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Blog: Connie Converse

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Last week I was idly wandering through the fields of Facebook when I spotted a post from The James McMahon Music Podcast mentioning a show he's just put up aboout Connie Converse. There was a brief blurb that mentioned something about a singer-songwriter who'd disappeared about 50 years ago, and whose music had only recently been discovered.

"That sounds interesting", I thought, and I was CORRECT, for a deeper dive into the topic (i.e. listening to the show and looking her up on Wikipedia) showed it to be FASCINATING. The very brief version is that Connie Converse was a singer-songwriter in the early 1950s before there even WERE singer-songwriters as what we would understand them today. She lived in New York, wrote several songs, once appeared on a television programme, but got absolutely nowhere with it at ALL and so gave up on music and did other stuff instead until 1974 when she packed all of her belongings into a Volkswagen Beetle and drove off NEVER to be heard from again.

All of the above is INTRIGUING, but what makes it much more so is that in 2004 some TAPES of her music were played on a radio show and they were AMAZING. She never officially released anything at all - a friend had recorded some of her songs half a century earlier, and some other recordings of hers were found in a cabinet in her brother's garage, and so in 2015 a compilation called How Sad, How Lovely was released. INTRIGUED further I went and downloaded it off of Bandcamp and have been listening to it ever since because it is FANTASTIC.

It sounds like music from an alternative universe (The Connie Converse-verse?), like something you have heard a million times before but also never have until just now, as if it had existed in a previous version of the universe but somehow got erased. The actual music reminds me a bit, for some reason, of Stan Laurel singing "Lonesome Pines", and also of Madeleine the rag doll from Bagpuss, in that it sounds super-OLD, but also weirdly MODERN and new. The tunes are GRATE (I have been wandering around singing the title track all WEEK) and the words are BRILLIANT. I think that's what makes it strangest to listen to, with her singing very modern but also very old-fashioned lyrics but knowing it was seventy years ago.

What I am saying is that she is/was GRATE and I would highly recommend everyone go and have a listen. Also, if anyone knows what happened to her and happens to have her contact details, please ask if she'd like to come out of retirement and do a Totally Acoustic!

posted 6/5/2024 by MJ Hibbett

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