Troubador Sandy Denny

Released: 08/03/2019

eISBN: 9781838598693

Format: eBook

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Sandy Denny

Reflections on Her Music


Twice voted Top British Female Singer by readers of Melody Maker, name-checked in a Kate Bush song, photographed by David Bailey, she is the only guest vocalist ever to appear on a Led Zeppelin album, and was described by Zeppelin’s Robert Plant as ‘my favourite singer out of all the British girls that ever were’.

For all the accolades, Sandy Denny (1947-1978) remains curiously elusive. Yet, with growing media interest and the reissue of her entire back catalogue, the signs are that Denny’s talent is burning brighter than ever. She emerged in the mid-Sixties while still a teenager, performing on the folk revival scene where she displayed her mastery of traditional singing before moving onto her own compositions and contemporary material. She was a leader of the folk-rock movement, a sound she was instrumental in creating. Whether in her solo recordings or as a member of bands such as the Strawbs, Fotheringay or—most famously—Fairport Convention, her voice speaks to us still in all its resonant purity. In this book, first published in 2011, Philip Ward presents a series of personal ‘reflections’ on her life and work. He fills in details overlooked by her biographers, surveys recent reissues of her recordings and offers the first in-depth analysis of her songwriting. He looks back to the public events marking the thirtieth anniversary of her death and assesses her alongside some of her contemporaries. In the author's words, the book is ‘a series of experiments’ in how to write about the subject. It concludes with a detailed essay arguing the case that, long before Amy Winehouse or Kate Bush, Denny was the first British female ‘singer-songwriter’ of international stature.

Illustrated throughout, this new ebook edition includes a Postscript reviewing recent developments in her continuing story.


Flashback, Spring 2013.

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Philip  Ward

Philip Ward is a writer, translator and former parliamentary researcher. His publications include Hofmannsthal and Greek Myth (2002), a translation of Frank Wedekind's novella Mine-Haha (2010), and studies of the work of Sandy Denny (2011) and Helen Mirren (2019). He is currently researching a biography of the popular 1920s novelist Michael Arlen. A contributor to a number of arts journals, he lives in Cambridge, where he is a Senior Member of Wolfson College.

Philip Ward
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