wendy mcneill

wendy mcneill

BandFolkCabaret

like Little Red Riding Hood's older, less naive sister.
File under: folk noir...prairie gothic....poeti polka...wild waltz

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Biography

i am a lone wolf
a beauty and a beast
both hunter and hunted
soft tongue and sharp teeth
i'm toned from my travels
yet raw from this road
as i drink from storm puddles
and the stories i'm told
WM (from Such a Common Bird)

BIO

Originally from the Prairies of Canada, Wendy's songs retain her love of wide open space and the longing that such big skies can generate.

She is a fan of underdogs, strange cats and brave hearts. These characters are often the centerpieces of her songs which she creates using looped vocals, accordion, and guitar.

Described as an artist that makes 'dark twisted tales' and 'wise moving music', she has been steadily gaining acclaim for her poignant lyrics and captivating live shows. As she stomps and squeezes her way through off-kilter accordion waltzes, dreamlike folk tales, and cabaret style confessionals, her lush, raw voice, shifts from whisper to howl -taking listeners on an emotional roller coaster with a spirit that is both playful and fierce.

in the beginning...
Mcneill's first musical memories were of her parents folk and old country records being drowned out by her older teenage siblings recordings of Pink Floyd, Supertramp, and Black Sabbath.

The first cassette that she fell in love with (around age 5) was a Dolly Parton and Porter Wagner duets album borrowed from her mother's collection. She often lulled herself to sleep with its sad songs. One of her favorites being 'Jeanie's Afraid of the Dark'. A morbid little tale of a girl who dies young.

Her favorite morning music was another of her mothers tapes -- ABBA. To this she enjoyed dancing around in her Wonder Woman costume and playing air guitar while dreaming that she was either a powerful super hero or a pop star.

skip ahead a decade...

By high school she had developed a fondeness for 'Gothic' music and older art rock and punk bands. Sisters of Mercy, Velvet Underground, Siouxie and the Banshees, The Cure, Blondie were among those in high rotation as she experimented with photography, poetry, and contemporary dance.

She continued her dance training at an arts college where she was exposed to avant garde composers, performance artists, jazz, and musical theatre. Inspired-- she began to write sparce piano compositions for her dance pieces and to develop several multi media pieces. She lists Steve Reich, Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson and Tom Waits as influences.

During this period Wendy paid for her education by working evenings as a bartender in a live music club. The venue had a strong singer/songwriter culture and many characters well versed in the alt- country and folk traditions. While Woodie Guthrie, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, John Prine were frequently covered there was also a wide range of original material. These surroundings fostered her own fledgling songwriting and guitar playing.

Winning a song writing competition awarded Wendy with the opportunity to record her first album, To Whom It May Concern, as well as her first major folk festival showcase -- The Edmonton Folk Music Festival. The critics enjoyed her percussive and unusual guitar style and she was labeled as, "a captivating performer" and, "talented newcomer".

At another festival in 2001, Wendy crossed paths with a French Canadian accordionist. She promptly fell in love with the accordion and added it to her musical mix. This in combination with years of performance experience has recently led one reporter at the Calgary Folkfest 2005 to comment, "Every festival offers someone to discover, and for me that was Wendy McNeill, an Edmonton musician whose sharp-edged songs with accordion and guitar seem like dispatches from a post rock cabaret." Robert Everett-Green, The Globe and Mail July 22/05

McNeill has recorded 5 albums, contributed her music to indie films, dance and theater productions, been showcased on numerous compilation cds, and toured in North America, Europe, Brazil, and Japan.

She no longer dreams of being a super hero or a pop star. She still likes Dolly Parton songs and hopes to dance around in a Wonder Woman costume again someday..

