Saturday, May 16, 2009

Vikki Thorn

Last night, before we went to bed, Jack and I went to see who I'd be writing about this morning.

Vikki Thorn.

I had no idea who she was.   I had a hunch she was part of a musical group though. I think one day in January I added a bunch of musical people that I found on my Playlist.

Anyway, I was right.

She's part of the Waifs.

I have songs of theirs on my YouTube Playlist. My favorite is Bridal Train. I think it's a beautiful song.

I also have Lighthouse. I like it, but I don't love it.

I have SunDirtWater. I don't think I've ever paid it much attention.

Now I'll go talk to Lord Wiki, so I can maybe find out more.

Thorn and her sister Donna Simpson grew up in Albany Western Australia.

I lost my brain for a moment and had to ask Jack if it's West Australia or Western Australia. He told me the answer. Then he got up, came over, and looked over my entry to see if there were any mistakes. He corrected my blog post title. I had forgotten to capitalize the T in Thorn. Oops.

Thanks, Jack.

As for Albany. Who did I write about recently that was from there? Was it Paul Kelly? See. I learn and then I forget. Fun.

Okay. It's not Kelly. It's Tim Winton. Well, I wrote about Winton the day after Kelly. All these people are becoming blurred in my mind.

Little Donna and Vikki were the daughters of a fisherman.

In high school, Vikki was a bit wild. I guess she was the younger sister, because she'd ask Donna to buy her alcohol. Donna says she refused. I wonder if that's true.  I mean in terms of her refusing. Would that be something someone wants to admit? Yes! I bought beer for my under-aged sister.

Thorn started playing guitar as a teenager. When she graduated, her sister picked her up in her car and asked if Thorn would like to travel with her.

They traveled around Western Australia. They played blues in bars.

This all took place in the early 1990's. Thorn must be close to my age because I graduated from high school in 1991.

While touring, they met Josh Cunningham. They had a short talk with him. And with that...the three of them formed The Waifs.

Until 1996, they continued to tour Western Australia. Then in 1996, they made the decision to get more serious about their music career. They moved east.

Their first album came out that year. They named it after their group.  The Waifs. By the year 2000, they had three albums behind them.

Their popularity kept increasing....

My favorite song "Bridal Train" was released in 2004. The song won the USA songwriting contest in 2006. That's interesting.

The grand prize winners of the most recent competition were Jordan Zevon, Jordan Summers and Morty Coyle from Los Angeles.

I think what's interesting is anyone can enter the contest; both amateur and professional.

The price to enter is $35 per song. It's a pretty inclusive contest. Anyone around the world can enter. You can write in your native language.  No need to translate. There's lyric only categories for people who can't write the music part. And there's instrumental categories for people who can't write lyrics.

According to Lord Wiki, Thorn no longer lives in Australia. She lives in Utah. That surprises me a bit.

She's married and has two sons. Neither of them are named Banjo.

She once had a thing going on with Josh Cunningham; but it didn't work out. It's nice that they can still work together though.

Now I'm reading what Lord Wiki has to say about the Waifs in general.

He says they've had two top 50 ARIA singles. One was "Bridal Train". The other was "London Still".

Bob Dylan likes The Waifs and invited them to tour with him for awhile around North America.

They own their own American record label.  Jarrah Records. They do this in partnership with John Butler. Did I mention that when I wrote about Butler? I don't think so. But maybe.

Before they met Cunningham and became The Waifs, the two Thorn sisters called themselves The Colours. I wonder why they chose the name the Waifs. What does that word mean anyway?

Okay Lord Wiki says it originally referred to orphans.  Forsaken children. More recently it has come to be a word that describes celebrity women who glamorize eating disorders.

I found more stuff about Bob Dylan. They toured with him in Australia. He enjoyed working with them; and then invited them to tour with him in America. It was a big deal for Thorn and her sister because they had been fans of his when they were aspiring musicians.

The song "Bridle Train" is about Thorn's grandmother. She was a war bride.  She traveled to San Francisco to meet her American husband.

The Waifs did a short tour with the John Butler Trio in 2008.

Okay. I'm going to leave Lord Wiki now.

I guess I'll do my usual....start with their official site.

There's a newsletter on the site. In it Vikki expresses the doubts she had about the whole musical tour thing. She says, I sometimes question the importance or significance of doing what we do. The enormous amount of resources and energy consumed to bring 2 hours of live music together seems to outweigh any financial, creative or social benefits a performance may achieve. This has been my thoughts in the past.

The tour made her change her view of things. She said I like to think we are part of a collective consciousness and because people have reached out and shared their experiences, I have been able to reconcile some of my own feelings of doubt and allowed myself to consider that when you play music to thousands of people who smile back at you and sing along that maybe, all together, we have created some joy to be released into the atmosphere with all that co2.

