Melanie Safka Woodstock

Melanie Safka Woodstock

It was around 11 PM, Friday’s concert continued and the organizers decided to fill in the with an unscheduled performer.

There is a saying that luck is when preparation meets opportunity and if so, Melanie was lucky on August 15, 1969.

Melanie Safka Woodstock

She had signed a recording contract with Buddah Records, recorded an album, and released it in November 1968. Then,  according to an article for Bethel Woods by  Wade Lawrence and Scott Parker, Buddah co-founder Artie Ripp [who] was a friend of Woodstock organizer Artie Kornfeld decided to take a risk and send Melanie to the festival on the chance that she could perform.

Melanie Safka Woodstock 

Poetic License

She did and her performance carries with it a bit of Woodstock trivia. After the concert in response to what she’d experienced there, Melanie wrote her most successful song, Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” because, as the story goes, the Hog Farm had just handed out candles to the crowd and had them light the candles.

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Earlier, just before Tim Hardin’s set began, MC John Morris quickly told a story about a Tiny Tim concert during which the audience lighted matches and Morris asked if the Woodstock crowd could do the same. They did and the illumination impressed both Morris and the crowd.

Before Melanie began, Morris asked for a repeat:

“It’s getting later and maybe they’re wet, but let’s try the match bit again. That really did it. I’d like to see that again. One. Two. Three. Light ’em up! Ahhh..come on. Let’s go. Oh, that’s better. Woooh! Hey, that’s great.

Click to listen.

The 22-year-old was on stage less than a half-hour, but left a long impression.

Her setlist:

  • Close to It All
  • Momma Momma
  • Beautiful People
  • Animal Crackers
  • Mr. Tambourine Man
  • Tuning My Guitar
  • Birthday of the Sun
Melanie Safka Woodstock 

Close To It All

Close To It All was one of the ten songs from her Born To Be album. She wrote all the songs, except her cover of Bob Dylan’s Mr Tambourine Man. 

Melanie accompanies herself with an acoustic guitar and not other backing musicians.

While walking through life I would never fall
If I could be close to it all and all
If I could be close to it all

If I had my dream it would not fall down
If I could live high on the ground
The sound of high is a good one to many around
When they wanna be close to it all

And I wanna be close to it all and all
I wanna be close to it all

The village sugar takers
Madison Avenue pink dream makers
They try to escape from it all
But instead they build walls, that’s all
But they wanna be close to it all

If I had my dream, I would fill a hall
And tell all the people tear down the wall
That keeps them from being a part of it all
‘Cause they gotta get close to it all

The village sugar takers
Madison Avenue pink dream makers
They try to escape from it all
But instead they build walls, that’s all
But they wanna be close to it all

There’s just one more thing that I wanna say
Everyone has got their own special way
That keeps them from getting too close to the day
Accept and be part of it all and all
Everyone tear down your own little wall
That keeps you from being a part of it all
‘Cause you gotta be one with the one and all
And everyone tear down your own little wall
That keeps you from being a part of it all
‘Cause you gotta be one with the one and all
You gotta be close to it all

Melanie Safka Woodstock 

Momma Momma

Momma Momma was also on her first album.

Momma Momma, I fear you reared me wrong
Momma Momma, I fear you reared me wrong
‘Cause I pick up my head, can’t tell where I belong

Momma Momma, something’s hurting me bad
Momma Momma, something’s hurting me bad
I have a yearning for something that I never had

Oh, sometimes I feel my life has come and then it’s gone
Sometimes I feel my life has come and gone
I live in this world but I’m only looking on

I can’t understand, it’s too far over my head
I can’t understand, it’s too far over my head
I’m living the life but I’m really dying instead, yeah

Momma Momma, I fear you reared me wrong
Momma Momma, I fear you reared me wrong
‘Cause I lift up my head and I can’t tell where I belong
Momma Momma Momma Momma, something’s terribly wrong

Melanie Safka Woodstock 

Beautiful People

Melanie Safka Woodstock

Beautiful People did not appear on her first album, but will appear on her second which Buddah would release in October. She had recorded the album in Wessex Studios, Londan.

