“She Used To Wanna Be A Ballerina” by Buffy Saint-Marie - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1971Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

The experimental goth-folk tones of the preceding “Illuminations” had not sold well, and Buffy was under label pressure to deliver a more commercially appealing set. This seems like a pity to me - just when she was getting somewhere artistically another barrier is put in place. In stepped fellow Canadian Neil Young, who drafted in further assistance from his Crazy Horse mates. Predictably, the set isn't as daring as I'd like it to be, and it's not until the closing track on side one, “Helpless”, a slow paced and soulful country rocker which yearns for home, that I feel a strong connection. Neil had first introduced it on last year's Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young LP, “Déjà Vu”; Buffy's version improves the song for me.

Buffy ups the political game on side two which opens with her own song, “Moratorium”, a piano-led anti-Vietnam song with a simple message: “Fuck the war and bring our brothers home”. It was released as the b-side to “Soldier Blue”, which was used as the main theme song for the film of the same name released in the same year. The film ended with a brutal massacre of Native Americans by a Cavalry unit, a true depiction of an historical injustice; the establishment didn't like it one bit and Buffy's hopeless struggle for airplay continued. They'd do well to more closely inspect Buffy's work, for the piece could well be viewed as patriotic, almost pleading for understanding: “When the news stories get me down, I take a drink of freedom to think of North America from toe to crown, It's never long before I know just why I belong here”. Britain was open to the work; brilliantly “Soldier Blue” gave Buffy a Top 10 hit single, and this success was repeated in many countries across Europe.

Sandwiched in-between these fine two songs is “Song Of The French Partisan”, continuing Buffy's love affair with the work of another fellow Canadian, Leonard Cohen. It’s based on “La Complainte du Partisan”, a song about the French Resistance in World War II. The song was written in 1943 in London by Anna Marly (music) and Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie (lyrics). Anna’s recorded version appeared on the LP “Les chants de la Résistance et de la Libération” (L'encyclopédie Sonore 320 E 847, 1963). Leonard’s adaption, with added English lyrics by Hy Zaret, was the first to be renamed “The Partisan”: “When they poured across the border, I was cautioned to surrender, this I could not do; I took my gun and vanished. I have changed my name so often, I've lost my wife and children, but I have many friends, and some of them are with me.” Buffy plays acoustic guitar, and sings in both French and English, heightening the impact of the powerful lyrics. It seems to me she's at her very best when she's free to roam as she pleases.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:18] 5.1.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Rollin’ Mill Man (Gerry Goffin, Russ Titelman) Folk Rock / Americana
A2 [03:21] 6.0.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Smack Water Jack (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) Songwriter
A3 [02:53] 5.4.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Sweet September Morning (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Folk Rock / Americana
A4 [02:17] 5.3.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - She Used To Wanna Be A Ballerina (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
A5 [04:37] 5.1.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Bells (Leonard Cohen) Songwriter
A6 [03:11] 6.8.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Helpless (Neil Young) Folk Rock / Americana
B1 [04:14] 6.3.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Moratorium (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Songwriter
B2 [02:38] 4.6.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - The Surfer (Beverly Sainte-Marie, Ariel Gonzales, Carlos Pardeiro) Pop Ballad
B3 [03:16] 7.8.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Song Of The French Partisan (Anna Marly, Hy Zaret) Folk
B4 [03:21] 6.5.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Soldier Blue (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Blues Rock / Soul Rock
B5 [02:53] 5.8.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Now You’ve Been Gone For A Long Time (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Songwriter

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