WHEN GRIEF SITS WITH YOU
Edward from USA sent in this beautiful but heart-breaking letter and I wanted to share it with you all. It is so painfully true of the fractured state inhabited by those fresh to grief – the sense of shattering. I send you all my love and thoughts, Edward. Be strong. We are all with you. And thank you for Ellen Bass’s wonderful and clear-eyed poem.
PIERRE LAROCHE – A TRUE VISIONARY
I met the makeup artist, Pierre LaRoche, on a photo shoot many years ago. He had just returned from living in New York and had settled opposite me in Edith Grove just off the Kings Road. I was in my early twenties. We became very close friends in the short time that he was alive — a truly beautiful soul. He told me the most wonderful stories about T Rex, and about creating David Bowie’s makeup for Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust. He was the most humble of men. He was in my opinion the greatest, most inventive makeup artist the world had ever seen, but back then these extraordinarily talented people did not receive the same recognition and status as they would today. So let’s remember Pierre LaRoche who was a true visionary genius and the most beautiful friend!
DOES THE SNOW LOVE THE TREES?
I’m sitting at the window and watching the sun spill across the courtyard and things seem suddenly full of potential and hope and good cheer. Goodbye Winter, Sweet Spring is here as I remember the beautiful words of Lewis Carroll.
GOD WALKS THESE DARK HILLS
Here is a beautiful, stripped back version of the old Gospel standard God Walks the Dark Hills sung by singer-songwriter Iris DeMent. Both comforting and strangely haunting in its imagery, this song was suggested by Edward from Wilmington, North Carolina, USA. Thank you, Edward and thank you, Iris, for this gorgeous rendition.
SAUDADE FROM CARLOS PAREDES
This song came through to us from a man called Ricardo from Coimbra in Portugal. This gorgeous song by Carlos Paredes is full of saudade and longing for home. Carlos Paredes is considered to be the greatest Portuguese guitar player of all time. Such a deep and lovely instrument, such a wonderful song, so beautiful rendered. Thank you, Ricardo for sending this wonderful song.
SONG OF DEVASTATION – NUMBER 31
The Songs of Devastation are coming thick and fast these days! Someone (I’m sorry I have lost their name) suggested I post this song by my dear friend and Vampire’s Wife advocate, Chan Marshall, better known by her stage name, Cat Power. She is really one of our greatest, most beautiful singers, and this short song, ‘Say’, holds a kind of deep and secret despair, the words circling around an unnamed devastation. A painful and gorgeous thing both, completely and utterly enriching as all these Songs of Devastation are!
WE SAW A FARMHOUSE BURNING DOWN
My husband received this letter into The Red Hand Files from Jay from Toronto, Canada, I have been obsessed with YouTube footage of Joni Mitchel’s beautiful performance of Coyote with Roger McGuinn & Bob Dylan at Gordon Lightfoot’s house and have often wondered what you’d think.
I CAN’T COME TO QUANTIFY THE FEELING
This extraordinary song by Irish singer-songwriter Lisa O’Neill was recommended on The Red Hand Files by a person called Bijan from Sandy in USA. I had no idea this gorgeous song even existed and was swept away by the raw, presence of the vocal and sheer beauty and mystery of the lyric. What a wonderful piece of writing. The child’s understanding voice at the end is a small stroke of genius. So beautiful the whole thing. Thank you so much, Bijan. ‘I can’t come to quantify the feeling’ but I feel like my world has been significantly enlarged. Much love to you.
JOHNNY, OUR SHIP HAD TROUBLE
Here is an amazing letter from Damon from Saint Paul in the USA, comparing the gorgeous song 'Un Bel Di Vedremo' from Giacomo Puccini’s 'Madame Butterfly' with the John Lee Hooker masterpiece ‘The Waterfront’. Both such soul-stirring meditations in longing, in yearning. Thank you so much, Damon. These synchronicities are so beautiful to observe. Love Susie x after my musings about Puccini something struck me. the other day when i was driving my 16 year old to school, i was listening to John Lee Hooker and “The Waterfront” came on. i hadn’t heard it in years. how beautiful that song...
