The sweet tunes of Vashti Bunyan
Singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan writes the most delicate, haunting, and unforgettable music. Yet she left the industry for more than thirty years following limited acclaim during the folkie days of the late-1960s. Miraculously her career was re-ignited a few years back in the same neo-folk revival that re-introduced us to the likes of Nick Drake and Buffalo Springfield. We asked her whether she still pinches herself at how differently the last decade has panned out from where it all seemed to be heading. ‘When I wake up in the morning, I have to put into place all that has happened to me over the last eight years and try to believe it all over again. So far I have not become jaded or bored. It is still new and all I could ever have dreamed of when I was 17 or 18.
Through the years between, though, I never dreamed of anything like this — it never crossed my mind that I could ever come back to music and especially that I would ever play live shows. As far as being a ‘folk hero’ goes, well it is funny for me and makes me laugh a lot sometimes, as I don’t see myself as a folkie person at all.
Sure enough I did abandon city life and modern ways for some years. But having children changed all that. I don’t believe in keeping kids from the realities of the world. I always did let them have TV and whatever technology was current, even when we lived a mile up a farm track. I no longer wish to be living in the nineteenth century. I found out all I needed to know about how it is to live without electricity, state support or the internal combustion engine.
I loved the years and learned more than I could have any other way, but couldn’t sustain it without denying that the rest of the world had changed. I have benefited obviously from the change and I emerged to a world that understood me at last – but It’s quite weird sometimes to be thought of still as the girl on the cover of Just Another Diamond Day in her mother’s apron and her sister-in-law’s Grandmother’s old tweed dress, smiling out onto what was a Hebridean field full of cows and sheep and her neighbour’s daughter playing her violin. I live in the city and have done for 15 years now.
I was never a folk-singer and never will be. But I know that the period in my life when I lived that very pastoral existence had a huge and everlasting effect on me and that maybe that effect is what has come through and meant something to other people and to songwriters who are the same age I was when I left music behind’.