Melanie's Brilliant Career
She was the queen of 1969’s Woodstock Music Festival. After mounting a singing career while still in college, Melanie later sang in clubs in Greenwich Village, and was signed to a publishing contract in 1967. She recorded her first single ‘Beautiful People’ that same year. In 1969, Melanie met producer Peter Schekeryk, who later became her husband. He took charge of her career and helped her release her first album.
Peter was working with Buddha records, and he was from Eastern Europe. He was Ukrainian. And he thought she had a European sound. So in 68, she went to France and did 40 days and 40 Nights at the Olympia Theatre in Paris, which was a major deal. She had a hit record in France called Bobo’s Party. It was a really bizarre song that became her first hit record.
She was asked to do Woodstock and was pretty well unknown in America. She went on stage an unknown and emerged a celebrity. Three years later she had that massive hit Lay Down which began at Woodstock when she had the chorus stuck in her head as a result of the images she had seen and what she had felt and experienced. Melanie tells us all about how she felt and what she went through at Woodstock in this week’s episode. The hit Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) is performed with the Edwin Hawkins Singers here.
Brand New Key and Look What They've Done to my Song, Ma
Melanie’s next song, Brand New Key, reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the international best selling single in Canada and Australia, as well as in the UK. She had wanted to be seen as someone with a little relevance and social commentary. This and the following song in 1970, Look What they’ve done to my song, Ma is a complaint about how the music industry perverts her music. Melanies says that by the time her songs hit the market, they’ve turned out all wrong. She says that was the first time she felt like a writer because Ray Charles recorded it amongst many others.
75 year old Emmy award winning Melanie Safka has had 20 chart topping hits to date. If you’re lucky you might just be able to catch her in concert somewhere playing with her adult children.
Dave Mason on Dave Mason
Dave Mason has been the guitarist of choice for artists like Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, and Eric Clapton. He’s added great licks to classic albums like The Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet, and to George Harrison’s all things must pass. Fans and critics alike have all hailed the Englishman as one of the most talented songwriters and guitarists in the world, which is why he’s still performing over 100 shows a year. Dave’s been playing guitar most of his life by 15. He’d already founded two bands at 18 he teamed up with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood to form the legendary band Traffic and 19 he penned the song ‘Feeling all Right’. It was a rock anthem first recorded by Traffic and then covered by dozens of other artists including the late Joe Cocker.
In the 60s, Dave spent a great deal of time hanging out and playing with Jimi Hendrix. He played on several tracks and sung on Crosstown Traffic. Dave tells me that his dream had been to be in the Royal Air Force when he was a teenager. His maths skills failed him and he became a musician. Thank goodness!
Dave released his very first solo album in 2020 called Alone Together, the tapes were burned in the Universal Studios fire of 2008 so it’s a remake of the original songs, some of which he’s changed up completely. He says he started doing it for his own amusement in the beginning. It took more than 10 years and then it just developed into a celebration of his 50 year anniversary. He thinks the songs are better having been totally rearranged into a more contemporary form.
David Paton's Pilot - a 2 hit wonder still making a mark today.
Scottish 70s band Pilot was pretty much a two hit wonder. With the songs Magic and its follow up January, both hit the top of the charts and then just faded away taking the name of the band with them. David Paton wrote all of Pilot’s songs and fronted the group. While his name certainly doesn’t conjure up images of Grammys, Glitz or gyrating hips, and his face never actually appeared on the cover of the Rolling Stone. David has managed to leave an indelible mark on the world of rock and pop. He’s one of the most respected, underrated and versatile musicians in the business. And he’s been writing, singing and playing great music for more than half a century. David tells me that he started thinking about the song ‘Magic’ at least a year before it was released as a single. The song came about, he says, “when I used to sit and write songs at a piano and I’d have a little cassette player above the piano. And any ideas that came into my head were added to the cassette player. So I’ve started singing magic. Oh, it’s magic. It was only four bars of a song. But it went down on my ideas tape. And I thought one day I’ll find a bit to go with that.” He says Magic was just a word that we used in the Scottish language a lot. At that time, everything was magic.
During our interview, David Paton tells me about his songwriting process and the fact that he is still working as a musician today. He also filled me in with details about the last time he visited Australia. Check out the interview and the video of him performing on Australian TV below.