Lyrics

Such A Common Bird

Written By: Wendy McNeill

Such A Common Bird

i am a lone wolf
a beauty and a beast
both hunter and hunted
soft tongue and sharp teeth
i'm toned from my travels
but raw from this road
as i drink from storm puddles
and the stories i'm told

help me figure this out
help me figure you in
you're a shadow to me
that i echo when i sing
help me figure this out
help me figure you into this simple little melody

i have seen angels
they were sleeping in gutters
they were standing in bank lines
they were jumping from towers
they were calling like seagulls
but nobody heard
such a beautiful message
from such a common bird

we want freedom from ourselves
but we can't give it to each other
we want peace between nations
yet we battle with our lovers
we're blinded by billboards and trying to get ahead
choking on ambition and the words left unsaid
all the words left unsaid
weave a simple little melody

i am a lone wolf
a beauty and a beast
both hunter and hunted
soft tongue and sharp teeth
i'm toned from my travels
but raw from this road
as i drink from storm puddles
and the stories i'm told

help me figure this out
help me figure you in
you're a shadow to me
that i echo when i sing
help me figure this out
help me figure you into this simple little melody

Black Angus

Written By: Wendy McNeill

BLACK ANGUS

you say you are quiet because you lack food
i delight in your entree and watch as you chew
now that your steak must be well on it's way
through ten feet of intestines you still have nothing to
nothing to say

i made you the offer to speak of your thirst
but your smirk was enormous and your hands well rehearsed
you were blue with the moonlight and wet with compari
said 'we only have a month, so let's get busy'

la da da la da deh la da do

you were so gentle a decade ago
as i nursed you with spirits at 18 years old
now i'm a woman and i've travelled too
i would like to be more than some charm that you use
you've studied religions, travelled the world
collected artifacts, collected girls
wish i was your brother so that we could hang
so that i could know you....you beautiful-beautiful thing

you're writing a fairy tale and in it is truth
she is an old hag that's toothless and bruised
the twist in the tale is in her last request
she says, ' give me a sugarcoat when of me they ask'
she is your daughter, she is your muse
she's in your drawings and she is in you
and i know you love her
i know you do you beautiful-beautiful thing

Holly O'

Written By: Wendy McNeill

Holly O'

she walks around the corner
her heart small and tight as the ass in her jeans
she is a nail biter
fueled by fire and comic book scenes
she thought art held the answer
but the moments of insight made the questions get larger
she knew this town held treasure
but the map was confusing started feeling like pressure

hey yo
what do you know
sweet holly sweet holly sweet holly o'
hey yo
where will you go
sweet holly sweet holly sweet holly o'

she says she's not worried of being alone
her mind gives her more than her lover
has no desire to travel back home
the big smoke nurtures more than her mother

a three legged dog hobbled across her path
part polka part freak show
she studied she laughed
as she thought about how he'd arrived at that state
was it genetics or some weird twist of fate
no collar no master
how she could relate

hey yo
what do you know
sweet holly sweet holly sweet holly o'
hey yo
where will you go
sweet holly sweet holly sweet holly o'

Carnation

Written By: w.mcneill

CARNATION

a single white carnation
sailed through the air hit the ground
behind it was laughter
and envy and joy in the sound
of passion and power
for the star of the hour
least noble of flowers
lays at her feet like a clown

just a step up from a weed
so common so hardy
a stranger to the fame
and other ridiculous things
a practical type
like the fellow that threw you
who shuffles away
and exits the theatre alone

a single teardrop
softens the crease on his face
one of many hard living has shaped
"oh baby" he cried "why couldn't i ?"
"oh baby" he cried "why?"
"but look at you now, i guess i've done right"
so the carnation man picked up his bottle
and melted back into the night

she was succesful
the newspapers claimed
a pheonix from ashes
but what they never said was
she longed for a call
from the man she hardly knew at all
she folded her kerchif(sp)
and answered the dressing room door

to flashes of light and armfuls of flowers
"just put them over there" she said
"with all of the others"
but a ghost caught her eye
as the usher walked by
a crumpled carnation
fell through the air hit the ground

