One of the first known singer-songwriters, Connie Converse never found an audience. In the 1950s, Connie wrote an album of eerie, intimate tracks – but they weren’t released to the public until Squirrel Thing Recordings in the early 2000s. Why? Connie, depressed and worn-down in 1974, packed all of her belongings into her car and drove off, never to be heard from again. The only thing she left behind was How Sad, How Lovely, a collection of strikingly simple narrative-based songs.
Threaded together with a uniting theme of independence and unrequited love, Connie’s songs are anything but traditional, especially for the time period. Lyrics about a murderous day drinker (The Clover Saloon) or the death of a dashing lover (Playboy of the Western World) bring an unusual twist of originality to the album. She’s known for the empathy, insight, and personal perspective that she blends into each of her songs, and her simplistic approach to the album allows for those characteristics to shine through the narrative. Connie’s floating voice and lighthearted guitar make for an ultra-intimate album that runs between amusing, aching, and adorable. Her lyrics, darting around that spectrum, prove this, such as, “Once there was a trumpeter/blew his love a ballad/that was not enough for her/so he blew her a lobster salad” in Unknown (A Little Louder, Love) and, “In between two tall mountains/there’s a place they call Lonesome/Don’t see why they call it Lonesome/I’m never lonesome now I live there.” in Talkin’ Like You (Two Tall Mountains).
I’ve anticipated writing about this one for a while. Honestly, I was worried I wouldn’t do the album justice – and I’m still not sure if I did. The only way to know for sure is for you to go listen to it! At the risk of gushing for the next few sentences, Connie is one of my favorite artists, and I’ve listened to this album enough times to know it forwards, backwards, and inside-out. Go listen to it. Her story is fascinating and haunting, and it makes the album that much more eerie and wonderful.
If you want to learn more about Connie’s story, go check out We Lived Alone: The Connie Converse Documentary by Andrea Kannes!