I think most artists have these doubts at some point. There's that question of whether we're actually contributing something to the world.

A couple of years ago I got back into fiction writing. I decided to re-pursue that as a career. Mr. Rude-Thanksgiving-Guest was staying at our house. We took him out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. We somehow got into the conversation of writers.  I think specifically Stephen King. And Mr. Rude-Thanksgiving-Guest said something about writing not being a REAL job. I don't think he knew about me wanting to be a writer. He wasn't joking or trying to get a rise out of me. He was serious.

Mr. Rude-Thanksgiving-Guest is a real estate agent. He has a REAL job. He's doing something REAL for people.

Writers really don't do anything for anyone.

I guess this guy never reads books, newspapers, or magazine. I guess he also never watches TV or movies.

Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway. I was very offended.

I think artists, writers, musicians, dancers, etc. do contribute something to society. They entertain us. They make us think. They bring us joy. They open up our emotions. They make us see possibilities. And the shared cultural experiences helps us to connect to others.

Now I do think some artists take things too far. They get wrapped up in their own self-importance. There's a big difference between thinking you have a gift to share with the world and believing you are THE gift to the world.

There's a difference between wanting to connect to other people on a human level and wanting to be worshiped by your fans like a god. I think most celebrities unfortunately fall in the latter category, but I think there are a few exceptions.

The Waifs have a MySpace.

They have two new band members who tour with them. Lord Wiki mentioned this too, but I ignored him.

There's Ben Franz on Bass, and Dave MaDonald on drums.

The Waifs toured with Missy Higgins a bit.

Thorn's sister lives in Minnesota. I think it's interesting that they chose to live in these states. And why did they leave Australia?

I know what a certain American would say to that. Recently I heard him say that EVERYONE in the world wants to live in America.

I'm sure there are Australians who want to live in America. In fact, I know there are some. And there are Americans that want to live in Australia. Some of us want to continue living in the country we're living in. Some of us want to move to a different country. All of that is true.

But no. Not every earthling out there is dying to move to America.

The Waifs did an Andrew Denton interview. Good.

They talk about fishing with their dad. For three months out of the year, they'd go to a place called Cosy Corner. I wonder how they handled their schooling? Were they temporarily homeschooled during that period? Did they just take their school work with them?

Donna and Vikki are four years apart. Growing up they weren't that close. It reminds me of my relationship with my older sister. We were never close as children and teenagers. We tried to have as little to do with each other as possible. But when we became adults, we became good friends.

Ha! Denton says the same thing I said earlier about Simpson buying the alcohol. When she says she didn't buy it for her sister, Denton says, Oh you so did!

She might not have. She could have been a strict responsible older sister. Who knows.

Big sister Donna says she wrote in her diary that one day she'd tour with Bob Dylan.

The first time I talked to Tim on the phone (after we had been emailing each other a few weeks) I wrote in my diary that I was going to marry him.

Sometimes the dreams we write in our diary come true. But I probably wrote a ton of stuff that didn't come true. I'm sure at one time I had a premonition of marrying Ralph Macchio. That never came true.  Well, at least it hasn't yet.

Thorn says her interest in playing at pubs was, at first less about the music, and more about going into the places when she was underage.

Thorn's sister picked her up the last day of school in a a yellow kombi. I have to google that because I'm ignorant here. I know it's some kind of vehicle.....

Okay, Lord Wiki is teaching me here. It's one of those hippy-van things.

Donna didn't pick Vikki up and then start traveling right away. I think it was more of a statement.  An invitation. Then they left a few weeks later.

The sisters say they had a positive experience playing in various pubs. People treated them well. They didn't encounter any abusive crap. Thorn says, People were very good to us, and we were looked after wherever we went. That's good.

When they met Josh Cunningham, he smelled bad. The sisters invited him to their hotel room for a shower. That was nice of them.

They tell the story of how they got the name The Waifs. It's kind of cute.

Things became rough for them out on the road so they decided to visit home. When they went to Cunningham's house, his grandmother said something like Oh look at my waif. My waif. Later they went to the sister's house and their family called them waifs as well. How sweet.

At first they played songs written by others. Eventually they wrote their own songs.

They say Vikki is the boss of the group. Why? She's very bossy.

Denton asks what they admire about each other.

Thorn says she admires her sister's generosity because she herself is not that generous. I wonder what she means by that.

By her older sister, Thorn is described. Vikki has a really good head on her shoulders. And she’s a lot smarter than she gives out, and she has a great sense of humour, that most people don’t get to see. And she’s a brilliant mother, as well.

I wonder if she's being genuine with those compliments.

Oh! Now Denton encourages them to say bad things about each other.