When the Letter Came

Written By: w.mcneill

When The Letter Came

when the letter came
it was soggy from the rain
the ink was thin and running
and i know the author was the same
because i am he he is me we are they
all handling problems in our own way

he said i don't need a lecture to tell me where it's at
they're full of good opinions and i can accept that
but i don't need their halos playing with my light
sure my lines aren't as smooth as they used to be
but that's alright

are you gonna be like them he asked
are you gonna shut your door
because the sight of me is ugly
because i'm supposed to be more
do you think that i am crazy
do you think that i'm naive
because these poisons are my passion
because i'm living in a dream

well... i haven't got an answer
i haven't got a clue
whatever makes you happiest
i suppose that's what you'll do

oh....those past times keep me thinking
oh....his present makes me say

i could love you more than i've been doing
i could judge you less than i know i say
what could be the answer
would you whisper in my ear
another quote from the last book you've read dear

i thought that i could be the one
your perfect maiden
because in the right light squint your eyes
i'm just right
if you can imagine happy moments by my side
those memories will be the gift from me
my only advice

i haven't got an answer
i haven't got a clue
whatever makes you happiest
i suppose that's what you'll do

Absolute Beauty

Written By: w.mcneill

Absolute Beauty

the violet lining of a thunder cloud
the smell of it as the rain pours down
it gathers bits of brokeness
shards of glass, leaves and sticks
like a ringing bell like a jewelled fist
like souls i know and what they confess
there's a beauty in this

while crying for better i've been spared the worst
never dealt with more than existential thirst
a one up, a pot shot, a gimme gimme all you've got
how can i be shocked when the shark bites
i've been swimming with steak in my pockets all my life

people kill each other i can understand it
just spend 3 hours stuck in a mall or traffic
neurotics getting worshipped while the heroes work the fields
the shadow of the glamour trumps the magic of the real
oh it's getting murky down here
where is the beauty?

that was just a question and this is just a song
in a big old world full of folks done wrong
brave hopes, big dreams and failed attempts
but sometimes a promise does get kept
and there is beauty in this
absolute beauty

Beyong Longing(is laughter)

Written By: w.mcneill

BEYOND LONGING IS LAUGHTER

i never asked you
if you thought there was more
if it gets better beyond the black and the white
our limited sight and perspective of colour

now i'm hoping there's more
i'm hoping

i have a photograph
of you in cat eyed glasses and a sunhat
thin arms and face
smiling
that was the summer now it's the fall
everything is changing and i wonder where you are

and are you happier now
happier now

your smile lives in your girls
your art is in this world
i think of our rain soaked waltz and i'm laughing
your smile lives in your girls
your art is in this world
listen beyond longing your laughter

happier now beyond longing is laughter
happier now beyond longing is laughter

Restless

Written By: w.mcneill

Restless

nothing like a belly full of stitches to let you know you're alive
nothing like the leash of limitation to make you want to try
nothing like a dodgy fortune teller to rush the next good bye
nothing like a naive girl whose wide sad eyes say why
why why why

some of this was in april
most of it was in the spring
but some of it will be the autumn too
what a chill that recognition brings
yes some of this was in april
most of it was in the spring
but some of it will be the autumn too
what a chill that recognition brings

hug me touch me hold me down
until i can't resist
because i have been so restless restless
and i am tired of it

just like these crazy nations history repeating
hot tempered and inflated self defeating
hand over foot digging for something to believe in
a bite to the back of my neck bliss is fleeting

i look at children and i wonder
i smell the flowers and i smile
if today will be tomorrow
then i have done alright so far
nothing like a careless thought
to put a sparkle in the eye
that sparkle is the thing i fall for every time
because i am such a magpie
i i i

hug me touch me hold me down
until i can't resist
because i have been so restless restless
and i am tired of it
i'm so tired of it

Lutetia/ from A Dreamer's Guide to Hardcore Living

Written By: wendy mcneill

Lutetia

she is so soft on this summer morning
church bells ring, her dogs are yawning
warm breeze carries last nights feeling
wine, music, red river dealings

she is ghosts of grandmothers and kings
nine million clowns and pretty things
she is torment she is strife
she is beauty she is spice

ah ha ah ha.....

