Amanda Palmer and Brendan Maclean – “Laura”
— AN OFFICIAL PATRON-SUPPORTED RELEASE, JUNE 22, 2016 —
Here I am again, thing in hand….and this one is quite personal and beautiful.
Anthony died a year ago today. I’m feeling it. If you’re new to my life, it’s such a long story. (Maybe read this.)
So….I know I’ve been barraging you with a lot of cover projects lately…but I plead permission to do this especially since I just co-wrote eight new songs with Edward (!) and am feeling like The New Will Come. And this is a Very Secret Archival One….we’ve have been holding onto it for a special occasion, which is today.
It’s a cover of “Laura” that I was doing nightly with Brendan Maclean at the Sydney Festival 2014, and while I was down under (this was over two years ago now) we decided to get together secretly for a day in a Sydney recording studio with engineer Paul Mac and record it. I played piano.
Now you can finally hear the studio version, and see the video we created using Sydney Festival footage (with the help of amazing direction and editing from Larry Heath from the AU Review and extra camera work from Johnny Au). The lip-synching is a little janky, but it almost works in a disturbing sort of way. I often hate the idea of marrying live footage with studio sound, but I think in this case we kinda pulled it off.
Here we are backstage in Sydney, getting ready to HIT IT.
Brendan, if you don’t know him, is a powerhouse talent just getting big in Australia and his voice and presence are beyond imagination.
I hope you can see some of that in this video.
This song itself, though, took on a bigger significance for me as time went on. It’s part of why I waited to release it and I’ll tell you the story now.
When I first heard this tune, which is by the phenomenal Natasha Khan from Bat For Lashes (and co-written by Justin Parker), I was just speechless.
What a perfect, beautiful offering of a song.
Nobody knows who “Laura” is truly about (though there are theories, and I particularly like the Laura Jane Grace theory…) and so, as good songs do, it shall remain a rorschach.
I have my own version of this song, and my own Laura.
Laura, my Laura, is Anthony’s wife.
So many of you know the story of Anthony and my beautiful friendship with him, especially if you read The Art of Asking. Laura makes a brief appearance in the book, but I don’t say very much about her.
She and Anthony shared a True Love – the kind of love I’ve almost never seen. Their communication, their joy in each other, their ability to work through the hard stuff and love and care for and stand by each other, especially through the four years of cancer that ravaged and took Anthony’s life…it has been an inspiration to me. In my own life, in my love life, in my idea of what love can be and how deep things can go.
When I first met Anthony (I was nine), Laura was kind of a shadowy adult figure at his side…Anthony had this fun, playful relationship with me and Laura was the Lawyer he was married to.
By the time I was in my twenties, I started to see how very human and real Laura was, and I started to have a kind of a reverence for their relationship. And by the time I hit my thirties, Laura and I were actually able to grow close. When Anthony got ill, I felt closer to her than I ever had, and the time that we spent caring for him, especially those last few days at his deathbed, brought her into my heart in a way that will never go away. She’s a true friend, a sister, a soul-mate, just like Anthony was, in our collective search for compassion and here-ness. I love her so much.
Anthony died peacefully, in Laura’s arms (with me and Neil and a fetal-baby-Anthony in my womb holding him from behind), exactly one year ago today, on June 22nd.
Laura’s been having a rough go of it since Anthony died, as anybody would. She’s lost her love but she’s still glittering, shining, finding the light in everything she can.
She’s been a hero to me, truthfully, in the year since Anthony died, because every time I see here, she’s so totally honest about how she’s feeling, and she’s smiling, and she’s finding the good in things. She’s staying in the light and not letting the grief knock her over and into the dark.
On her first birthday without Anthony, this past november, some friends and family gathered in Anthony’s brothers house (where we’d also held Anthony’s funeral) and I sang this song for Laura as my gift to her. The lyrics, the feeling of sisterhood, and the message of this song is so perfect for her. She shines like a bright star that few see, because she isn’t loud – she’s not an extroverted showman and wisecracker like Anthony was…she’s a quieter star, a super star, more than a super star.
Oh Laura – I love you so much. This one is for you, sweet sister. You’re the glitter in the dark.
We’re all sending you love today.
“But without the dark…we’d never see the stars.”
Laura with new little Anthony.
A huge THANK YOU from me & Brendan to the 8,000 PATRONS on https://www.patreon.com/amandapalmer who funded this recording and are giving these artists a salary.
(And ….this is a good time to thank Brendan for being so patient (TWO YEARS) for this recording to finally surface. All Things in their own time.)
-AND…. A WORD FROM BRENDAN MACLEAN HIMSELF-
This has always been a special song to sing with Amanda. We did it first at a Kickstarter concert – there’s something about the struggle of the faded star that I connect with. Not that I’ve been a star yet – but that feeling of hoping you are more than the one thing everyone knows you for. I remember someone captured some footage from a concert in Melbourne and I don’t remember a thing I saw – just me and AFP having a cry as we struggled to get through the lyrics. The same guy that wrote it with Bat For Lashes wrote Video Games and Born to Die with Lana Del Rey. I like that such an indie song has a songwriter from such a commercial pop background, it’s a good sign that a good song is a good song no matter what context or frame you put it in. I think both Amanda and myself appreciate that concept – whether it’s pop or cabaret – whatever you are doing just try and write the best song you can.
Here’s to all the Things.
(or if you’re in Germany watch it on vimeo here)
you can also freely stream (or download the song for $0.50, since we need to pay licensing fees to the original writers) on bandcamp HERE.
Performed by Amanda Palmer and Brendan Maclean
“Laura” Written by: Natasha Khan, Justin Parker
Piano: Amanda Palmer
Vocals: Amanda Palmer & Brendan Maclean
Produced by Paul Mac
Video Directed and Edited by: Larry Heath
Cameras: Johnny Au and Larry Heath
Filmed in The Spiegeltent at Sydney Festival 2014
Photo: still from the film of “Laura” live at Sydney Festival 2014 by Larry Heath
Design: Brendan Maclean