STRANGE AND DEFIANT LOVERS THAT WE WERE
I liked this poem by African American poet, critic, and scholar, Sterling Brown. A weird pastiche on the Shakespearean sonnet, I guess, and on the nature of poetry and human love.
HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET
I heard this gorgeous song from Handel’s Messiah at a friend’s funeral last week. How Beautiful Are The Feet was sung with such dignity by Maria Ladurner. A solemn, measured, blissful sound that made for a spinechilling and time-suspended moment. I went home and listened to the song many times. The few, circling words so perfectly poignant for the ceremony. I found a lovely version from a twelve year old boy soprano Aksel Rykkvin. A thing of rare beauty.
KACEY MUSGRAVES IN THE VAMPIRE’S WIFE
The wonderful Kacey Musgraves sings a gorgeous rendition of ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ in a tribute to the great Loretta Lynn at the Grammy’s last week, dressed in a scarlet Vampire’s Wife Ghost Bow and looking absolutely stunning. Just saying. Here is Loretta Lynn singing her classic song.
SONG OF DEVASTATION - NUMBER 30
This came into my husband’s Red Hand Files from a woman called Hannah from Minneapolis, USA. A lovely letter and yes, Gorecki’s symphony is one of the most moving pieces of music, I have ever heard especially this version sung by the great Dawn Upshaw. Thank you so much, Hannah. I would like to dedicate this beautiful, heart-breaking piece of music to the people of Turkey and Syria. God bless you all.
DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO
I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately fluctuating between these three versions of the Jimmy Webb’s superb song ‘Do What You Gotta Do.’ Firstly, there is the strange, sad, internalised masterpiece by Roberta Flack, then Nina Simone’s weird, haunted defiant rendition, but also a lesser known duet by Cher and her husband Gregg Allman, generally considered, by the music press, to be ‘embarrassing’. Cher and Allman’s off and on relationship was hugely conflicted and unbelievably chaotic but this seems to adds a perverse drama to this duet which I, personally, find extremely moving. Cher is, in my view, one of the greatest, most under-rated vocalists of all time. So, of course, Roberta Flack and Nina Simone’s versions are typically mind-blowing, but when Cher gets stuck into that beautiful melody, I am left just awed.
MY LITTLE BOAT, TAKE CARE
Here is a lovely piece of poetic minimalism as caution and solace by the great Charles Simic, that was sent to me, at just the right moment, from my bestie, Deborah Smith. Deborah, a brilliant photographer, runs the wonderful Cloud Workshop for bereaved children, in that wild upside-down country of New Zealand.
AND I WAS ALIVE
Here is an extraordinary poem written by Osip Mandelstam, a Russian Soviet poet. He was arrested during the repression of the 1930s and sent into internal exile with his wife. Given a reprieve of sorts, they moved to Voroneth in southwestern Russia. In 1938 Mandelstam was arrested again and sentenced to five years in a corrective-labour camp. He died that year at a transit camp near Vladivostok. This poem, And I was Alive is believed to be the final poem he wrote, days before he died. I am deeply moved by the sort of radiant, rapturous devastation of this poem,...
A SLOW SKIFF FROM LOW COUNTRY WATERS
I thought I’d share these very lovely words from a Stuff Page advocate. It is such a pleasure to find people who enjoy The Stuff Page, this weird, and seemingly endless exercise in gratitude. Thank you so much, Dawn! Your letter means a great deal!
JUST WHEN I NEED YOU MOST
I am posting this song, not as someone suggested (whose name I have misplaced (so sorry)) as a Song of Devastation but rather as a great rush of nostalgia that tugs at somewhere deep inside. Randy Vanwarmer singing Just When I Needed You Most – soft rock at its finest – and the cat-suited girls in video, so wild, so beautiful. I adore this song.
As the rain pours down and the cold winds blow and the ice freezes the lake, I adore this bleak, frigid and grieving winter poem by John Crowe Ransom from 1922, that was posted a few weeks ago on Poem-a-day. It chills the bones!
