Friday, May 19, 2017

In Too Deep

So have a little faith
in where we're going to
Don't ask me where,
you know I just can't tell you
All I know is I'm swept away,
taken by this undertow
The waves are crashing in
Don't let go

– From "In Too Deep"
by Rick Nowels
(recorded by Jenny Morris for her
1995 album Salvation Jane)

This evening for "music night" at The Wild Reed I share New Zealand-born Australian singer-songwriter Jenny Morris's "In Too Deep," a track from her 1995 album Salvation Jane. It's definitely one of my favorite tracks on a collection of recordings that comprise the fourth studio album of Jenny's illustrious career.

I first came across Salvation Jane in the (Australian) summer of 1996-97. I had just turned 31 and was home for the first time since relocating three years earlier to the U.S. in 1994. I'd admired Jenny and her music prior to my move; she had been an acclaimed and popular singer-songwriter since the early 1980s. And so I was excited to discover in a Sydney record store that she had a new album out – her first since 1991's Honeychild. (To hear "Break in the Weather," a track from Honeychild previously highlighted at The Wild Reed, click here.)

In many ways, Salvation Jane provided an appropriate soundtrack for that particular visit home to Australia, my first since coming out to family and friends. Take for instance the lyrics of "Digger," one of the album's tracks . . .

Don't need a thing
when you're running wild
No complication
All you can feel is the wind on your face
Loving the rush of the river
that opened and gave you your dreams

Brave and mighty is the man
with passion he can show
Wise the tall the boy with soul
as pure as driven snow

Don't need a thing
when you're running wild . . .

– From "Digger"
by Jenny Morris, Mark Cawley, and Bill Baker
(recorded by Jenny Morris for her
1995 album Salvation Jane)

Lyrically, "In Too Deep" doesn't reflect the same feelings and experience of liberation as conveyed in "Digger" and some of the other tracks on Salvation Jane. However, its call to have faith in the journey, despite not always knowing the path or even the exact destination, definitely resonated with me when I first heard it, and still does to this day. Also, musically, "In Too Deep" was, and remains, one of my favorite tracks on the album.

About "In Too Deep," Wikipedia notes the following.

"In Too Deep" is a pop song written by Rick Nowels and produced by Andrew Farriss for Jenny Morris's fourth studio album Salvation Jane (1995). It was released as the album's fourth single but was not successful, peaking at #143 on the Australian ARIA singles chart. The song was covered by American singer Belinda Carlisle, produced by David Tickle for her sixth studio album A Woman and a Man (1996). Her version was much more successful commercially, charting at #6 in the UK and #11 in Australia.

Wow! That must have been a bummer: to have someone else score a hit with (to my ears, at least) an inferior version of a song that you first recorded but which didn't take off. I guess it happens a lot, though, in the music world.

As you probably have gathered, I definitely prefer Jenny's more acoustic-sounding recording to Belinda's more poppy, sing-along one. I also prefer the music video made by David Nelson to accompany Jenny's recording of "In Too Deep" – even if the one made for Belinda Carlisle's cover does feature a handsome man splashing around in a bathtub!

I can't be sure, but it looks like Jenny's video was filmed among the wharves and warehouses of Sydney Harbour. I love the diverse group of people she assembled for the video, some of whom are members of her backing band, the psychedelic pop group Electric Hippies. (This group, which included members of the revered Australian hard rock band Noiseworks, also co-produced Salvation Jane.) There's even a famous (and quite elderly) Australian artist thrown into the video's mix of eclectic characters!

For years, the only version of the video available on YouTube was a rather crappy one, quality-wise. I'm happy to report that that's no longer the case, thanks to "ohnoitisnathan75." True, it's not what you'd call top quality; it is, after all, clearly an uploaded home recording from the Australian TV music program rage. Still, it's certainly an improvement on what was once available.

So without further ado, here's Jenny Morris with "In Too Deep" . . .

So you may be wondering what Jenny Morris is currently up to. Well, unfortunately, she's no longer singing as in 2005 she was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, a voice disorder characterized by involuntary movements or spasms of one or more muscles of the larynx during speech. Her last album was the sublime Hit & Myth in 2002.

She may no longer be recording but Jenny Morris is certainly not forgotten. Just this past Wednesday, for instance, Jenny was honored by the music industry at a special ceremony in Sydney. I'll close with the following piece by Iain Shedden from The Australian newspaper.

There was a lot of love in the room on Wednesday when singer Jenny Morris was honoured by the music industry at a ceremony in Sydney. Morris was the recipient of the Excellence in the Community award in recognition of her achievements behind the microphone and as a fundraiser for charities such as Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia and Support Act, the industry body that offers financial and other assistance to musicians in difficulty. Support Act was the host for the fundraising Music in the House event at the Ivy Ballroom on Wednesday and a star-studded roster of talent turned up to lend its support as well as to honour Morris. Actors Sam Neill and David Wenham were there, as was actress Rachel Ward, who hosted the event.

There were stellar performances of some of Morris’s best-known songs by other artists including Montaigne, who offered an admirable acoustic reading of "She Has to Be Loved," and Morris’s younger sister, Shanley Del, who did "Everywhere I Go." The star trio of the afternoon, however, featured Mark Lizotte and Neil Finn, Mark Lizotte and Jimmy Barnes.

The large crowd got more than it bargained for when the supergroup of sorts accidentally performed the two songs on its set list — "You I Know" and "Tears" — together instead of leaving "Tears" for the finale. Suddenly aware of their mistake, the three musos had to scurry off to the green room and learn a few more tunes with which to finish off the show after Morris’s gracious, funny and emotional acceptance speech. That turned out to be a blessing that sparked a standing ovation, with Morris, who had to stop singing after being diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia in 2005, joining the three stars and members of her family for a spirited performance of "Piece of My Heart," before the trio closed the show with Crowded House’s "Don’t Dream It’s Over."

The auction part of the function, conducted with some aplomb by ABC broadcaster Simon Marnie, raised thousands of dollars for Support Act, including $2600 from the sale of a black-and-white portrait of Morris by photographer Tony Mott.

Above: Jenny Morris with fellow luminaries of the Australian music scene Jimmy Barnes, Mark Lizotte and Neil Finn – Sydney, May 17, 2017. (Photo: Adam Taylor)

For more of Jenny Morris at The Wild Reed, see:
Saved Me
Crackerjack Man
Sometimes I Wonder . . .
Break in the Weather

Related Off-site Links:
Jenny Morris: Singer Reveals Career-ending Spasmodic Dysphonia Diagnosis, Hailed a "Real Hero" for Charity Work – Ben Cheshire (ABC News, October 12, 2015).
Jenny Morris Honoured for Fight for Musicians’ Rights as She Reveals She Was Assaulted on Stage – Kathy McCabe (The Daily Telegraph, March 25, 2017).
Singer Jenny Morris on Sharing a House with Michael Hutchence – Christine Sams (Domain, March 27, 2017).
Singer Jenny Morris Honoured in Sydney Ceremony – Iain Shedden (The Australian, May 20, 2017).

Previous featured artists at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo

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