lifeblood: faq (frequently asked questions)


(back in days of the listserv@netspace.org e-mail list jen lucero, christopher becker, sherlyn koo, deb reiser and dwayne jarrell created and maintained this well researched faq, where even the most devoted fans would likely find something new and interesting. the last known update by that group was published on june 9, 1997. in march of 2020 work began to bring the faq up to date and to keep it current moving forward, if you would like to contribute information to that effort please e-mail underdog@earthlink.net. enjoy : ) )


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indigo girls: frequently asked questions

version 4.05

last modified: 10 april 2021.


table of contents

what's new in this faq
history / biography
recent indigo girls news
where to find information about indigo girls
questions about amy and emily
general questions about indigo girls' music
questions about "strange fire"
questions about "indigo girls"
questions about "nomads*indians*saints"
questions about "rites of passage"
questions about "swamp ophelia"
questions about "4.5"
questions about "1200 curfews"
questions about "shaming of the sun"
questions about "come on now social"
questions about "all that we let in"
official singles
other song related questions
miscellaneous questions


what's new in this faq

april 10, 2021 - moved the song links to the songs page, and the videos links to the videos page.


history / biography

emily saliers was born in new haven, connecticut on july 22nd, 1963. the following year, her future musical partner amy ray was born in atlanta, on april 12th, 1964. when emily was in sixth grade, her family moved to decatur, georgia. emily was enrolled in laurel ridge elementary school where amy was attending fifth grade. when amy and emily were both in high school, they began playing together under the names "saliers and ray" and "the b-band"; their first rehearsals were for a school talent show. later the two progressed to playing open mike nights at local bars, despite being underage. in 1981, the b-band recorded a tape called "tuesday's children" in amy's basement. the tape consisted mostly of cover songs, with an additional original song from each of them. in 1982 amy recorded "color me grey", a solo tape consisting of entirely original material.

when emily graduated from high school she enrolled at tulane university in new orleans, majoring in english. amy moved to nashville a year later to study english and religion at vanderbilt university. dissatisfied with life away at school, both emily and amy moved back to atlanta to attend emory university in 1984, and the two resumed playing together regularly. in 1985 they adopted the name "indigo girls"; amy picked the word "indigo" out of the dictionary because she thought it sounded "cool". that same year, indigo girls made their recording debut with an independently released 7" single "crazy game"/"everybody's waiting (for someone to come home)" and a mostly-live cassette called "blue food". at around the same time, amy released an updated version of "color me grey", including an early version of her song "nashville".

in 1986, indigo girls released a self-titled six-track ep which was produced by frank french and engineered by kristen hall. local atlanta musicians who contributed to the record included dede vogt, michelle malone and caroline aiken. at around this time, amy and emily met their future manager russell carter, who told them that he didn't see indigo girls getting a record deal because their songs were "immature". nevertheless, the next year amy and emily went on to record their first full length album "strange fire" and took russell on as manager soon after.

indigo girls were signed to epic records in 1988. "indigo girls", their first major-label album, was released in february 1989. guest artists on the album included rem, hothouse flowers and luka bloom. "closer to fine", the first single, peaked at #52 on the billboard chart. the album reached as high as #22, remained in the chart for 35 weeks, and was certified gold in september 1989. "strange fire" was re-released by epic in november 1989 with a rearranged track listing. an early version of "blood and fire" and emily's "high horse" were dropped and the two songs were replaced by a cover of the youngbloods' "get together". also that year, "indigo girls" won a grammy award in the category "best contemporary folk recording". the duo was also nominated for a grammy award in the category "best new artist".

"live at the uptown lounge", a concert/interview video filmed in athens, georgia, was released in january 1990.

"nomads*indians*saints", indigo girls' second epic album, was released that september. the album featured guest appearances by mary chapin carpenter, bassist sara lee and ellen james society, an atlanta rock band. the first single from the album, "hammer and a nail", was nominated for a grammy award in the category "best contemporary folk recording". during 1990, amy also started her own independent record label, daemon records.

"back on the bus, y'all", an eight-song ep recorded live in concert at notre dame university, west georgia college and the uptown lounge, was released in june 1991 and was nominated for a grammy award in the category "best contemporary folk album". in december 1991, "nomads*indians*saints" was certified gold and "indigo girls" was certified platinum, almost three years after its release. "rites of passage" was released in may 1992. the album debuted at #22 on the billboard album chart. that september it was certified gold after spending twelve weeks on the chart. among the guest artists on "rites of passage" were jackson browne, david crosby, drummer jerry marotta and the roche sisters.

amy and emily went into the studio in november 1993 to begin recording "swamp ophelia". in january 1994, the soundtrack to the movie "philadelphia" was released, including indigo girls' cover of danny whitten's "i don't wanna talk about it". in march indigo girls began filming for the movie "boys on the side" which starred whoopi goldberg, mary louise parker and drew barrymore. "swamp ophelia", which featured appearances by jane siberry, cellist jane scarpantoni and amy's father larry ray, was released in may 1994. it debuted at #9 on the billboard album chart and six weeks later, in june, was certified gold. later that year, "swamp ophelia" was also nominated for a grammy award in the category "best contemporary folk recording". amy and emily also took part that year in an atlanta-based revival of andrew lloyd webber's musical "jesus christ superstar" with emily playing mary magdalene and amy taking the part of jesus.

the "best of" album "4.5" was released outside the us in july 1995. in october of that year the live album "1200 curfews" was released. the album featured choice performances selected from concert tapes by amy and emily themselves and some rarer material such as "back together again" from the early b-band tape. the video compilation "watershed" was released at the same time. "watershed" contained all the song videos which had been made up to that point plus additional exclusive concert, interview and home video footage. after a break of roughly a year during which indigo girls made only a few live appearances, amy and emily went back on the road for three weeks in august 1996 to "road test" a batch of new songs. in september 1996, indigo girls went into the studio to begin recording their next album. also during september, "swamp ophelia" was certified platinum. around november 1996, both "strange fire" and "1200 curfews" were certified gold.