SONG OF DEVASTATION – NUMBER 29
This bleakly beautiful carol, sung to remember the story of the Holy Innocents was sent to me and my husband by someone who preferred to remain anonymous. What a deeply haunting arrangement by Kenneth Leighton. The soloist sings like an angel. The soloist is an angel!
IN A BROKEN DREAM
I feel a great need to share this song with you all. Perhaps I already have! This is Rod Stewart’s greatest vocal performance which, for anyone who is a Rod Stewart fan, is saying something. He sang this with a little known band from New Zealand (although Wikipedia says Australia) called Python Lee Jackson, active from 1965 to 1969. The group had recorded In a Broken Dream in 1970 featuring Rod Stewart, as guest vocalist. I have no idea why. The song is so beautiful, so epic, so antipodean. A pure and sublime classic.
TO SIR WITH LOVE
To Sir With Love, sung by Lulu. I adore this wonderful, coming-of-age song, and I love the movie. My husband told me that his first band, The Boys Next Door, used to do a cover version of this song. That I would’ve liked to see! Love Susie. x https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV1qmmMwc9M To Sir with Love Those schoolgirl days Of telling tales and biting nails are gone But in my mind I know they will still live on and on But how do you thank someone Who has taken you from crayons to perfume? It isn't easy, but I'll try If you wanted...
WATERS OF MARCH
I have been listening to this extraordinary and much loved song from Brazil a lot lately. The beautiful, warm performance by Lis Regina and Tom Jobin of Águas de Março or Waters of March moves the heart. It is such a deep, strange happy/sad song about the passing of life, of time, perhaps. It was sent in to my husband’s Red Hand Files but there has been such a volume of mail lately he has lost the sender’s name. We apologise for this but thank whoever sent it very much. Instant happiness.
SONG OF DEVASTATION - NUMBER 28
Sonia from Wollongong sent this message, with a Song of Devastation recommendation. Sonia is right. This gorgeous song by Suzanne Vega is a lovely old-school ballad, and the words are beautifully, grippingly, gently devastating. “I've swallowed a secret burning thread/ It cuts me inside, and often I've bled” What a couplet! Thank you so much, Sonia. It means a great deal to me that people take the time to make suggestions for The Stuff Page. The whole exercise feels communal and cooperative. Many thanks! Love Susie x Dear Nick (and Susie too) I have a recommendation for a song of...
WE SHAKE WITH JOY
A lovely little poem by Mary Oliver sent by my friend Deborah Smith, who runs the formidable Cloud Workshop, a magical space where bereaved children meet and make art. My husband and I are lifelong supporters and in awe of Deborah’s fierce but gentle energy. Many thanks, Debs, for all the work you do, and this beautiful and truthful poem. You’re a star!
THE GHOST OF LOSS GETS INTO YOU
I would like to present to you, this beautiful poem, composed and spoken by John O’Donohue. It was written for the poet’s mother. How I wish I had a man who could write me beautiful words such as these. O I forgot! I do! Enjoy this blessing, sent to you from me, with all the love in the world.
BRING ME THE DUST FROM HER DOORWAY
Here is a beautiful, hopelessly love struck poem by the 14th Century Persian lyric poet, Hafez, lovingly translated by our dear Iranian friend, Sadegh Nedamati. Hafiz, the trickster and master alchemist of language, is one of the true greats. Please stay safe, Sadegh.
SIMONE WEIL - PATRON SAINT OF ANOMALOUS PERSONS
I’ve been reading, yet again, the unorthodox aphoristic writings of the great Simone Weil, philosopher, social activist and probably one of the greatest mystics of all time. T. S. Eliot called her “a woman of genius, of a kind of genius akin to that of the saints”. I adore her terse, radical yet ecstatic musings. Love Susie x 1)Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvellous, intoxicating. 2)Human existence is so fragile a thing and exposed to such dangers that I cannot love without trembling....
CRYING ALWAYS IN MY VOICE
Here is a song sent by an Iranian friend to my husband. A beautiful sad song by Iranian pop singer, Ebi.
