Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Big Ones Get Away (1992)

 |   |  1 min read

Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Big Ones Get Away
Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Big Ones Get Away (1992)

There are three distinct but overlapping public faces of Native American singer/songwriter Sainte-Marie: the woman who wrote and sang Universal Soldier and the theme to the film Soldier Blue in the Sixties; the permanent cast member of Sesame Street between '76 and '81; and a lifelong activist in the Native American movement.

But there was always much more to her: she is a much exhibited digital artist; her early song Cod'ine was covered by the Charlatans and Qucksilver Messenger Service in the San Francisco hippie era; one of her marriages was to producer/arranger Jack Nitzsche (he orchestrated River Deep Mountain High for Phil Spector, played keyboards on albums for the emerging Rolling Stones, wrote the soundtrack to One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest); she co-wrote the Grammy-winning Joe Cocker-Jennifer Warnes hit Up Where We Belong with Nitzsche and Will Jennings; has worked for any number of Native American and charitable causes . . .

Her music career was erratic for a while and after 15 years away she returned in '92 with the remarkable album Coincidence and Likely Stories which included memorable songs such as Bad End, Disinformation, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and others which were thrilling in their emotional power and soaked with honesty and truth.

She played almost every instrument herself and spoke of corrupt politics, the struggle of the Native American movement, and the dangers any radical faces when confronting the system ("my girlfriend Annie Mae talked about uranium, her head was filled with bullets and her body dumped, the FBI cut off her hands and told us she'd died of exposure").

It was tough stuff but there were also songs of love and of the solace nature can offer.

The sadness at the heart of The Big Ones Get Away is leavened by the supportive love she offers her partner. And lines like "don't the wars come easy, don't the peace come hard" are, sadly, still universally true. 

For more one-off great or unusual songs see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

David Peel and the Lower East Side: Up Against The Wall (1968)

David Peel and the Lower East Side: Up Against The Wall (1968)

New York's David Peel was living proof of the adage, "It isn't what you know, it's who you know". And how you could milk that association -- however brief -- for all it's worth. He... > Read more

Oasis: The Shock of the Lightning (2003)

Oasis: The Shock of the Lightning (2003)

With the Gallagher brothers Liam and Noel going their own ways, at least for the time being (and some might wonder why they hadn't split up previously), you could almost get nostalgic for the glory... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

NAUGHTY PUSSY by KATHRYN VAN BEEK

NAUGHTY PUSSY by KATHRYN VAN BEEK

Because of their temporary nature and purpose, band and music posters are often an ignored art form. Not all such posters are artistic however, most are just fit-for-purpose: name, date,... > Read more

NZ OPERA'S BUNGA-BUNGA VERDI: Rigoletto in Berlusconi's Rome

NZ OPERA'S BUNGA-BUNGA VERDI: Rigoletto in Berlusconi's Rome

Ten days out from Christmas and little more than a fortnight before the 2012 Sydney Festival opening night and director Lindy Hume seems almost unnaturally relaxed. Might have been the... > Read more