"shaming of the sun", indigo girls' sixth studio album, was released on april 29, 1997 and debuted at #7 on the us album chart. guest artists on the album include jerry marotta, sara lee, native american group ulali and members of atlanta bands smoke and the rock*a*teens. also around april, "indigo girls" was certified double-platinum. in late may 1997, amy and emily began the first leg of the "shaming of the sun" support tour. the first single from the album, amy's song "shame on you", eventually hitting # 15 on the top 40 chart. a second single, "get out the map", failed to chart. the final single from "shaming of the sun" was "shed your skin" released in 1998, which peaked at #36 on the dance charts. "shed your skin" was the basis for a groundbreaking performance of the indigo girls with the atlanta ballet.

"come on now social" was the seventh studio album, released september 28, 1999. this album is usually cited by both amy and emily as their personal favorite from their catalogue. it peaked at #34 on the billboard charts. two singles were released from this record. "peace tonight" just broke the top 40 (peaking at #40) and was the last indigo girls single to chart. "go" was released but did not chart.

between indigo girls projects "come on now social" in 1999 and "become you" in 2002, amy ray released her first solo album, the punk influenced "stag" on march 6, 2001. backed by the butchies, the rockateens, and joan jett, among others, "stag" appeared on amy's own daemon records label.

"become you", the eighth studio album was released march 12, 2002. it marked a return to a more acoustic sound, and spawned four single releases: "moment of forgiveness" "become you" "hope alone/bitterroot" and "our deliverance". while none of the singles charted, the album itself reached a peak chart position of #30.

in 2003, indigo girls were inducted into the georgia music hall of fame. they were on hand to accept the honor, and performed "become you" for those in attendance.

"all that we let in", released february 17, 2004, was the final studio album for epic records. packaged with sleeve artwork by comic book artist jaime hernandez, it was also released without any single or videos to support it. nevertheless, it peaked on the album charts at #35.

the final release for indigo girls on the epic label was the collection "rarities" on june 14, 2005. rarities featured an assortment of live tracks and demos. rarities reached a top chart position of #159.


recent indigo girls news

[may 24, 2020]

the newest indigo girls album "look long" was released on may 22, 2020

the album is being released with a broad variety of merchandise and exclusives, from signed test pressings to shirts. many of these can be found in the indigo girls official store.

the "look long" tour is scheduled to begin with band support, including lyris hung, jeff fielder, and brady blade.

for official information on upcoming concert dates, visit http://www.indigogirls.com
and https://www.facebook.com/theindigogirls/.


where to find information about indigo girls

4.1. where can i find indigo girls concert dates?

for official information on upcoming concert dates, visit http://www.indigogirls.com
and https://www.facebook.com/theindigogirls/.

4.2. is there an address where i can write to the indigo girls, or an official fan club or e-mail list?

write to amy or emily:
indigo girls c/o russell carter management 567 ralph mcgill boulevard ne, atlanta, ga 30312

subscribe to official e-mail announcements including tour schedules, merchandise information, and other messages:
http://www.indigogirls.com
https://www.amy-ray.com
http://emilysaliers.com

4.3. where can i find information about indigo girls?

the official indigo girls website: http://www.indigogirls.com
the official indigo girls facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/theindigogirls/
the official indigo girls twitter account: https://twitter.com/indigo_girls
the official indigo girls instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/indigogirlsmusic/
the official indigo girls tumblr account: https://indigogirlsblog.tumblr.com/
the official indigo girls youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/indigogirls

the official amy ray website: https://www.amy-ray.com
the official amy ray facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/amyraydaemon/
the official amy ray instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/amyraymusic/
the official amy ray youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/amyraymusic
the official daemon records website: https://www.daemonrecords.com/

the official emily saliers website: http://emilysaliers.com
the official emily saliers facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/emilysaliers/
the official emily saliers twitter account: https://twitter.com/emilysaliers
the official emily saliers instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/emilysaliers/
the official emily saliers youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuC3NCZi7D_KfVPzu06jNBw
the official emily saliers patreon site: https://www.patreon.com/emilysaliers/posts

the fan owned indigo girls fan talk facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/groups/759329907560840/
the fan owned kay's indigo girls collection facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/indigogirlscollector/
the fan owned indigo girls guitar chords and tab website: http://adamschneider.net/music/indigo_girls/
the fan owned lifeblood website: http://www.lifeblood.net
chords to indigo girls songs at ultimate-guitar.com: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/search.php?search_type=title&value=indigo%20girls
chords to amy ray songs at ultimate-guitar.com: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/search.php?search_type=title&value=amy%20ray
chords to emily saliers songs at ultimate-guitar.com: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/search.php?search_type=title&value=emily%20saliers

4.4. where can i chat real-time with other indigo girls fans?

the fan owned indigo girls fan talk facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/groups/759329907560840/


questions about amy and emily

5.1. when were amy and emily born?

amy - 12 april 1964

emily - 22 july 1963

5.2. what are amy and emily's middle names?

amy's middle name is elizabeth; emily's is ann.

5.3. do amy and emily have brothers and sisters?

both amy and emily come from four-children families. amy has two older sisters and a younger brother; emily is the second-eldest of four girls.

5.4. are amy and emily christian?

when asked about their religious beliefs in a 1990 interview in the cooper point journal, school paper of evergreen state college, amy said, "we were brought up methodist. i was a religion major and emily's dad is a methodist minister and a theology professor. but we don't consider our songs geared toward christianity. we consider them geared toward a spirituality that no matter what faith you have, you can relate to them. we don't want to alienate anybody because we don't believe in seeing specifically through one faith. so [religion] plays a big part in our music but not in the way that some christians would want it to play."

5.5. are amy and emily both gay? have they been involved with each other?

amy and emily are both openly gay although in the past they have not always been identified as such by the mainstream media.

in the 1996 newport folk festival program amy states, "i always think of [emily] as the perfect best friend. i guess one of the reasons we've always been like this is that we've always had the same kind of relationship. the nature of it never changed - we never had a sexual encounter - we never had a real conflict - we were always just completely friends."

both amy and emily have long term partners. amy and her partner carrie schrader are parents to a daughter named ozilline graydon, born in november of 2013. emily is married to tristin chipman and they are parents to a daughter named cleo, born in november of 2012.