AND THEY WILL FIND ME THERE
I love this extended, riddling monologue written around 350 BC and discovered among the Gnostic manuscripts in the upper eastern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. It sounds to me like a female goddess expounding her paradoxical assertions of virtue, that builds into a terrifying and beautiful vision of womanhood. Hypnotic, wild and completely marvellous.
MORE FROM GREAT MIMI PARKER
Here is another song from the brilliant band Low, sung by the great Mimi Parker, may God rest her soul. A beautiful cover of the Bee Gees classic, ‘I Started a Joke.’ We adored Mimi here at The Vampire’s Wife.
ALESSANDRO MICHELE — PURE BEAUTY
To our dear friend, Alessandro Michele who has done so much for our family. A man of boundless generosity, through gestures both personal and professional that far extended his position as a designer, helped heal our broken home. It is no exaggeration to say this. His beauty as a human being extends far beyond the genius of his artistry. We love you very much and wish great things for you in the future. Love Susie, Nick and Earl. x
AND THAT IS WHERE THE JOY CAME IN
I thought I would share this lovely poem by Christian Wiman, that seems to be about the divine poetry that inhabits the ordinary, perhaps, or the joy that glimmers, even in the darkest times, or the explosion of God in things, I don’t know, but this poem seems to be a joyful glimmering all of its own.
SONG OF DEVASTATION - NUMBER 27
A man called Samuel from Grand Rapids in USA wrote a very sad, broken-hearted letter to my husband on The Red Hand Files and mentioned in it that Colin Hay’s song I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You was playing ‘non-stop’ in his head. My husband asked me to post the song on the Stuff Page saying, ‘It’s a beautiful song. Everyone should hear it.’ Thank you. Samuel, for giving us this lovely gift and my husband and I wish you the very best. Hang in there.
THESE PEOPLE, UNAWARE, ARE SAVING THE WORLD
Here is a wonderful poem by Jorge Luis Borges called The Just about the unconscious rehabilitation of the world through small, ordinary sacred acts. A lovely thing, suggested by Debbie from Milan, Italy.
SOMETHING BIGGER THAN ME COMING
I’ve been reading Lucille Clifton again. Her Spartan, ascetic and thoroughly essential poems just blow me away. Absolutely wonderful. Renee Olson wrote that Clifton evoked ‘the struggle, beauty, and passion of one woman’s life with such clarity and power that her vision becomes representative, communal and unforgettable. Such a wonderful poet.
MOTHER, CLOSE THE DOOR
Here is the most gorgeous of songs by the most wonderful of bands, the mighty Low. The band’s statement was so moving. “Friends, it’s hard to put the universe into language and into a short message, but She passed away last night, surrounded by family and love, including yours. Keep her name close and sacred. Share this moment with someone who needs you. Love is indeed the most important thing.” RIP Mimi Parker. The most beautiful soul.
SONG OF DEVASTATION - NUMBER 26
A little recommendation for a Song of Devastation from Baba from London. This is indeed a dark, bleak and beautiful song. Thank you, Baba.
THEY HUNGER FOR YOUR BLOOD
On Halloween, I subjected my husband to a selection of erotic vampire films, the best of which was Daughters of Darkness starring Delphine Seyrig as the Countess Báthory. A ludicrously sumptuous piece of pop horror. ‘They hunger for your blood!’ Indeed!
Is this the greatest beginning to a pop song ever? Janis Joplin singing Cry baby? It must come very, very close. Shivery stuff!
BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE
Nana from London sent me and my husband this message. Hi Nick and Susie This is a brilliant piece of music from one of the best films made – ‘Three Colours: Blue’ by Kieslowski. The song is called ‘Song for the Unification by Europe’ by Preisner. There are two versions; I rate Julie’s more highly. I watched the film four times in a week because of the soundtrack. I recommend listening to the song lying together in the dark – I prefer the floor because it makes me feel more grounded. It is superb. Love Nana.
