morley and antiMusic thank Carolyne for taking the time to speak with us.
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