Simpson says, Oh. I hate, I hate Vikki, this is what drives me mad about Vikki is, she’s always cutting me off. She’s always, cut me off or cutting me down. In front of people, yeah.
That sounds pretty rough.
I'm sitting here trying to imagine what my sisters would say about me if the three of us were being interviewed like this. And what would I say about them? I guess it would depend on my mood and whether they've pissed me off recently.

The Waif sisters tell a story.

When Simpson first had her chance to meet Bob Dylan backstage, she made chit chat by mentioning his rodeo t-shirt and saying she had been in a rodeo before. Thorn came over and blurted out in front of Dylan. You did not. Then the two sisters sat there arguing about it in front of him.

I wonder who is telling the truth there.

Was Simpson trying to impress someone with lying? If so....I have to say I'm on Thorn's side. I hate when people lie to impress someone. I'd be glad she embarrassed her sister that way. Simpson would deserve it.


Could it be simply that Thorn didn't know everything about her sister? If so, it's incredibly rude of her to deny her sister's experiences like that. I feel that there's a LOT of stuff about me that my sisters have NO idea about. They're in the dark regarding about 50% of my life. I'd be very angry if I said something to someone and my sisters denied it in front of that person.

Both the Waif sisters followed in their grandmother's footsteps. They married American men.

Now I'm reading this article which says they took a four year hiatus. I guess it was for family/child raising stuff. They're back to work, but things are different. Their families come with them when they tour. I think that's good. I think it would be a great experience for a child...traveling around the world, seeing new places and meeting new people. I think that's better than a child sitting in a classroom having a long seperation from a parent.

The article is a little hard for me to follow. I'm having a hard time figuring out who is saying what--Simpson or Thorn.

I think I got it now though.

I thought each line of the article was a different sister. But I think it's one sister talking until the writer of the article says that the other sister said something. I'm probably not making sense here if you haven't seen the article.

Anyway Thorn talks about how having children made them less narcissistic. She says, We were always self-absorbed and it’s given everybody in the band a focus outside of our music. She also says, It’s not my driving passion anymore because I’ve found ultimate fulfillment outside of music and that’s refreshing, because I think it gets a bit narcissistic when your whole world is music and you define yourself by what you do. That's good. I'm glad that children have brought more balance into their lives.

I do think sometimes having children makes some people less self-absorbed. Unfortunately it doesn't always work that way though. Some parents remain narcissistic and their children suffer the consequences. I'm sure a lot of famous parents fit into this category. The celebrity who demands worship from others will also demand worship from their children.

All right. I'm almost ready to end this. I have to shower, do laundry, pack for the lake house, etc.
But before leaving I shall look at Twitter.

What are people saying about The Waifs?

Dootsiez says, Listening to the Waifs at night gives warm fuzzies. Where's my pashmina?

What is a Pashmina? Is it that shawl thing?

Okay. Yes it is. If the music gives her warm fuzzies, then why does she need a pashmina? Oh maybe the music gives her the desire for warm fuzzies? Am I getting this right?

Wait. I think I get it. When I have the warm fuzzies, I want to cuddle Jack. Something gives you that warm fuzzie feeling and then you want to cuddle something. Originally when I read her Twitter, I had it wrong. I was thinking that the music made her cozy and warm. But I guess instead it made her want to seek out coziness and warmth.

Why am I rambling on and on about this?

TomDickens says,
gonna get a haircut. Maybe ironically listen to the waifs song simultaneously. Why is that ironic? Do they have a song about haircuts?

Ah! Yes, they do. Here are the lyrics. I can't find the Waifs singing it on YouTube, but I did find heatherh210 doing a cover of the song. Oh cool. Heather also has a cover
Linkfor one of my favorite Joshua Radin song.

Hey, I just noticed. Tom Dickens sings too. Maybe he should get together with Heather. They can form their own musical group! I think they'd be adorable together.


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  2. Opps...sorry...typos in my first comment. I love The Waifs! Bridal Train is one of my favourites too. A couple of years ago they toured the US with Paul Kelly too. Cheers! :)

  3. Aussie in the USA,

    I didn't notice your typos!

    Bridal Train is a really beautiful song.

    It would be great to see them with Paul Kelly.

    Enjoy your weekend!!!

  4. A Kombi van is an iconic vehicle to someone my age. Made by the German car company, Volkswagens and the Kombi infested Australia in the sixties and seventies. They were very different to the normal Australian car. Kombis could be used as camper vans or as tradesmens' vans or for just about anything.

  5. Andrew,

    I think they look pretty cool. If I had a time machine, I think that's where I'd want to go....Australia in the 1960's and 1970's.

  6. London Still is a beautiful song

  7. Nursemyra,

    I'm going to go and listen to it again....

    I write about all this music, listen to it once, and then move on to something else.