5.6. what does the tattoo on amy's forearm mean?

amy explained the tattoo in in fashion magazine (circa 1989): "this is spiritual, and it's blue for charity; this is compassion; this is intellectual grounding; this is the love of the earth; this is the center of the soul..."

niki pantelias, founder of the original indigo girls mailing list, also reported in a november 1990 posting to the list that amy had said that the tattoo was the sioux indian symbol for love inside a hand, and "basically it means love".

amy also has a large tattoo on her back, one on her chest, and two on her left arm.

emily has a tattoo of the infinity symbol on her right wrist, the letter "t" on her left wrist, and a portrait of her mother on her left arm.

5.7. what instruments can amy and emily play?

amy - acoustic, 12-string, electric and slide guitars, mandolin, piano, melodica, ukelele, bouzouki, harmonica, banjo

emily - acoustic, classical, electric, 12-string and slide guitars, banjo, dobro, dulcimer, bass guitar, bouzouki, piano, keyboards, hurdy gurdy, harmonium

5.8. who are amy and emily's musical influences?

amy has been influenced by artists such as the replacements, husker du and neil young; emily has stated that her biggest songwriting influence was joni mitchell and that her literary inspirations include the writings of virginia woolf. both amy and emily have said they have been influenced by bob dylan and also profess admiration for jane siberry and ferron. in addition, they both enjoy reading the works of william faulkner.


general questions about indigo girls' music

6.1. who is in the indigo girls touring band?

amy and emily have toured as a duo and with a band:

1990-1991
sara lee - bass, pennywhistle, vocals

1990 - the ellen james society
bryan lilje - bass
cooper seay - guitar, vocals
chris mcguire - guitar, vocals
scott bland - drums

1992-1998
budgie - drums (1992)
gail ann dorsey - vocals, bass (1994)
jane scarpantoni - cello, pennywhistle (1992)
jerry marotta - drums, percussion, pennywhistle, saxophone, vocals (1992-1998)
sara lee - bass, pennywhistle, vocals (1991-1998)
scarlet rivera - violin (1992)

1999-2009
blair cunningham - drums (2000)
brady blade - drums, percussion (2002-2004)
carol isaacs - organ, synthesizer, keyboards, accordion, vocals (1999-2007)
caroline dale - cello (1999)
caroline lavelle - cello (2000)
clare kenny - bass, vocals (1999-2007)
john reynolds - drums (1999)
julie wolf - keyboards, accordion, vocals (2008-2011)
matt chamberlain - drums (2006-2009)

2010-2011
julie wolf - accordion, piano, vocals

2012-2016
benjamin ryan williams - bass (2012-2016)
jaron pearlman - drums (2012-2016)
lyris hung - violin (2012-present)

2016-present
lyris hung - violin (2012-present)

2020-present
brady blade - drums, percussion (2020-present)
jeff fielder - guitar, vocals (2020-present)
lyris hung - violin (2012-present)

other guests who have appeared on occasion include:

barbara marino - saxophone
becky warren - vocals
brandi carlile - guitar, vocals
caroline aiken - guitar, vocals
kristen hall - guitar, vocals
josh segal - acoustic guitar, electric, guitar, bass clarinet, violin, mandolin, vocals
lucy wainwright roche - vocals
matt chamberlain - drums
michael lorant - percussion, vocals, saxophone, clarinet
michelle malone - mandolin, electric guitar, vocals
sandy garfinkle - harmonica, vocals
sheila doyle - violin
trina meade - vocals

6.2. what other music appears in the background of indigo girls songs?

in addition to their own unique harmonies, indigo girls have also integrated other tunes into their music. these include:

"mary had a little lamb" at the beginning of the guitar solo in "center stage", also hummed softly as amy sings "a joker's dance before the king"

a hymn, "let us break bread", at the end of "hammer and a nail" "twinkle twinkle little star" in "world falls", as amy sings "i'm laughing..."

beethoven's "ode to joy", as part of the guitar solo in "cedar tree"

a hymn, "this is my father's world" (also known as "this is our "father's house"), as the cornet solo in "hey kind friend", also played on dulcimer near the end of the song

other music which amy and emily have incorporated into their songs include a chopin nocturne at the end of "this train revised" and the native american hymn emily sings at the end of "jonas and ezekial".

6.3. have amy and emily ever written any songs together, or with other people?

amy and emily generally write separately and then collaborate on the harmonies and instrumental arrangements of their songs. however, there are a few songs that they have written together:

"i don't know your name" from "blue food" (1985)

"if you live like that" from "blue food" (1985)

"blood quantum" from "honor1: a benefit for the honor the earth campaign" (1996)

songs that they have written with other people include:

"grace" by sara lee and harvey jones with lyrics by emily, released on "make it beautiful" (righteous babe) (2000) (listen)

"i don't wanna know" by amy and michelle malone

"i'll give you my skin" from "tame yourself" (1991), by amy, emily and michael stipe

"1 2 3" by amy and the members of ellen james society

"hope alone" by emily saliers and annie roboff

"locked up" by emily saliers and lyris hung

"serpant love" by emily saliers and lyris hung

"match" by emily saliers and kristen hall

"gone" by emily saliers and annie roboff


questions about "strange fire"

7.1. what is strange fire?

as in all indigo girls songs, specific symbolism is left as an open question. for example, some believe "strange fire" is a reference to the christian celebration of pentecost (the empowerment of the 12 apostles by the holy spirit), while others see a reference to milton. there are countless interpretations; however, most center about a common theme, that of an ineffable spirit which can strengthen and actuate those who possess it.

7.2. who are the people in the photograph on the "strange fire" insert?

the photograph was taken at the little five points pub in atlanta. the people in the picture are amy's and emily's families, the manager and staff of the pub and, in the back, the musicians who played on the album. there are also photographs of family members who couldn't be there that day on some of the tables.

