Graham Reid | | 1 min read
The words – sung quietly over a hushed and haunting backdrop – speak about dead-end suburbs, tinny houses, boys getting young girls pregnant, and that place where “there’s always nothing to do”.
The song is ‘Ghost Town’ on Miriam Clancy’s 2009 Magnetic album and as an encapsulation of lives on New Zealand’s margins it is exceptional: “Around here we got loans, we are known by our second names. Around here we don’t own homes, but we got dope and a Valiant Charger ... Around here we don’t do much, we work hard at giving up”.
In 2019 for an AudioCulture column on “deep cuts”, Auckland singer-songwriter Greg Fleming singled out ‘Ghost Town’ as an “acoustic slice of small town noir” in which Clancy “creates a compelling intimacy with lyrics that seem almost tossed off and yet are all the more powerful for it”.
He also mentioned the subtle production by Andre Upston, and Clancy’s skill and courage as a artist who put her heart and soul on the line.
Although she has usually been private about some aspects of her life, in recent times she wrote on her Department of Hearts page of being sexually abused as a child and “when I realised no one would help me, I turned to the dark side and deep into the substances I dove – in a spiraling deathwish – my life forever changed”.
“But the fighter in me and my overwhelming love for music and singing took over, steering me headlong into the cathartic power of a song, of an immersion in sound, where the feeling of Wrongs Being Righted reigned, if only for a minute, in the place of transcendence, of elevation, in the presence of something greater than me.”
These days Miriam Clancy, her husband and four children live in Kutztown, Pennsylvania where they have bought a home (“way cheaper than anything you’d get in New Zealand”) and she has played selected gigs in nearby New York . . .
To read this article in full at audioculture.co.nz go here.
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