TANYA DONELLY: Thank you. It is 90% Parkington Sisters.
GM: You and I know a lot of songs, but I knew less than half of the songs on the album so thank you for teaching me some of these.
TD: That makes me feel so good to hear.
GM: Let’s start with Paul McCartney & Wings. When “Jet” was first released in the U.S. as a single, “Manunia” was its flip side. Then on subsequent pressings, “Let Me Roll It” became the flip side in the U.S. as it was in the UK, which is among my favorite songs from their Band on the Run album. I love the original electric guitar part and what is interesting here is a string section instead of the guitar. I was thrilled with that interpretation.
TD: Thank you. I was asked to do a covers album. Initially I was resistant and then I thought about the Parkingtons. All the songs that I would want to sing have been perfectly done in their original form, but if the Parkingtons were the foundation, then it would have a cohesion instead of just a smattering of songs. We were so pleased on how "Let Me Roll It" came together. Rose, Sarah and Ariel bring magic to everything and their beautiful playing makes the whole project fantastic. You can hear violin, viola and mostly cello, from their sister Lydia, as well as Rose's piano on this Wings cover. It made the hair on the back of neck rise. I think the Parkingtons, as well as Jon Evans on guitar and Matthias Bossi on drums, brought some of their best moments on this song together. “Let Me Roll It” and most of the songs on the album are earworms that took root in me. So it is part tribute and part exorcism. This was one of my favorite songs when I was a kid. Both of my parents were big music lovers, so I was surrounded by songs, non-stop, throughout my childhood in the 1960s and 1970s. This song and “Jet” from the Band on the Run album are among my favorites. “Let Me Roll It” is just so musically interesting and is a perfect love song.
Paul McCartney & Wings
Flip side: Let Me Roll It
A side: Jet
Top 100 debut: February 4, 1974
Peak position: 7
GM: You mentioned about being a kid, so let’s go to “Kid” next. I am originally from northeast Ohio like Chrissie Hynde. The first song from The Pretenders that I heard on Cleveland FM radio was their version of The Kinks’ “Stop Your Sobbing,” before they were signed to Reprise. Then the next year I heard “Brass in Pocket” on the radio, but I never bought the first album, so I missed “Kid.” Wow. The musical backdrop flows so nicely and actually reminds me of the pre-Beatles era classic “More” that I know by Steve Lawrence and others.
TD: Oh yeah, wow. This is an exception to the earworm analogy. We were at dinner with friends and “Kid” became a recommendation. The Parkingtons loved that idea. My singing became emotional when I thought about my daughters when recording “Kid,” so you may hear a few tears. My oldest is in college and my youngest is starting high school.
GM: You talked about growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. In the late 1960s, on the radio quite a bit was “Different Drum” by The Stone Poneys with Linda Ronstadt. I bought the 45 and saw that it was written by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees, who I loved so much in elementary school. I was almost ten when that came out. There are strings on the original recording, so your version might be the one on the new album closest to the original and I think that was a good decision.
TD: I think you are right. Part of that has to do with the original instrumentation and we decided not to mess with it because it is just the perfect pop song, a beautiful little bubble. My parents were huge Linda Ronstadt fans and so was I, plus my favorite Monkee wrote it.
GM: Not on the radio in the U.S. around that time, The Kinks continued to make music but there was this big gap in the U.S. Top 40 between 1966’s “Sunny Afternoon” and 1970’s “Lola” in America, including “Days” which I only know from a Kinks compilation album.
TD: I learned of it through a Kirsty MacColl cover, who received airplay here in New England. Her voice sounds so effortless. We all sang this one together, so that one is a fully live track. It is a bouncy song with little bumps and dips. It is built so beautifully.
GM: In 1981, my wife Donna and her co-worker Leeda were planning to drive on a business trip in Texas. For the trip, I bought them a couple of cassettes by new female driven bands, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts and The Go-Go’s. So, we are familiar with “Automatic” from that Go-Go’s Beauty and The Beat cassette. I was excited to see that on the song list.
TD: The Go-Go’s Beauty and The Beat is the first album that I bought with my hard earned babysitting money. I went down to The Music Box in Newport, Rhode Island, and bought it and took it home. On my god! I don’t know how many times I listened to that album on that first day. I just fell in love with them. At the time I was developing my own songwriting. These women showed me that it was okay to stick to the poetic form of pop. “Automatic” sticks out, but there is no way to really pick a favorite Go-Go’s song. All of those women are extraordinary songwriters. The oddness of the rhythm has dark, creepy beauty in the middle of their pop album.
GM: A very beautiful song on the new album is “Dance Me to the End of Love.”
TD: That is my husband Dean's and my song. That Leonard Cohen composition has always been important to us and deeply personal. Leonard Cohen is my favorite lyricist.
GM: In addition to the new album, you have an online series and another one that you taught me, that I think is beautiful, is “Only You,” originally recorded by Yaz.
TD: That is part of my Sunday series of a cover song per week on my Bandcamp page. It is a fundraising series for local club staff and musicians here in the Boston area struggling through the COVID pandemic and others. The week with “Only You” was for a homeless children’s cause. Every week is for a different local cause. All of the songs are taken from suggestions on social media. I have a guest artist with me every week, too. “Only You” was a request from someone about to be married and was looking for a song to be the first dance at their wedding.
GM: I like your version more than the original because the original now sounds dated with a 1980s sound. I think that your version will work at the wedding reception very nicely.
TD: I hope so. I hope that it is what they wanted.
GM: In terms of Boston musicians, in 2018 I was at the Once Somerville club and met your American Laundromat Records label-mate Juliana Hatfield for the release party of her album of Olivia Newton-John covers.
TD: My husband Dean has played with her. That album is so beautiful. I just love it.
GM: A quarter-century ago, in 1995, I bought a CD compilation, when you were in the band Belly. A song that you co-wrote, “Super-Connected,” was on it along with Aimee Mann’s “It’s Not Safe.”
TD: Aimee and I both worked at our local record store chain Newbury Comics, at different stores, which is when I initially met her. I am a huge fan of her music.
GM: I thank you and Joe Spadaro, the founder and president of American Laundromat Records, for the autographed test pressing vinyl albums for our giveaway. These are rarities that our drawing winners will treasure.
TD: You are very welcome. Joe is probably the most ethical person I have worked with in the music business. Everything is completely transparent, upfront and simple. He does a great job and has a great team. He has great relationships and connections because he is such a wonderful person and he is promoting music for all the right reasons, out of musical love. Any project with him is dreamy. Thank you for talking with me and promoting our new album. I am so glad that you like it.
Enter to win a rare autographed vinyl test pressing of the Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters album, courtesy of American Laundromat Records for the Goldmine Giveaway, at the link below by August 31, 2020. They have provided us with two test pressings, both autographed by Tanya Donelly, so your chances are doubled. There will be two (2) lucky winners of the new vinyl album, notified after August 31, 2020, by email. Thank you for participating in our Goldmine Giveaway.