7.3. where was the photo on the cover of "strange fire" taken?

mount zion african methodist episcopal church, 2977 lavista road in decatur, georgia.

7.4. what does "you remind me of shallot" mean?

although she admits to misspelling the name in the lyrics, emily is referring to alfred lord tennyson's poem "the lady of shalott". in the poem, shalott was a mythical island which lay upriver from king arthur's camelot. a curse lay upon the lady of shalott, that some unknown fate would befall her should she look outside the castle. so, she stayed within her walls and wove "a magic web with colours gay" through which she watched the world. one day sir lancelot came riding down the riverbank by the castle. the lady spied him in her magic web and, drawn to him, left her loom and looked out through her window. the poem ends with the body of the lady, slain by her curse, floating down the river through camelot in a boat.

7.5. who is talking at the end of "i don't wanna know"?

amy and michelle malone. it is very hard to make out what they are saying although michelle can be heard saying, "hey, hey, get off the stage," "loosen up," and "i can't talk to ya, i gotta go - i gotta go, okay." either amy or michelle also says, "over one billion served."


questions about "indigo girls"

8.1. what is "secure yourself" about?

"secure yourself" is about the spiritual journey into heaven. the song was inspired by amy's grief when one of her cats died.

8.2. what is "kid fears" about?

on a scholastic books interview tape circulated in early 1997 amy said, "i wrote kid fears thinking about a few of my friends that had been through very painful experiences when they were young - abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse - by parents or friends or, you know, peers in school. and i was comparing that to the fact that the things that i was afraid of as a child you know was the ghost under the bed, it wasn't my dad coming in to beat me up, and there's a big difference between that."

8.3. why doesn't amy sing "blood and fire" anymore?

"blood and fire" is a very intense and emotional song and amy does not perform it anymore because she does not want to revisit the feelings that went into writing (and performing) the song. she has stated that if she were to sing the song now, it would be dishonest.


questions about "nomads*indians*saints"

9.1. who is sejarez?

sejarez, whom amy mentions in "world falls", is not a real person; he was a character (possibly some kind of philosopher) that appeared in one of amy's dreams.

9.2. is "pushing the needle too far" about drugs?

in the "nomads*indians*saints" press kit amy said, "this song deals with alienation and the way we sometimes numb ourselves to things. obviously, the needle suggests a drug analogy, but it's also like the needle on a meter. but it's a symbol, not a literal usage like neil young's 'the needle and the damage done'. it's about the things people do to numb themselves to the pain of their situation."

9.3. what is "the girl with the weight of the world in her hands" about?

emily has stated that this song is not about any person in particular. in the "nomads*indians*saints" songbook she writes, "the bottom line is, we never know what someone is really going through inside. the loneliest people are those we tend to avoid the most. this is about wanting to overcome that feeling in myself and trying to get closer to someone in that situation, someone i might usually shy away from."

9.4. who painted the cover image for "nomads*indians*saints"?

atlanta native todd murphy created the cover art and can be seen painting in the video for "hammer and a nail".


questions about "rites of passage"

10.1. what is "three hits" about?

in the "rites of passage" press kit, amy explained the inspiration for the song. "'three hits' was inspired by the poems of frank stanford. a music friend of mine sent me a book of his poetry, 'the light the dead see', and i went crazy over it - it changed my life a little. i was reading some biographical notes on stanford and learned that he'd committed suicide in the early 80's at age 30 - he shot himself three times in the heart. that image really stuck with me. so i used images from his poems and his life: that he was adopted, that he left his wife behind..."

10.2. what is "jonas and ezekial" about?

in the "rites of passage" press kit amy said, "we played dartmouth college and met some real free thinkers up there. i took a long bike ride on highway 5, on the border of new hampshire and vermont, and this song uses references from that and from earlier road trips - things i heard in conversation, things from the news... it's a political song about people who put their faith in prophesy, who're walking toward disaster instead of doing anything about it." jonas and ezekial are names that amy saw on tombstones in a slave cemetery. they are possibly also references to the biblical characters of the same name, although the names are spelt differently in different translations of the bible.

10.3. who is the "activist with a very short life" mentioned in "jonas and ezekial"?

amy is referring to bob sheldon, the owner of internationalist books in chapel hill, north carolina. sheldon was an active anti-war activist at the time of desert shield and desert storm. he was shot while alone in his store on february 21, 1991.

10.4. what is emily singing at the end of "jonas and ezekial"?

emily sings, "now i walk in beauty / beauty is before me / beauty is behind me / above and below me." the words are from a native american song that is usually sung in a round.

10.5. who wrote "romeo and juliet", and where can i find the original version?

"romeo and juliet" was written by mark knopfler and can be found on dire straits' 1980 album "making movies".

in a november 1994 interview amy said that she had learned a lot of the songs from "making movies". "i used to play in a hotel lounge. i thought ['romeo and juliet'] was an incredibly well written song and i could relate to it at the time for some reason. it just kinda grew and changed over the years." at the time, she said she had never spoken to mark about the song and said, "i wouldn't even want to know what he thinks."

10.6. who is the chickenman?

in the "rites of passage" press kit amy said, "this is a real person, an older guy who lives in a trailer in the middle of this junkyard off the highway somewhere between houston and austin. there's a big sign that says 'chicken man'. it looks like everything's for sale, but you'll ask about something and he'll say, 'oh that's not for sale.' we got into a conversation, and some of his values and ideas seemed incredibly comforting to me at the time. it was the way he'd look out over this piece of land and take such pride and satisfaction in this collection of junk! this guy was deep, he had layers of character underneath that rough skin and dirt. 'chickenman' is really a stream-of-consciousness type song."

10.7. what is "nashville" about?

in the "rites of passage" press kit, amy explained the song's origin. "this is a song from 1984 which never exactly fit in with an album before. i wrote it when i was in college at vanderbilt university, not exactly a hotbed of liberalism. in fact, there were some very racist and sexist things happening on that campus, and i found the city reflected those same qualities to an extent... as a songwriter trying to be heard, i found it extremely competitive and oppressive. as a southerner, i feel free to criticize from 'within the family'. i could say some of the same things about atlanta that i'm saying here about nashville."

