Michael Hepworth


HOLLYWOOD (Perfect Music Today) 9/15/20/–Celebrated artist Tammy Faye Starlite has been performing  “These Days,” Jackson Browne’s seminal song, for many years, specifically as part of her Nico Underground  performance piece.  It was first recorded by Nico [of Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground renown] for her 1967 Chelsea Girl album and has been covered countless times thereafter. Among the versions released over the past 53 years are readings  by Gregg Allman, Glen Campbell, Fountains of Wayne, Cher, The Golden Palominos, Paul Westerberg, Tom Rush, David Alan Coe, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Drake. Jackson Browne’s own rendition was released six years after Nico’s on For Everyman, his second album. Tammy’s new recording is true to the original that Browne wrote when he was just sixteen but dispenses with Nico’s Germanic affect, creating something new and quite personal in the process.

The rave New York Times review of Nico Underground took noted Tammy’s vocal prowess with Charles Isherwood writing, “Ms. Starlite’s voice is arguably richer and rangier than Nico’s was.” He went on to call the performance “remarkable — and howlingly funny.” Similarly, a recent profile in NJ Arts suggested, “While Starlite’s version is influenced by Nico, her haunting voice reveals her own melancholy and defiance. Her voice is warmer than Nico’s, her pain more palpable.”

“These Days,” in Tammy’s care, underscores the song’s message and mood that is so universal, especially… these days.  She says the lyrics “resonate for everyone now” and ponders, “will we see our loved ones, or even our liked ones?” Referencing the lines, “These days I seem to think about/How all the changes came about my ways/And I wonder if I’d see another highway,” she says she wonders if she herself will see another highway, so that she can perform again and connect with friends.

She recorded the song with producer Tom Beaujour and backing by guitarists Keith Hartel (acoustic) and Richard Feridun (electric).  Within a week’s time of the session, a video, directed by Michael Schiralli who also directed Nico Underground, had been produced with a masked Tammy wandering empty New York City streets.  The only other recognizable person in the piece is Danny Fields who signed Nico to Elektra Records decades ago and has become a mentor to Tammy in recent years.  His career is chronicled in the documentary Danny Says, the title adapted from the Ramones song he inspired. Beyond Nico and the Ramones, Fields worked with the Doors, Iggy Pop, the Velvet Underground and Steve Forbert.  It is in Danny’s apartment that the camera lingers on a portrait of Nico on the wall.  Tammy says, “His wit, his supreme intellect, all the things he’s done — he’s continually astounding to me. His love for Nico was/is very profound.”

Tammy commented on the turn of events that brought “These Days” back into her personal and professional life.  “I’ve always loved ‘These Days’  – such an elegiac song – its themes of regret, of time passing, of a certain kind of deliberate ennui to deflect from the pain of what’s been lost – all those elements, and the haunting melody, resonate so deeply, especially now, when ‘I wonder if I’ll see another highway’ is heartbreakingly true. The aspirations of youth, the beauty that was ours, seem to have inexorably faded, and the line, ‘These days I seem to think a lot about the things that I forgot to do, and all the times I had the chance to,’ along with ‘Please don’t confront me with my failures/I have not forgotten them,’ haunt our hearts- the fear in wondering if we will ever have another chance. I’m not sure of anything, these days.”

Link to view “These Days” video: https://youtu.be/1NDj61FkzCk





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