I was perusing one of my old blog sites today. To my great surprise, despite its inactivity for 5 years, the site is still getting traffic. This is largely due to a six-year old post paying tribute to one of my musical heroes, Harriet Wheeler. I was shocked to see that little blog post had received almost 40,000 visitors over the past five years, This is of course due to the interest in Harriet rather than any literary genius on my part. After all these years, people are still hungry for any information about the voice that moved us to tears only to vanish into private life with her husband and family.
Since I’m blogging again, I decided to re-blog this old nugget originally published on January 23, 2008. A lot has changed in my life since I wrote this but, my love for The Sunday’s remains as strong as ever. Harriet, wherever you are, thank you for being a part of my life forever.
Harriet Wheeler, Where Are You?
We live in a world where pop stars come and go like the meaningless fluff they create. As with the seasons, their presence and art remain as a warm memory to anchor periods in our life, remembered during occasional flights of nostalgia. It’s rare when an artist can create a body of work significant or worthy enough to command our attention for more than a brief period of time. Even rarer is the artist or group that remains on top for twenty or thirty years, constantly recording or touring enough to garner legions of fans from two or more generations. That type of status is reserved for legendary performers that become enshrined in various halls of fame and, often live the tabloid life that we mortals feed on like hungry sheep.
Thank god for all the fabulous artists and the music they’ve created to move us in degrees both small and large. But, to me, it is for neither the one hit wonders nor the bloated legends that I pine for. For all the artists that have come, gone, or remain as super stars, none hold title to as large a portion of my soul as The Sundays do.
It was in the early 90s that I first heard the voice of Harriet Wheeler, the haunting lyrics, and the jangling melodies that defined the Sundays. While their style could be traced to predecessors like the Cocteau Twins or even the Smiths, it was the voice of Harriet Wheeler that was (and remains) unique. Were it not for college radio or some of the rare independent radio stations, many would have never heard the Sundays. While unique, their sound would never attract mass audiences. That was never what they were about. They did however attract a fan base that would be forever changed and even haunted by Harriet’s voice. While their lyrics were sometimes obscure and even panned by some critics as sophomoric, no one could ever forget the style, passion, and guts with which they were delivered. Harriet remains one of a kind. And with such a gifted voice, a legion of dedicated fans, and the world firmly within her grasp, what did she ultimately decide to do? Walk away. She and her husband David Gavurin, co-founders of the group, walked away to raise a family and live a quiet life away from touring and popular music.
What they leave in their wake is a worldwide group of loyal and adoring fans that remain just as true and passionate about their music as the first time it was heard. Just Google “The Sundays” sometime and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Better yet, listen to their music. Their record, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic has never strayed far from my player for the last 17 years. It moves me as much today as it ever did. For their complete discography, check out this site. It’s the most complete I have found.
I’ve never been one to be star struck. I’ve been around the world of music and the artists that create it for most of my life. Harriet remains the exception. I fell in love with her completely. Her voice will remain with me forever. Harriet, wherever you are, I hope you are happy and realize the impact you have made. Your voice is never far from my consciousness or my soul. I woke up with a Sunday’s song (lyrics below) in my head this morning and it inspired me with the “desire” to write this tribute. Thanks, Harriet. You are loved.
And did you know desire’s a terrible thing
The worst that I could find
And did you know desire’s a terrible thing
But I rely on mine
Did you know desire’s a terrible thing
It makes the world go blind
But if desire, desire’s a terrible thing
You know that I really don’t mind
And it’s my life
And though I can’t be sure what I want any more
It will come to me later
Well it’s my life…. and it’s my life
And though I can’t be sure if I want any more
It will come to me later… ah, yeah
Exerpted from “Can’t be Sure”