10.8. what is "cedar tree" about?

on the 1992 "general foods international coffee" promotional cd amy said, "i was walking around up in north georgia, in the mountains, and i came upon this settlement from the 1830's and there were all these cedar trees planted around these old chimneys. and a friend of my father's said that back in those days a husband would plant a tree for every wife he'd had and so i wrote a song about it, 'cause there were bunch of trees up there."


questions about "swamp ophelia"

11.1. what is "fugitive" about?

in a 1994 interview amy explained, "'fugitive' is... kind of a love song, but it's also, you know, it's very abstract. it's me, the struggle within myself and the struggle with someone else to create commitment in a world of this - of the music industry, which is really kind of screwy. and the idea of invading privacy and - it's about freedom, really, and about the ability to be free."

11.2. what are they saying at the end of "least complicated"?

the conversation is mostly obscured by percussion. however, emily can clearly be heard saying, "that's the way i can feel it." amy's reply is hard to make out but it sounds as though she is saying, "but you don't want..."

11.3. what is "language or the kiss" about?

emily has never directly explained this song, but the common consensus among fans is that this song is about choices. more specifically, that it is about having to choose between a musical career, especially one that involves a lot of touring ("language"), and a "normal" life at home with family and loved ones ("the kiss").

11.4. what is "reunion" about?

at a concert in philadelphia on december 3, 1994, amy said, "i went to my high school reunion about a year and a half ago... it was a weird and ambivalent experience, because i had actually had a good time in high school and emily didn't. so i went expecting the best and... i had this friend, sort of, that i went around with. every time i would go up to someone and give 'em a hug or shake their hand or something, my friend would take me over to the side of the room and say, 'you know, that person you just hugged over there, they hated you in high school and made fun of you every day.' and i was like, 'shit!' so i just learned - i chalked it up to experience and felt like it didn't really matter and i could be friends with anybody anyway. so this is a song about faith in yourself."

11.5. what does "all skate, now reverse" mean?

on the may 12, 1994 broadcast of "world cafe" amy said, "some friends of ours, mrs fun... were the guest band on the record. they went to see a friend of theirs play who used to... you know when you're at the skating rink and they go 'all skate, now reverse'... i was just saying it and we stuck it before ['touch me fall'] because we thought it represented what the song was doing."

11.6. what is "touch me fall" about?

when asked in 1994 about the meaning of "touch me fall" amy replied, "it is very abstract. i don't think it is easy to understand the meaning of it because i don't really either. i just kind of let it all come out. it is sort of about decomposition in general. decomposition of love, life and fame. everything. it is the beauty of decomposition and i am tying it into the fall, meaning the season."

11.7. what are they saying near the end of "touch me fall"?

amy is saying, over and over again, the lyrics from the chorus: "watch me let you down / if i stumble, i will stumble / if i fall, i will fall / trying to hold it like rain in a river / everything is getting bigger / better, can't hold it forever..."

11.8. what is being sung at the beginning of "mystery"?

"handed down or made by hand."

11.9. is larry ray, who sings on "dead man's hill", related to amy?

larry ray sr. is amy's father.

in the "swamp ophelia" press release amy explained, "the point of view shifts back and forth from child to adult. in some ways the song is directed to my parents - that's why i asked my dad to sing on it. it's like i'm saying, 'when things are bad i may not be able to ask for your help, but i'll let you know they're bad!'"

11.10. what is "dead man's hill" about?

"dead man's hill" was inspired by an experience that amy had when she was very young; she saw some high school boys douse cats with gasoline and light them on fire. it was, in her words, her "first exposure to real evil".

11.11. what are they saying at the beginning of "this train revised"?

the names of holocaust victims are being read by amy, emily, ferron and michael lorant of big fish ensemble.

11.12. what does the "revised" in "this train revised" mean?

"this train revised" was inspired both by amy's visit to the holocaust museum in washington dc and by woody guthrie's song "this train". the original "this train" was about the righteous riding into heaven. in an interview in the december 1994 issue of "deneuve" amy said, "i went to the holocaust museum and it really affected me. there's a lot now that's being uncovered about the homosexual experience of the holocaust and how it affected those survivors. at the museum it's made very clear that although jews were by far the main victims of the holocaust, there were many others, too. i really need to write about these feelings."

11.13. what is the music box playing at the end of "this train revised"?

if you listen closely, you can hear the sound of the music box winding several seconds after the song itself ends. the tune that the music box plays is "nocturne in e-flat" by frederick chopin.

11.14. what does "swamp ophelia" mean?

while on vacation in florida, amy went on a nature walk and saw a plant called swampophilia. in a 1994 interview she said, "it made me think of hamlet and ophelia and the swamp. but it all kind of mixes in together." however, there does not actually seem to be a plant called swampophilia; it's possible that the phrase came entirely from amy's imagination.


questions about "4.5"

12.1. what does "4.5" mean?

the album was originally going to contain material from the november 1994 concerts at shepherd's bush empire in london. the band for these shows consisted of amy, emily, jerry marotta and sara lee; gail ann dorsey also sat in on a few songs. the title was meant to represent the number of band members. because gail hadn't played through the entire show, the album's working title was "four and a half". graphically it was decided that "4.5" looked better so that became the title, even though no material from the concerts was used on the album in the end.


questions about "1200 curfews"

13.1. what does "1200 curfews" mean?

"1200 curfews" stands for "twelve hundred curfews", rather than "twelve o'clock curfews". this refers to the fact that indigo girls had played approximately 1200 concerts between the start of their career and the time the album was released. each concert had a curfew, to which amy and emily were often running close. as amy says after "closer to fine" on the album, "we've gotta go, we've got a curfew!"

13.2. who says "moo" and "who loves us... nobody!" on "1200 curfews"?

emily, in both cases.

13.2. what is amy singing at the beginning of "this train revised"?

amy is singing a verse based on a old negro spiritual, "jacob's ladder".

the phrase "jacob's ladder" comes from the bible (genesis 28). jacob, the son of isaac, dreamed one night of a stairway leading to heaven, on which angels were ascending and descending. in his dream, god appeared to jacob and told him that he would be blessed and promised the land on which jacob was sleeping to him and his descendants.

