“Tom Petty left a hole that can’t be filled,” said Mike Campbell, kicking off the virtual concert for Tom Petty’s 70th Birthday Bash last year. “But he also left us a lot of great music.”
He then performed a beautifully haunting version of “American Girl,” sung by Benmont Tench, who Mike called his “best friend, and compatriot for fifty years with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.”
It was one of many unexpected, moving renditions of one of his great songs, which are never diminished by slowing down the tempo, or by a gentle, solo performance. It’s a testament to the timeless beauty and inspired melodicism of Tom’s songwriting. Whether fast rockers or tender ballads, Tom’s songs are so poignantly tuneful and lovingly constructed, that like the modern standards they are, they shine in any setting.
This truth was exemplified by the deeply soulful force of Lady Blackbird’s performance of “Angel Dream.” Evoking the tenderhearted purity of the original, she sang it accompanied by one acoustic guitar only (played by her producer, Chris Seefried). It’s a remarkable performance. Rather than reinvent the song or make it her own, she inhabits the song, and delivers it with a loving and luminous fidelity to the melody as written.
With a voice that conjures up the deep soul of Aretha mixed with hints of Mavis Staples, Billie Holiday, Gladys Knight and Al Green, Lady Blackbird sings with the authority of genuine love. It’s what drew her to this song, which Tom wrote the day after first meeting his angel dream, Dana, and dreaming of her. It was truly love at first sight, a concept he always felt was phony, until that night. The song is the real story of his dream of love. A dream come true.
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“For me, the song embodies life in love,” said Lady Blackbird, “and also so many feelings you encounter on that journey. From finding the person you think is the one, to losing the person you thought was the one, to being back on a journey of finding the person that actually is the one.”
“When I hear this song,” she said, “it’s an embodiment of happy, sad and knowing. Embrace it all.”
Lady Blackbird is going on tour to the UK; she will be at the We Out Here Festival in Huntington on August 22, the 100 Club in London on August 26, and The Red Rooster Festival in Suffolk on August 27.
She will play The Ford in L.A. on September 16.
Her new album Black Acid Soul, produced by Chris Seefried, will be released on September 3rd.