You live in the same world as I do
But somehow I never noticed
You before today
I’m ashamed to say

Beautiful people
We share the same back door
And it isn’t right
We never met before
But then
We may never meet again
If I weren’t afraid you’d laugh at me
I would run and take all your hands
And I’d gather everyone together for a day
And when we gather’d
I’ll pass buttons out that say
Beautiful people
Then you’d never have to be alone
‘Cause there’ll always be someone
With the same button on as you
Include him in everything you do

Beautiful people
You ride the same subway
As I do ev’ry morning
That’s got to tell you something
We’ve got so much in common
I go the same direction that you do
So if you take care of me
Maybe I’ll take care of you

Beautiful people
You look like friends of mine
And it’s about time
That someone said it here and now
I make a vow that some time, somehow
I’ll have a meeting
Invite ev’ryone you know
I’ll pass out buttons to
The ones who come to show
Beautiful people
Never have to be alone
‘Cause there’ll always be someone
With the same button on as you
Include him in ev’rything you do
He may be sitting right next to you
He may be beautiful people too
And if you take care of him
Maybe I’ll take care of you
And if you take care of him
Maybe I’ll take care of you…
People

Melanie Safka Woodstock 

Animal Crackers

Animal Crackers was on her first album.  Interestingly, the song refers to Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant song as he will follow Melanie.

Oh, eat your animal crackers
‘Cause my mother told me so long ago
“If you eat your animal crackers
The children in Europe won’t starve anymore”
Ha ha ha…
Oh, once I went on a diet
A carbohydrate diet ain’t nice
‘Cause you can’t eat animal crackers
So, I’m gonna stay a fatty for all of my life
Ha ha ha…
But some people think that fatties are nice, yeah
I love eating ice-cream
Chocolate, vanilla and butter pecan
But I best love animal crackers
‘Cause I love helping my fellow man
Yeah, I really do

Did you ever hear of Alice’s restaurant?
I eat at Alice’s restaurant year after year
She makes an animal cracker pizza, ha
And she gives animal crackers out free with the beer
Oh, let’s give Alice a great big cheer
She knows the age of the animal cracker is here
Ah, animal crackers are in this year
Ha ha ha…
Oh, lalala…

There’s a bit of technical advice for her after the song.

Melanie Safka Woodstock 

Mr Tambourine Man

As mentioned above, Mr Tambourine Man appeared on her first album and was the only composition she didn’t write. The crowd applauds upon hearing the first notes.

Melanie Safka Woodstock 

Tuning My Guitar

Tuning My Guitar will appear on her second album.

I’m thinking what I’m doing
I’m thinking what I’ve done
I’m thinking ’bout my mother
Who never thought I’d come
Quite this far from nowhere
To hear myself be sung
But I still haven’t forgotten
I used to do it just for fun

When all the ones around me
Would wonder if they saw
Or heard me singing somewhere
Tuning my guitar

Knock once, I got ten minutes
And every night’s the same
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t in it
When I hear them call my name
Same people all around me
And I wonder who they are
I know they’re not my family
And they’re not my friends by far

They’re all the ones around me
I wonder who they are
They hide behind my curtain
And they hope I’ll be a star

An’ they say, “Get out and sell them”
But selling’s not my aim
I’m gonna sing the life I’m living
And try to ease the pain

Of all the ones around me
No matter who you are
Tonight you’re gonna hold the curtain
I’m tuning my guitar

And all the ones around me
I wonder who you are
You hide behind my curtain
And they hope I’ll be a star
But all the ones around me
Who don’t know who you are
You hide and you look uncertain
But you hope I’ll be a star

And all the ones, all around me
I don’t care who you are
Tonight you’re gonna hold the curtain
I’m tuning my guitar

All the ones, all the ones
All the ones around me
And I don’t care who you are
Tonight you’re gonna hold the curtain
I’m tuning my guitar

Oh all the ones
Who do you think that you are
Tonight you’re gonna hold the curtain
I’m tuning my guitar

Melanie Safka Woodstock 

Birthday of the Sun

The crowd calls for an encore and Birthday of the Sun was it. She did not record the song for an album until her 1971 album, The Good Book. That album was her last official one for Buddah as she left and formed her own company.

Oh, I’m the one
I found the birthday of the sun
But all things change
And now I think it’s the birthday of the rain
If I never said goodbye
To all that I’ve known
I would never be alone
But still I will not cry
I’m not finished yet, boy
So wipe the smile from your eyes
Because if I were to hang my head
I’d miss all the rainbows
And I’d drown in raindrops instead
But you gotta know,
I’m the one
I found the birthday of the sun
And all things change
And now I’m sure it’s the birthday of the rain
If I never said goodbye
To all that I’ve known
I would never be alone
But still I’m gonna win
I’m not finished yet, world
So wipe the smirk from your chin
Because if I were to hang my head
I’d miss all the rainbows
And I’d drown in raindrops instead
But you gotta know, that I’m the one
I found the birthday of the sun
And all things change
And now I’m sure it’s the birthday of the rain
And all things change
Happy Birthday to the rain.

 

After her set, John Morris says, Let’s say goodnight to a very beautiful lady.  Thank her very much. Good night Melanie.

Melanie Safka Woodstock