13.4. what is the unnamed track at the end of the second "1200 curfews" cd?

this is a fragment of amy's song "problem child" (called "go go go" in the "1200 curfews" press kit), combined with the end of "touch me fall".

although "problem child" is a song in its own right it has most often been performed, in fragments, as a segue before the final chorus in the live version of "touch me fall". the only known performance of "problem child" in its entirety was at rainy day records in atlanta on december 31, 1994. the version which appears on "1200 curfews" is a recording of one of the "touch me fall" performances.


questions about "shaming of the sun"

14.1. what does "shaming of the sun" mean?

in an interview in the may 1997 issue of the atlanta magazine "poets, artists and madmen" emily said, "it's from a native american legend... i was looking through a book of native american myths and legends, and that title just struck me. it's a legend from two different tribes. it's the story of how the sun came to be in the sky. and i just thought it was evocative."

in addition, at a show at penn state university on april 15, 1997, emily stated that the phrase "shaming of the sun" was taken from a tunica legend. the tunica (or more accurately, the tunica-biloxi tribal nation) are a native american tribe located in louisiana.

14.2. what does "dolittle all day" mean?

amy is referring to the pixies' 1989 album "doolittle" (the title is spelled wrongly in the album lyrics). on "world cafe" in may 1997 she explained, "['shame on you'] is about the importance of the beauty of, like, ethnic things in our life... i was listening to the pixies' album "doolittle" and van morrison and all these things one day, when my friends were over. they have a window washing company, and they were, like, giving me a present, to wash my windows, and we were all hanging, and it's like all of a sudden, it turned into this song about immigration, i don't know what happened."

14.3. where is "gainesville town"?

gainesville is a town in northeastern georgia. in an interview in "stomp and stammer" magazine in may 1997 amy explained, "i saw this really cool movie called 'displaced in the new south' [by atlanta filmmaker david zeiger], and there was a whole section of it about gainesville and the poultry industry there, and then later on down the road i had heard they were starting to crack down on illegal immigrants up there, working at these factories... to me, it's like, god, how hypocritical can you get? you're running this chicken [company], you're raking in the millions, you're hiring people for low wages, they have terrible work conditions. and the city's making money off it, and at the same time the city's going, 'what are all these illegal immigrants doing here?'"

14.4. what does "1694" refer to?

amy has not yet directly explained her reference to 1694 in "shame on you". it is possible that the date has some significance in her family history; a more common theory is that the date simply fit the rhyme and meter of the song at that point.

14.5. who sings the second-last "i'm gonna love you" in "get out the map"?

amy.

14.6. what does "115 you are 17" mean?

amy is referring to the number of poisonous snakes that exist in the united states. (out of 115 varieties of snakes that are native to north america, 17 are venomous.)

14.7. what is that extra verse in "shed your skin"?

the words are almost impossible to make out but the extra verse is something like, "i been lucky to find you / but it's a little too late, too soon / when i look in doubt and fire / the spirits i abuse in you / in you / in you..."

14.8. what does "i got milagro" mean?

milagro, which amy mentions in "shed your skin", is a spanish word meaning "miracle". it is also possible that amy is referring to john nichols' novel "the milagro beanfield war", in which the citizens of a new mexico town band together to fight the government and corporations who want to develop their land.

14.9. what does "caramia" mean?

usually broken into two separate words, "cara mia" is an italian term of affection meaning "my dear".

14.10. what is "caramia" about?

in an interview in the atlanta magazine "poets, artists and madmen" in may 1997 emily said, "['caramia' is] actually two songs that were put together... i just came up with the opening chord riff and wrote the song around it. it's two sections - one is about the relationship that's totally screwed up, the other is from a dream that actually our bass player sara lee had and told me about - and so i put the dream in with the other reflections for the song, and it just came out as it is."

14.11. who is harriet the spy?

harriet the spy was the main character in the 1964 children's book of the same name, written by louise fitzhugh. in the book, harriet was a young girl determined to be an author when she grew up. she kept a secret notebook in which she recorded her observations about life and the actions of those around her.

14.12. what is the miracle mile?

"miracle mile" is a term which has been used to refer to several different things. one of its earliest usages was to refer to roger bannister's feat, in 1954, of running a mile in under four minutes. it has also been used to describe shopping and development districts in various cities around the world.

14.13. where is leeds?

leeds is a city in northern england.

14.14. what is "scooter boys" about?

on "world cafe" in may 1997 amy said, "i don't have anything against scooter boys. but it's an image of england to me... i was referring to the idea of england as an imperialist country. and argentina as a country that was colonized. i mean, i'm talking about colonization." in the may issue of "stomp and stammer" she explained the song further. "well, it's sort of a personal song that turned into a political song, you know. imperialism, and such... i think a lot of people in the us don't think about the fact that central and south america having similar situations with colonialism, etc. you may be a spanish-speaking south american person, but you could be someone who is a colonizer just as easily as, you know, in north america, we, the white people, are colonizers."

14.15. who is zapata?

general emiliano zapata was the mexican freedom fighter after whom the zapatista national liberation army is named. he was assassinated in 1919 following his part in the mexican revolution of 1910 and subsequent guerilla actions which occurred between 1911 and 1917.

15.16. what does "sitting in darwin's theory" mean?

darwin's theory, which amy mentions in "cut it out", is a bar in anchorage, alaska.

14.17. what does "down in the 48s" mean?

"the 48s" is a term used to refer to the forty-eight contiguous us states (ie. all the states minus alaska and hawaii).

14.18. what is being said during "hey kind friend"?

the end of benjamin's speech is hard to make out but he can clearly be heard saying, "it's so hard when they all have to..." near the end of the song he also says, "see you later."

14.19. what tune is the cornet playing in "hey kind friend"?

the cornet solo is the hymn "this is my father's world" (also known as "this is our father's house"). the tune is also picked up by the dulcimer near the end of the song.

