lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: strange fire

1990-01: mood indigo, atlanta magazine:

while amy's parents indulged her ambition, they openly feared she was asking for heartbreak.

"we didn't push her into this, that's for sure," says larry ray. i told her there are 150 million people out there who think they can sing and write songs. i have no connections and no way to help you other than encouragement, and i don't think you should count on this."

"she didn't listen to any of it."

"we always did things to make ourselves feel better about our music," says amy, explaining, at 80 mph in the wee hours of the morning, how the indigo girls came to be where they are. and why there making it when those 150 million other wanna- bees are not.

to have amy at the wheel with foot to the floor for this topic is fitting. she has commandeered the indigo girls in much the same fashion. although both girls wanted to be musicians, it was doubtless amy's singlemindedness, plus some perceptive navigating, that have largely kept them on track.

"amy knew how to make decisions back when we were on our own," emily says. "like she knew we needed to start playing rock clubs instead of folk clubs because people in rock clubs tend to be more openminded to different kinds of music. i had no idea what steps to take."

amy's and emily's lives have been laced erratically together for almost 15 years, but it was not until about 1980, when they began playing together on a regular basis, that the weave was pulled tight.

that year, under the name saliers and ray, they decided to try their hand at a buckhead bar called good ol' days.

their career was interrupted when emily left for h. sophie newcomb college at tulane in new orleans in 1981. amy left for vanderbilt the next year. by 1983 both were back at emory, where their musical skills were put to use in student theater productions. ("strange fire," one song they composed for a student play, became the name of an early independently handled album.)

back in atlanta they named themselves indigo girls. it means nothing. amy simply pulled it out of the dictionary and haphazardly settled on the work "indigo," and that was the end of that.


1991-01-25: indigos blend intricate sound, thought, the cleveland plain dealer:

but from there, it all fell into place, from the helpful support of their musically inclined families to the fortuitousness of encountering one another in college.

they had both, unbeknownst to the other, transferred to atlanta's emory university - saliers from tulane university and ray from vanderbilt university it was there that they teamed for good and adopted their current name, doing open-mike nights and assembling an atlanta following. they also began to write some of the highly individual music showcased on these first three albums. (the second, "strange fire," was a re-release of their first, independent, full-length album, from 1987.)

incredibly, they were able to support themselves on music from the start.

"there were only two of us; that's low overhead," said saliers.

they also had their own little sound system and their own "indigo" label. "we were having a great time," she said.

they did "strange fire" as a demo, and recorded another demo, too, just to give them a marketing edge.

then a lucky thing happened. "one guy from epic just happened to come to atlanta to hear another band," she said. he had heard of them, and stopped by the little five points pub where they were playing.

he hired them, not the other guys.


2000-10-03: retrospective liner notes:

"the seeds for this song were planted during my time at emory as a religion major. i read so many interpretations of the bible that my head was spinning. i took a few verses and stories, and twisted them around to prove my point just like everyone else does. the irony was probably lost a little in the midst of what turned out to be a very earnest song."


200x-xx-xx: the meaning of some indigo girls lyrics:

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.

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