Wendy Waldman
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Wendy Waldman


Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music


"Album Review"

Issue No. 146, October 25, 1973
Pages 60-61

Love Has Got Me
Wendy Waldman
Warner Bros. BS 2735

Love Has Got Me is an apt title for this collection, since its content is a torrent of celebration and includes practically every pop style extant. Wendy Waldman, a 22-year-old Southern Californian who has written more than 150 songs, makes music that doesn't so much exemplify these styles as synthesize them with grace and fluency. In addition to singing, she plays piano, guitar and dulcimer. Her vocal quality is reminiscent of Laura Nyro's, although lighter and less affected. She takes the rock bottom bass lines that comprise the skeletal foundations of many of her songs from the blues. And she borrows from Joni Mitchell, although, as in the other cases, she treats the source as but another approach at her disposal.

No one of her 12 original songs is like any other. Many are apparently autobiographical, dealing directly with her own ups and downs in love, almost always with philosophic maturity and good humor, and it is her special gift and good fortune that she can turn everything she touches into a legitimate area of personal creation.

The structures of Waldman's songs adhere to contemporary form. Most are short and have the flow and "rightness" that is the hallmark of the finest and most durable tunesmiths. Add to this her compelling lyrics, whose underlying theme is a vividly imagined spiritual restlessness, and you have the singer-songwriter debut of the year.

Due credit for the success of Love Has Got Me must go to producer Charles Plotkin, whose only previous production was Steve Ferguson's unjustly ignored debut album on Asylum earlier this year. For Wendy Waldman he has provided a satisfying, understated setting, one that allows the artist and her material to shine. Each cut begins simply, with Waldman backing herself on either piano or guitar. Various elements -- electric guitar, backup vocals, scaled-down strings and, most importantly, excellent brass arrangements -- gradually accrue, lending each song its aura of self-contained inevitability. Sidemen for the album include Jim Horn (brass), Russ Kunkel (drums) and Wilton Felder (bass). Among the guest backup vocalists are Maria Muldaur (who recorded two of Wendy's songs on her extraordinary solo debut Maria Muldaur), Linda Ronstadt, Greg Prestopino and Jennifer Warren.

The album opens with "Train Song," a hypnotic fantasy in which romantic and spiritual freedom are equated with riding a train in the morning sun. A nice organ-guitar arrangement balanced equally against background vocals creates a delicate yet relentless momentum above which Waldman sings the song's pictorial refrain: "You. can see them chase their hats as the train passes by." "Thinking Of You" is a tender lullaby-reminiscence of an old love. A soft string arrangement punctuated by hard triplet piano chords builds toward a powerful emotional climax. "Gringo En Mexico" is an ingratiating Latin-flavored song that celebrates being happy and carefree on the Mexican seacoast: The track becomes even more ecstatic as the lyrics change from English to Spanish. The beautiful "Horse Dream," a night vision delivered with a strong gospel fervor, has Waldman singing to only her own piano accompaniment.

Then the bluesy "Can't Come In" provides a perfect change of pace. Opening with chunky acoustic guitar chords that recall the intro to Joni Mitchell's "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire," the cut abruptly segues into a harder, meaner sound as Waldman enacts her desperately painful rejection of a still-attractive lover who has hurt her too many times in the past to be given another chance. Toward the end, a triumphant brass choir comes up front to confirm the lady's resolution. The side closes with the beautiful "Pirate Ships," another magical lullaby, this one sung to a child with a simple arrangement featuring piano, light strings and laid-back vocals.

"Old Time Love," which opens side two, is probably the album's strongest candidate for a hit single. It is a moving tribute to the imaginative power of music, specifically old records:

Well you come to me on the record player
Let me start it from the first side again
'Cause it sounds so fine to me
Are you just a storyteller
Telling stories just to kill your own pen
But it sounds so fine to me . . .

"Vaudeville Man" follows and, unlike Maria Muldaur's gutsier, Dixieland interpretation, Waldman's is more soulful and tentative at the outset, then accumulates a strutting confidence as recollection gives way to rollicking affirmation. "Natural Born Fool'' is a happy-go-lucky expression of the feeling of being a temporary loser, unable to cope with anything, while "Waiting for the Rain" is an ethereal torch song with strong echoes of "Willow Weep for Me."

The title cut, which concludes the album, sums up everything that Wendy Waldman is about. Here she proclaims that with the passage of time, the quality of love changes in unforeseeable ways; that sustained commitment to a lover is difficult; and finally that the question of whether two people really "know" each other is ever-recurrent in an intimate relationship. One of the ways Waldman accomplishes all this is to wring contradictory lyric changes on a single line: `'Well love can blind you, this I know / If love has found you, you better let it go / Well love has got me / this I know." The song is Waldman's ultimate expression of self-acceptance and positive belief. By the time it ends, her music has got me, and I'm not about to let it go. - Rolling Stone Magazine