14.20. why weren't "winthrop" and "chiapas bound" included on "shaming of the sun"?

in a december 14, 1999 interview emily said "leeds was lyrically a stronger song, when ulali came into the studio, what they did to the song was just magic. its just a stronger song in general and personally, more meaningful me."

in the same 1999 interview amy said "if we were putting together a record where we remembered something that might fit in really well, we would probably go back to it. for me, i have so many songs that i don't feel a place for or didn't on this record. songs that are really personal and i wrote it to write it, and not ever necessarily or i'm not ready to put it on anything and i don't really know if it's a good song or not b/c i'm too close to it personally. so, that happens a lot."

later in a december 17, 1999 in a yahoo chat amy said "hmm! i am going to put a solo record out. i'm starting to work on it in january. i'm not sure what the content is going to be. i am starting out with some songs that are sort of melodic punk. and i have a lot to choose from, so i might put chiapas bound on there, but it might end up on an indigo girls album."


questions about "come on now social"

15.1. what does "come on now social" mean?

in a december 17, 1999 yahoo chat amy said: "the name came from a song that i was working on called "measure of me". and it was just a line from the song and we liked the way it sounded. it seemed to sum up what we were talking about on the record. a call to find your place in the world."

amy would later include "measure of me" on her 2001 solo record, stag.

15.2. who is the little girl on the cover of "come on now social"?

in a may 5, 2000 artist direct chat emily said:

"no, it's not me, it's not amy, it's no one we know. we were originally going to use a photo of another child but couldn't get the rights to use it so, by that time we were really stuck on the idea of using a child on the cover. so, we started looking through some books and we found this photo. i think she's a little german girl, the photographer was german, but no, we've never met her."

15.3. why isn't "philosophy of loss" listed as an album track?

in a may 5, 2000 artist direct chat emily said:

"it was a hidden track because originally, amy wanted to make a pretty short record and as it was, we had twelve complete songs, but i was so attached to that song personally that we decided to make it a hidden track. so, we got the song on the album without making it part of the concise whole of 12 songs. i also like the idea of you've got the cd on, and you're listening it's just there, it's a nice surprise."


questions about "all that we let in"

16.1. who did the cover art? what does it represent?

in a march 25, 2004 article emily said:

however, a story does unify the album, one illustrated by comic book legend jaime hernandez, whose "love & rockets" comic series features queer characters. ray, a big comics fan, asked hernandez to illustrate the album's cover/interior booklet, and he agreed.

"it's the best packaging we've ever had and a great storyline," saliers said. "we're very proud of it."

saliers described the strange hernandez-drawn story, which involves a woman who plants statues from outer space in the desert, as "a metaphor for the beautiful miracles the universe can provide. if we keep our minds open to it and through hard work, diligence and reflection, it's a profound experience. the cover art is this woman [balancing] on a pipe but to me it is a balance between nature and the destruction of nature. there are a lot of things going on there. very spiritual."


official singles

17.1. which songs have been released as singles?

to date, the only indigo girls song which has been released by epic as a commercially available cd single in the us is "power of two". however, various promotional cd singles as well as commercial singles in both vinyl and cassette format have been released in the us, and commercially available singles in all formats have been released in other countries. it is also anticipated that "shame on you", the first single from "shaming of the sun", will be released in the near future.


other song related questions

18.1. what is "blood quantum" about?

in an interview in philadelphia in august 1996 amy said, "'blood quantum' [is about] indian policy - genocide through bureaucracy and paperwork... it's all really convoluted, but it's based on a dream i had. i started the song... i had this dream that i'm standing in line with this pitcher of blood and... you know, everybody's getting their blood measured to see how much indian they are. it was the most bizarre dream - i just finished reading all these books on blood quantum you know, and so i started this song and couldn't finish it, so emily finished this song for me. she wrote lyrics and music, wrote the bridge and stuff."


miscellaneous questions

19.1. what does "soc" stand for?

soc stands for "stream of consciousness". this is a literary style where the author relates whatever is crossing their mind at that moment, without any attempt to edit it. amy has been known to use this technique while performing some of her songs live, most notably "chickenman" and "touch me fall". she has also mentioned that she sometimes uses this technique while writing songs.

19.2. what is daemon records?

daemon records is a non-profit independent record label which was started by amy in 1990. based in decatur, georgia, daemon is "a vehicle to allow recording artists to express their artistic vision without the confines and restrictions of the traditional corporate rock label". amy believes strongly that diversity is the label's first priority and strives to present music for people of all ages. the common factor among the artists on the label is an "attention to the craft of songwriting".

some of the artists signed to the daemon label include gerard mchugh, danielle howle and reversing hour; former artists on the label include kristen hall and band de soleil. daemon was also involved in the 1994 release of "jesus christ superstar: a resurrection". one of its most recent projects was the compilation two-cd set "honor1", proceeds from which go towards aiding the honor the earth campaign.

for more information about daemon, its artists or any of its projects, visit their website at https://www.daemonrecords.com/.

19.3. what is "jesus christ superstar"?

in 1994, amy's record label daemon records released, in collaboration with long play records, "jesus christ superstar: a resurrection", a revival of andrew lloyd webber's rock opera as performed by a group of atlanta artists. the project was the brainchild of michael lorant of big fish ensemble and gerard mchugh. it started out jokingly but eventually evolved into a 2-cd recording and live performance which was staged in atlanta, austin and seattle. a video of the austin show, from march 1995, was released by daemon records, long play records and flagpole magazine in 1996.

the project featured michael lorant as judas iscariot, gerard mchugh as pontius pilate, emily as mary magdalene and amy as jesus. proceeds were donated towards ending gun violence, a project close to michael lorant's heart: the singer was shot in a store robbery in little five points in atlanta in 1991. for more information, visit the daemon records "jesus christ superstar: a resurrection" page at https://www.daemonrecords.com/new-products/jesus-christ-superstar-a-resurection.

