THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Rennie Sparks of the Handsome Family

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The Handsome Family: Caterpillars
THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Rennie Sparks of the Handsome Family

As the Handsome Family, the husband and wife duo of Rennie and Brett Sparks have made some of the most beguiling, curious, romantic, strange and delightful  albums to come out of the corner we sometimes call Americana.

They have written albums about science, Brett's bi-polar affliction and the wonder of Nature (the excellent Last Days of Wonder, see here) and their songs have been populated by real people such as Natalie Wood, Amelia Earhart and Nikola Tesla.

Lyricist Rennie brings a wry but also cutely observational eye to her lyrics and their most recent album Wilderness delights in the narural world . . . but with their own spin, of course.

And very soon they will be undertaking another New Zealand tour (dates on the poster below) but before then Rennie answers the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire 

The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .

“The Little Black Fish” sung by Burl Ives

Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .

ZZ Top. I wanted a beard. Still haven’t managed to grow one. I make my husband wear one for me.

Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?

This is strange math. Ramones uber alles. I grew up with them playing evey weekend down the street on Long Island. 

If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .

Pet portraiture.

The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .

Anything sung by Alfred Deller (yes, even the phone book).

Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?

A bathtub full of Telecasters.

The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .

H.P. Lovecraft.... “The Call of Cthulhu.” Now that’s music!

If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)

A field of whispering willows. I would play the wind with huge invisible mallets.

Montana_Sagrada__LaThe three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .

The Stalker by Tarkovsky. 

Midsummer Night’s Dream by Max Reinhardt

The Holy Mountain by Jodorowsky

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)

J.S. Bach, J.S. Bach and anything else by J.S. Bach. Music to make you believe in beauty as a force at work in the world.

One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . . .

“Waterloo Sunset” by the Kinks. I’ve tried many times to climb into that song and stow away. It never ceases to make me feel...

The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .

So I put this magic poster up and I get to live forever? Hell, I’d put a poster of Stalin up on my wall if it meant I was immortal. Maybe it would just make time seem to pass very slowly?

TheHandsomeFamily_Wilderness_bYou are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .

One of my relatives concentration camp numbers. 

David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?

Petting small animals until they begged for mercy

And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”

because it will attract colorful songbirds to your yard when played at appropriate volumes


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