Love Has Got Me (Warner Bros., 1973)
Gypsy Symphony (Warner Bros., 1974)
Wendy Waldman (Warner Bros., 1975)
The Main Refrain (Warner Bros., 1976)
Strange Company (Warner Bros., 1978)
Which Way to Main Stree (Epic, 1982)
Letters Home (Cypress/PolyGram, 1987)
Love Is the Only Goal: The Best Of Wendy Waldman (Warner Bros., 1996)
Seeds And Orphans (Longhouse, 2003)

With the band Bryndle:
Bryndle (Pony Canyon/MusicMasters/BMG, 1995)
House of Silence (Longhouse, 2001)
Bryndle Live at Russ and Julie's (Longhouse 2003)


Feeling a bit camera shy


"The structures of Waldman's songs adhere to contemporary form. Most are short and have the flow and "rightness" that is the hallmark of the finest and most durable tunesmiths. Add to this her compelling lyrics, whose underlying theme is a vividly imagined spiritual restlessness, and you have the singer-songwriter debut of the year."

-Stephen Holden/Rolling Stone Magazine (October 25, 1973)

* * * *

Wendy Waldman is a critically acclaimed recording artist and multi-platinum songwriter in musical genres ranging from country to pop, rock, film, jazz, children's music and R&B. She has made eight critically acclaimed solo albums, toured extensively and is one of the first female record producers to have a major impact in the music industry.

Her career started in Los Angeles in the early 1970's with the band Bryndle (made up of Waldman and her friends Karla Bonoff, Kenny Edwards, and Andrew Gold). After an unreleased album for A&M Records, the members of the group all went their separate ways. However, Bryndle proved to be a powerful springboard for all four partners, who each went on to highly successful careers.

The first Wendy Waldman album, "Love Has Got Me," was released by Warner Bros. Records in 1973 and proclaimed by Rolling Stone Magazine to be the "singer-songwriter debut of the year." She was then the youngest member of the Warner Bros. "brain trust" - a group of artists signed to the label who were known for their innovative and critically acclaimed approaches to music - which also included Maria Muldaur, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Captain Beefheart, and Van Dyke Parks. "Love Has Got Me" contains an exquisite collection of songs, including the beautiful "Pirate Ships," which was later covered by several artists including Judy Collins and Robert Smith of The Cure.

Waldman developed a strong fan following with the release of subsequent albums on Warner Bros., all of which are highly acclaimed showcases for her amazing songwriting talents and often striking vocal performances. "Gypsy Symphony" (1974) features one of Wendy's signature songs, "Mad Mad Me," originally recorded by Maria Muldaur for her platinum debut album; "Wendy Waldman" (1975) contains the fan favorite, "Western Lullaby;" "The Main Refrain" (1976) was the biggest commercial success of Wendy's solo albums and features an array of top notch artists/musicians, including Linda Ronstadt, who lent harmony vocals to the opening track, "Eagle And The Owl" (the two collaborated many times, as Wendy toured with Linda and the pair also wrote and performed the children's song, "I Want a Horse," from the Grammy-winning "Sesame Street" album, "In Harmony"); "Strange Company" (1978), which rounds out the Warner collection, features "Long Hot Summer Nights," which was a strong regional hit, reaching the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the late summer of 1978.

More than 70 other artists have recorded Waldman's songs. Among her biggest records are Vanessa Williams' "Save The Best For Last" (one of Billboard's Top 5 singles of 1992) and "The Sweetest Days;" "Baby What About You" by Crystal Gayle; "I Owe You One" by Aaron Neville; "Oh Industry" (from the multi-platinum soundtrack, "Beaches") by co-written with and performed by Bette Midler; Don Johnson's "Heartbeat," a song originally performed by Waldman on her 1982 Epic Records release "Which Way To Main Street," produced by Eddie Kramer (Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, KISS); and "Home Again In My Heart" and "Fishin' In The Dark" by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (the latter of which was recently covered by Garth Brooks for his new "Lost Sessions" CD).

Starting in the late 1980's, Wendy Waldman became the first woman to produce country music extensively and became responsible for Susy Bogguss' now classic award-winning debut album, "Somewhere Between," which won the Academy of Country Music's New Artist Award in 1989. Wendy went on to deliver successful albums by New Grass Revival, Forester Sisters, Jonathan Edwards, Matraca Berg and The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, among others.

In 1996, Warner Bros. issued "Love Is The Only Goal: The Best Of Wendy Waldman." The CD, which contained a new version of "Mad Mad Me," documented highlights from her collection of 1970's albums, all of which were reissued on CD by Collector's Choice in 2005.

Recently, Wendy has been focusing on independent productions, where she believes a lot of great new talent will be found. She masterminded and produced both of John Cowan's well-received solo albums for Sugar Hill Records, the critically acclaimed "Cowboy Savant" by Ronny Cox, Brian Joseph's "The King of Echo Park" and has also helmed production for new albums by Arthur Lee Land and Anna Wolfe. Owning her own studio (The Longhouse) makes it possible for her to devote considerable time and care to the production of each of her projects. Currently, Waldman is producing "Acoustic Sunset," a live acoustic album for the Los Angeles based rock band Hypnogaja.