she cries for the animals, sings for the boys
dirt road charity, stone in her voice
she cries for the animals, sings for the boys
inhales disparity, chokes on the choice

ah ha ah ha.......

she is ghosts of grandmothers and kings
nine million clowns and pretty things
she is torment she is strife
she is beauty she is spice

White Horses/ from Dreamers Guide to Hardcore Living

Written By: wendy mcneill

White Horses

green was the colour of the ocean waves on that day
green was the colour of the ocean waves on that day

green was the colour of the sea
that cast it's glow up and over me
the shade of hope , i reminisced
swallowed hard... laughed..
then made a wish

gold was the colour of the sand
reflecting light, sliding through my hands
there was a rumble .... i saw white
white horses

white horses, white horses, don't leave with my heart
white horses, white horses, don't leave with my heart

Ask Me No Questions/ from A Dreamer's Guide to Harcore Living

Written By: wendy mcneill

Ask Me No Questions

i walked in the garden and what did i see?
fresh blood on some feathers and an old coyote
smiling and growling, looked straight in my eyes
said 'ask me no questions, i'll tell you no lies'

where did you come from? how long will you stay?
like a curious cat, i kept firing away
he had a great story , that much i could tell
he said, 'i am from heaven and i am from hell'

'for decades and decades i've hunted and roamed
but i go incognito no shape of my own
sometimes i am human and rather well known
sometimes i' m the whisper on your nights alone'

'i'll say,
can you see, it's not about hope, it's not about truth, don't be naive
so come dance with me, i'll keep you safe-give you all you can take-
i'll make you happy'

i spun on my heal and i ran toward the street
he was so close behind me i could hear his heart beat
i turned round to face him but he took to the sky
and a dozen old blackbirds started to cry
they said, 'ask him no questions, he'll tell you no lies'
they said, 'ask him no questions , he'll tell you no lies'

Buikding A Castle

Written By: wendy mcneill

Building A Castle

left, right, left was the pace of my steps
as i wrestled with a riddle that was making my mind twitch
it was spring in November
air was full of regret
i said -think baby, think baby, how can i change this?

do do do do.....

i passed a woman on the church steps by the side of the street
she had coins in her cup, a child's hand on her cheek
i said - think baby, think baby, how can i change this?
took the long way home then went to sleep restless

and i dreamt of a castle rich and bright
and everyone in it was filled with light

you'll never know the answer if you stop trying
like bobby says, 'if you ain't busy living your busy dying'
whoever tells you its pointless, well, they're lying
and if that who is you, then you should change your mind
start

buliding a castle , don't sit and cry
because heartache is a hassle and a waste of time

bless the genies and the meanies
and the everyone in between'ies
all the comings and the goings
of the fathers and the thieves
all the freakers and the teachers
all the girls dying to please
all the movers and the shakers
the ones with scratches on their knees

start building a castle, don't sit and cry
because heartache is a hassle and a waste of time

Crossing Hearts/Cutting Threads

Written By: wendy mcneill

Crossing Hearts/ Cutting Threads

talk to me babe you know i'll listen
talk to me babe you know i care............

will is the bullet, want is the gun
shame is the bandit and the cop that he runs from
the rebound the trip, turns into a skip
over a stone , a tree, a cloud, falling...

from checkers to chess, wishlist to guest
a game is a game is a game, i guess
you can read yourself wise, yet in the living go blind
to stones and trees, and clouds, falling...

tell me what it's like when no ones watching
tell me what it's like when no ones there

crossing hearts and cutting threads
crossing hearts and cutting threads

tell me what it like when no ones watching
tell me what it's like when no ones there
tell me what it's like when no ones watching
tell me what it's like because i still care.

Discography

due for release in 2011- For the Wolf, A Good Meal

° A Dreamers Guide to Hardcore Living 2008/09
° The Wonder Show--March 2006/07
° Such A Common Bird
° What's Your Whiskey Baby?
° To Whom It May Concern