So four whole months into my Vocalist of the Month category, I’ve basically figured out that sometimes it’s gonna be eight thousand words and sometimes it’s gonna be closer to eight. That’s the fun of it.
I had planned for Stevie Nicks to be featured in July but I’m a thought and a half short of finishing a long piece on her, so–in the interests of keeping this blog free of silly deadlines–I decided I would keep it simple and harken back to another, slightly less famous, Brenda Lee acolyte (Stevie took Brenda’s timbre, Glenda took her phrasing).
Collins was known–to the extent she was known at all–for being a sort-of discovery of the legendary British producer Joe Meek (she had recorded before, but he must have thought she had something because he kept trying and he was a man who had kicked David Bowie, the Beatles and Rod Stewart to the curb, among others).
Meek had put a record on top of the American charts two years before the Beatles (“Telstar” by the Tornadoes). He was a contemporary of Phil Spector and fellow mad obsessive, right down to eventually killing an innocent woman to prove he really was crazy, though Meek did it forty years earlier and at least had the decency to off himself immediately afterwards.
Glenda Collins was as good a singer as Meek ever chose to work with, but, truth be told, she was also, for the most part, a good singer in search of an identity.
Just once, though, on a record produced by Meek–and, evidently, recording her vocal in a bathroom–she found the sort of magic that makes rock and roll eternally bottomless.
Like all of her other records–all her pretty good records that is–it was not a hit.
Every time I hear it, I can hear why it wasn’t a hit in this world. And I can also hear why it would have been a smash–the smash I can easily imagine she believed (and had every right to believe) it would be when she heard the playback–in that slightly better world that seems to be resting permanently just out of reach.
Like a lot of one-shot rock and rollers, she’s got a little piece of forever anyway.
As Orson Welles used to say….It only takes one.