19.4. what is honor the earth?

the honor the earth campaign is a joint project of the seventh generation fund, the indigenous women's network and the indigenous environment network. their mission is to create "awareness and support for indigenous environmental issues" and to obtain "needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable indigenous communities".

in her notes on the daemon records www site in mid-1996 amy wrote, "the honor the earth campaign supports native activists doing grassroots work to save their cultural ways, communities, and the environment. emily and i helped start the group about a year ago." indigo girls toured for four weeks to help support the campaign in 1995, and amy has said that an honor the earth tour will be part of every indigo girls touring season from now on.

in august 1996 amy's record label daemon records released the 2-cd set "honor1: a benefit for the honor the earth campaign". for more information about "honor1" or the honor the earth campaign, visit the campaign's www site at http://www.honorearth.org/.

19.5. what is rainy day records?

rainy day records was a record store in atlanta that specialized in music by atlanta artists including collectibles, imports and rare items. rainy day records was owned and run by perry and marsha thompson and shipped worldwide. their www site was http://www.rainy.com.

19.6. what is the flying biscuit?

the flying biscuit cafe started out as a restaurant owned by delia champion, cynthia moore, and missy speert, in which emily was an initial, short term investor. the cafe launched in late 1993 at 1655 mclendon ave. n.e., at clifton road, in the candler park neighborhood of atlanta, the site of the former home of sylvia's atomic cafe. chef april moon's menu included an incredible array of reasonably priced breakfast fare, including their famous biscuits, which initially came in several varieties including regular, whole-wheat and pumpkin. delia was famous for answering the phone at the cafe, and would ship biscuits anywhere in the country. other specialties of the cafe included french toast, grits, and oatmeal pancakes, and in may of 1998 chef moon released a cookbook that captured many of the cafes favorite recipes, "flying biscuit cafe cookbook." the restaurant was a destination and a favorite stop for indigo girls fans visiting atlanta for many years. in 1997 the cafe hosted the release party for "shaming of the sun". in 2000 a second location known as the midtown branch opened at piedmont avenue and tenth street, at the intersection of atlanta's rainbow crosswalks.

looking to expand further, in 2006 delia champion partnered with raving brands, an atlanta franchise portfolio company, and three franchise "flying biscuit" locations opened, two in the atlanta suburbs, and a third in charlotte, north carolina. delia champion continued to work with the flying biscuit for give more years, and plans at the time called for opening a total of ten franchise locations by the end of 2008. by early 2020 raving brands had changed names to big game brands, and there were a total of 25 franchise locations.

in 2010 the hsiao brothers, joseph and matthew, bought the midtown and candler park franchises. in 2018 controversy erupted around the midtown branch location when stories surfaced of the location making several donations from its revenue to the gubernatorial campaign of brian kemp, a trump-endorsed republican who was known for supporting anti-lgbtq "religious freedom" bills. with calls from the gay community for a boycott of the location, the general manager wladimir chacon publicly stated, "there will be no political matters in the restaurant - in the end, it's a restaurant, it's about the staff, it's the people who come here every way." a boycott meant that the people would "suffer, this is their livelihood." as of early 2020 the location remained in business.

on march 17, 2011, delia champion launched "delia's chicken sausage stand" in east atlanta at 489 moreland avenue sw, with a menu based on all natural chicken sausage recipies she had perfected over the years. in july of 2014 a second location opened in west atlanta, at 881 marietta street nw.

19.7. what is watershed restaurant?

watershed was a restaurant established and owned by emily and a group of three friends - ross jones, leslie zweben and susan owens. watershed launched on october 26, 1998 in decatur, georgia in the shell of an old gas station at 406 west ponce de leon avenue. it served a light fare of gourmet sandwiches, appetizers and a few entrees, and also had a small shop with wines, flowers, gifts and specialty foods for sale. watershed was particularly known for its fried chicken tuesdays. when not out on tour, emily could often be found sweeping floors, refilling drinks, clearing tables, greeting customers, and otherwise helping out around the restaurant. in 2007 then co-owner and chef scott peacock won the james beard foundation award for the best cook in the southeast. like "the flying biscuit", for many years "watershed" was a top destination for indigo girls fans visiting atlanta. the decatur location closed in august of 2011 in preparation to move to a new location in buckhead.

watershed re-opened as "watershed at peachtree" on may 24, 2012 in a much larger location at 1820 peachtree road. at the new location fried chicken tuesdays changed to fried chicken wednesdays. on april 4, 2018, watershed on peachtree was sold to matt marcus, and as a result closed briefly after the last service on april 8, 2018. the restaurant re-opened on april 12, 2018 in the same location with a new chef and a modified menu, including a $350 plate of house-cut french fries with sea salt, served with a bottle krug brut rose (which at the time retailed for between $250 and $300). on december 28, 2019 watershed on peachtree closed its doors. the owner maintained rights to watershed's intellectual property and could reopen the restaurant in a new location at a later date.

19.8. i really like indigo girls; what other artists might appeal to me?

if you like indigo girls, other artists whom you might like include:

ani difranco - although she has been described as "folkpunk", that does not accurately capture the essence of ani's music. possibly one of the finest lyricists since bob dylan, ani's music is intensely personal and always brutally honest.

disappear fear - a folk/pop band whose songs deal mainly with love and politics. they have opened for indigo girls many times and amy and emily appear on their second, self-titled album.

kristen hall - a longtime friend of the indigo girls (and formerly their guitar technician), kristen is a gifted songwriter whose emotive voice adds extra edge to her delivery.

mary chapin carpenter - one of the leading female country/folk artists today, mary chapin has sung with indigo girls and joan baez at the newport folk festival. amy and emily also appear on her fourth album "come on come on".

michelle malone - formerly of drag the river and band de soleil, michelle is also a talented solo performer and is another longtime friend of amy and emily. she has a wonderful voice and definite rock tendencies.

new mongrels - put together by haynes brooke, new mongrels is a group made up of musicians from atlanta and seattle including amy, emily, michelle malone and gerard mchugh.

they have one release available, "not dead (yet)", in which they perform a collection of brooke's songs which are quirky in the extreme.

dar williams - possessed of a beautiful voice and admirable songwriting skill, dar's intelligent, multi-layered songs and often ingenious delivery will capture your heart and imagination.

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