lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: come down in time

1990-11-09: saliers talks about the indigo girls, the arcade:

saliers was an english major at tulane and had "no contact with the music department." she was, however, very active in her songwriting and guitar playing during those years. along with playing at the penny post and on wtul's folk show, she could be found "hanging out" on the u.c. quad playing "just for fun."

she said her years at tulane were really good and she took some great classes, but she found the environment overwhelming. "the influence of new orleans was a little bit too much," she said.

"the reason why i went away from home was just to prove to myself that i could live on my own away from my parents. so i went and i did that for two years and knowing i could do that, i came back to emory, ... but i love new orleans now. now that i can handle it, i love it."

although saliers was unaware of it, ray had also transferred to emory after spending her first tow years at vanderbilt. the tow had originally met in the sixth grade when both had been playing guitar and singing for several years. but it was not until their final year of high school in 1980 that they performed together.

their first gig was a parent teacher association show at their school. after that, saliers said, the tow joined forces and went from "just practicing in amy's basement of her house to going out to local bars and doing open- mike night dates wherever we could get gigs because we were underage."

the two were playing songs by '70s acoustic artists like james taylor, carole king, elton john and neil young. saliers said their influences now are "worlds apart from what was going on then."

part of the reason for the change is the time they spent away from home in their first two years at school. while studying at tulane, saliers discovered joni mitchell. for saliers it was "like she was the only songwriter that ever existed."

the reunion of the indigo girls at emory ended their solo careers, and although their musical styles are "like black and white," they have "a great time playing together and still remain compatible."


1990-11-16: starspot, the island ear:

amy ray of indigo girls

full name: amy ray.
born: atlanta, ga. 1964.
most significant achievement: successful relationship.
career goal: happiness.
last book i read & liked: the clockwinder, ann tyler.
last movie i saw & liked: small change, directed by f. truffaut.
favorite song: "strange fruit."
favorite album: pirates, rickie lee jones.
first record bought: elton john's don't shoot me - i'm only the piano player.
last record bought: living colour's time's up.
musical heroes: aerosmith, joan baez, patti smith.
favorite singer: paul westerberg.
favorite musician playing same instrument: richie havens - guitar.
non-musical heroes: harvey gant.
favorite cartoon character: wile e. coyote.
oldest childhood memory: grilling hot dogs, camping with my brother in my backyard.
first crush: bernie taupin.
most embarassing moment: i was mixing the album and didn't know i had cotton in my ear.
favorite place to play: atlanta.
favorite food: beans and rice.
favorite drink: cola.
favorite color: green.
most prized possession: my books, my plastic models.
favorite way to pass the time on the tour bus: watching spinal tap.
favorite expression: cool!
dream date: jodie foster and /or matt dillon.
favorite magazine/newspaper: national geographic.
if i could be any animal i'd be a: wolf
my epitaph: i'm not dead yet.


1991-01: the power of two, acoustic guitar:

a passion for music, guitar, years of singing in high school and church choir, and sticking together since high school has taught them well. both started playing guitar when they were children. saliers recalls that at first the idea of playing guitar was just another whim. "all along my life i've always gotten these bursts of interests and let them go soon after that," she explains. "but as soon as i started playing i loved it and ended up playing all the time," she says. "i just really loved it."

since then she's had a year of classical lessons and absorbed jazz from her main musical influence, joni mitchell, and from cy timmons, a gut-string guitarist she used to watch in atlanta. the jazz influence shows up throughout her songs in her chord extensions and is particularly strong on crazy game, from strange fire.

ray was attracted to the guitar by the rhythmic motion of strumming and the instrument's mobility. "the rhythm of the guitar was really natural for me. the actual strumming motion," she explains. despite being frustrated in her attempts to develop her playing beyond strumming, she still enjoyed playing. "i was doing fine. i felt like, just knowing some basic chords and playing and writing like that," she says. "not worrying about all that other stuff." today, ray says she works a lot on improving her playing.

although acquainted as youngsters, ray and saliers didn't begin their musical collaboration until high school, when they played cover tunes by james taylor, carole king, and elton john. (they recently recorded live versions of cover songs for future b sides of singles.) ray says she'd learn songs from neil young books and allman brothers easy for guitar. saliers was able to pick off songs from records. and when they got together, they strummed pretty much the same thing.

they stumbled on to blending different chord voicings because some chords were too difficult for ray to play. "i'd play it an easier way and emily would play it the harder way," explains ray. "then we realized it actually sounded better to do that sometimes."


1992-06-07: indigo girls bring literature to songwriting, the st. louis post-dispatch:

q: how did you get together?

a: we were at the same elementary school, but we weren't really friends. i ws 11 and she was 12, but we didn't really become friends until i was 16 and she was 17. then we joined the (high school) chorus, and we started playing music together.

at first, we played together just to have fun, and to be friends. we went to parties together and played guitar. then we started doing talent shows, and it built up from there.

we started doing open-mike nights at a couple of bars. we were doing covers, the standard stuff: "fire and rain," "please come to boston," elton john, dan fogelberg, james taylor.

emily went off to tulane while i was still in high school, and when she came home for the summer, we played together. then i went off to vanderbilt, and we'd get together on holidays and play.

both of us decided to transfer, and we ended up at emory university in atlanta. at that point, we started doing a lot of original music because we were playing all the time together. the stuff we were listening to really took a turn, and we started playing in rock clubs instead of folk places. i think things just kind of went from there.


1994-12: indigo girls: why amy and emily are finally in the pink, b side:

amy and partner emily saliers have been friends since grade school, playing partners since high school. oddly, they write separately - their only attempt to collaborate was an abject failure.

"i would probably never use half the words emily uses - they're not even in my vocabulary! we respect each other's writing, and that's why it works. we're happy with the separate styles. in the beginning both of us were compromising so much that the records were very folk and a narrow band of acoustic music. we were keeping each other safe. these days we compromise less, which is why the music has changed so much. now i have no qualms about telling emily, 'i want the song to be this way, and vice versa."

the two of them were playing solo before they ever joined up. "i don't know what happened. i don't remember. i think we just decided to have some fun and sing together and it worked. i wasn't much of a harmony singer at the time, i pretty much stuck to the melody, but i think the blend was there. we had a good time, and we wanted to do the same covers - neil young, elton john, james taylor, a lot of the coffeehouse songs."

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