lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: blood and fire


1989-02-24: lp of emotional resonance for atlanta's indigo girls, the atlanta journal constitution:

the side closes with ms. ray's riveting solo performance of "blood and fire." armed with only her acoustic guitar and her stunning, richly textured voice, ms. ray summons forth every nuance of erotic angst - anger, vulnerability, need and desire - in her song's lyrics: and i'm calling you, calling you, from 10,000 miles away/ won't you wet my fire with your love, babe. beginning in a whisper, she sings, i am intense/ i am in need/ i am in pain/ i am in love. she repeats the words with increasing intensity until her voice breaks with desperation.

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1989-08-05: sweetness - with an edge, the new york post:

ray is a cauldron. she sways and two-steps as she sings, as if all that emotion were trying to get out of her body. it does - in her voice, a throaty alto that has enough street in it to make the edges crack. ray uses dynamics with an inborn understanding, sliding from a sandpapered howl to a breathy whisper in "blood and fire" and growling in the title line of "kid fears" with such pained ferocity that it makes your spine tingle.

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1989-08-06: indigo girls' dark shadings; the folk-rock duo's lyrics of melodrama, the washington post:

the duo's eponymous major-label debut album, which features contributions by fellow georgians r.e.m. and ireland's hothouse flowers, has also received glowing reviews. the little criticism the album has generated usually centers on the lyrics, which some reviewers have found despairingly dark and "self-centered." ray's "blood and fire," for example, begins: "i have spent nights with matches and knives,/ leaning over ledges, only two flights up/ cutting my heart, burning my soul/ nothing left to hold/ nothing left but, blood and fire."

there was a time when this bothered indigo girls. "when the reviews first came out," recalls saliers, "we used to read them hungrily. like, you know, 'what did the critics say? what did the critics say?' we really took the first ones personally ... but then we started hearing from the people we intended to reach in the first place that the music was uplifting. i think if you come to our shows, you'll find that we're not depressed people or anything."

what you will find, says ray, are performers who write honestly about reality and relationships. if some of the lines seem a tad melodramatic here and there, well, "sometimes you feel melodramatic about things and sometimes you don't. i feel i let whatever is in my system out. there may be songs coming up that take a completely different attitude, but, frankly, i think a purely happy song is one of the hardest things to write."

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1989-12-01: indigo girls experience shades of success - closer to fine, the seattle times:

epic has also re-released a slightly altered version of "strange fire," originally released in 1987 on the duo's own indigo label. a newly-recorded version of the youngbloods' protest classic "get together" was added to the lp, replacing "blood and fire," a new version of which appears on "indigo girls." but "land of canaan," one of the duet's best tunes appears on both albums, with the more polished version on the new lp. the repackaged album has sold some 300,000 copies; the original sold only a few thousand. epic will also re-release a six-song ep the duet made in 1986.

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1989-12-20: simplicity works to perfection for indigo girls, the colorado springs gazette:

ray also took her turn soloing, delivering a fiery rendition of "blood and fire." the strength of her voice, and her passionate body language as she delivered the love song, was amazingly beautiful.

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1990-02-27: over at amy's, footnotes:

with "indigo girls" going gold and winning a grammy, it appears people are responding in droves to the optimism in cuts like the upbeat "closer to fine" as well as the raw passion in cuts like "blood and fire."

"it's a love song," amy said about "blood and fire." she fidgeted. "it's about a relationship that was important to me in a self-destructive way. it took a long time to write it, a couple of years to get through it. it expresses a kind of love that a lot of people feel at one time in their lives. it's the obsessive compulsive love, which is very, very dangerous."

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1990-xx-xx: the indigo girls, the new folk music:

epic has also reissued the indigo girls' self-produced 1987 album strange fire, featuring the original versions of the songs "blood and fire" and "land of canaan." "the record company really liked those songs," ray explains. "we did them in a different way. emily likes the new versions better but i like the early ones."

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2013-10-18: amy.1983, official indigo girls "a year a month blog" on tumblr:

my oldest sister laura had gone to vandy and i had visited her a couple times and thought it'd be a good place for me. i'm not sure what transpired in the time after she graduated but the community of d&d playing, philosophy majors and free loving hippies had kind of disappeared off the campus and what was left, was pretty much a choice between the conservative young republican kids who majored in fraternity and sorority life and the conservative business, pre-med or prelaw driven intellectuals. i know now there were a lot of other kinds of students there, but i was such a hermit that i couldn't find them. i was trying to come to terms with my sexuality and scared of everything i was feeling. i was in music city, u.s.a. and i knew i wanted to make the best of it, but still couldn't really connect the dots. vanderbilt and nashville were legendary in my mind for alt country bands like jason and the scorchers and badass women rockers like marshall chapman. the bluebird cafe had just opened and was already a happening place. the sga at vandy was renown for hooking up stellar shows; r.e.m. came through on its murmur tour and opened for the english beat. i kick myself now, because i couldn't get out of my misery enough to discover this world that lay at my feet.

i did have a super cool job though, at the most amazing used record, comic, and bookstore on broadway called the great escape. it really became my savior during that time. i spent my hours going through tons of vinyl records in a dusty upstairs room, checking them and pricing them, organizing comics, ringing up sales, and doing gopher work. it was the walker's family business and they knew a lot about music. my sister had also worked there when she was school, so the walkers took me in and treated me like their own. i spent most of my earnings on vinyl and comics, but the job gave me some structure and helped to feel like i was in nashville and not just isolated on a college campus. gary walker was a nashville songwriter and gave me some songwriting advice along the way. it took a while to apply his advice but it was a seed that got planted and grows even now. i played some gigs here and there, even played on campus, and it was really a big part of whom i was, but i was having so much trouble negotiating my inner life that i couldn't really turn it into anything. i felt like such an oddball, and sometimes out of insecurity, i was strange for strange's sake, but it's hard when you feel all painful and crazy inside to figure out how to show it on the outside without giving it all away, so i guess that chip on my shoulder got pretty heavy.

i had a couple of entrusted friends that saved my butt for sure, i still use the guitar strap that they gave me in an act of total grace and support. but, there was nowhere that i didn't feel homophobia and at the time, i didn't even know what to call it, i hated myself and did whatever i could to stop that hurt. i wrote blood and fire in the throes of all that mystery and pain. but it was more than just love and sexuality chaos, my left wing was growing, my politics developing and i was truly feeling the pull of activism. i didn't understand it all yet, it was just growing inside and i couldn't help myself from taking in all that was wrong with the south in the 80's. i wrote the lyrics for nashville that year too, i left the original lyrics in a seedy atlanta hotel i holed up in for some respite called the dial inn. it took me a while to pull it back up from my memory. i felt the old south's racism, classism, and all the negative parts of a wealthy old southern university and a conservative music city and that song was my way of coming to terms with it. but you know how it is, where there is that much frustration and anger, there is bound to be an equal helping of yearning and love; over the years that city has become a friend to me.

when your 19 years old, you don't think of yourself as young, but you are, you are young and vulnerable and your senses are on hyper drive. i was pretty lost and always asking myself why did everything feel so off kilter, secret and dark? the creeping discovery of sexuality, politicization, social awkwardness of a freshman year, and powerful musical ambitions all culminated in a potent coming of age that lives with me even now.


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