MY HEART’S IN THE HIGHLANDS
I keep returning to this extraordinary minimalist masterpiece written by Arvo Pärt and performed by the wonderful Else Torp and Christopher Bowers. Else sang with my husband on the song ‘Distant Sky’ from his Skeleton Tree album. Such a heartbreakingly gorgeous voice that turns the 18th century Scottish poem ‘My heart's in the Highlands’ by Robert Burns into a thing of haunted and majestic beauty. Just sublime.
TINA ON ANGEL MUSIC
Listening to UK’s greatest radio station Angel Music pretty much non-stop these days – playing music from the 1920s through to 1960s with a kind of radical defiance. The most joyful and melancholy radio station on earth! We adore it here at The Vampire’s Wife. Just listened to the great Tina Turner, singing River Deep, Mountain High! What a performance! What a song!
MASKS AND BERGAMASKS
Ah, Claire de Lune. I love this beautiful piece of music by Claude Debussy, sad and stirring. The title of the third movement of Suite bergamasque is taken from Verlaine's poem “Clair de lune”, which refers to bergamasks in the opening stanza. Such a beautiful thing.
A friend turned me on to Alma Thomas. She was a school teacher working in Washington DC, discovered later in life, who had dedicated herself to the celebration of the cosmos and the beauty of the astral world. I adore these wonderful, vibrant, joyful paintings.
WE ALL BLEED THE SAME WAY
I’ve been listening to the phenomenal Weyes Blood. her new song ‘It’s not just me, it’s everybody,’ is a typically stunning elegiac anthem that we have come to expect from her. It’s rich and complex and just so gorgeous. It's good to be back!
ALL THINGS MUST PASS
On holiday I sort of got stuck on George Harrison’s beautiful album All Things Must Pass. I love his relaxed, unselfconscious, casual way of presenting his songs, that are mostly deep and full of spiritual wisdom. This song gets me every time.
THE MOON AND STARS RAPIDLY ENTER YOU
Here is a typically twisty and weirdly beautiful poem from my husband’s favourite poet and all-round troublemaker, the great Frederick Seidel. Elegant and atrocious both, a wonder to behold!
TONIGHT THERE AIN’T NO HELP FOR ME
I’ve been listening to this absolutely wonderful song by the greatest songwriter on the planet, Jimmy Webb. I love the restless, jumbled tumbling of the words. Such a sad song – love and loss as a madness of empty, relentless activity. Jimmy Webb is the most beautiful of balladeers.
SONG OF DEVASTATION – NUMBER 25
I’m on the phone to my husband, He’s in Lithuania. We mention our Songs of Devastation. ‘I think it’s time for another one.’ That’s me. ‘All right. Have we done Billie Holiday?’ That’s him. ‘Yes. Gloomy Sunday,’ I say. ‘There’s another one, of course.’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Then, let’s put up ‘Strange Fruit.’ This song is as devastating a song as I’ve ever heard. The lyric is unbelievable. The song was written by Abel Meeropol, under the pseudonym, Lewis Allan – a Jewish American teacher, who was also a member of the American Communist Party and taught the author and racial justice advocate James Baldwin. Billie Holiday sings it with such force. It’s completely chilling.’ ‘Not for the faint-hearted.’ ‘No. Not for the faint-hearted at all.’
SIXTEEN DANDELIONS - GOOGOOSH
I’ve been listening to this strange, raw, broken song ‘Sixteen Dandelions’ by Iranian pop star Googoosh. Such an amazing and emotive voice and very beautiful song. Quite extraordinary.
WE ARE MIMETIC CREATURES
Sometimes I get asked how much I am influenced by others. This article by David Brooks was sent into my husband’s lovely Red Hand Files and I think it says a great deal in this regard. I have printed a couple of passages. So true.
JE TE VEUX
Here is a lovely song, ‘Je Te Veux’ sung by the French soprano Patricia Petibon, the music written by Erik Satie, a composer I love more than most. It dramatises the morning! Thank you, Rodrigo!
DAVID BOWIE AND AMANDA LEAR
I’m just watching this gorgeous outtake from David Bowie’s 1984 Floor Show. Two extraordinary, transcendent presences singing the McCoy’s hit, ‘Sorrow’.
LOVE WITHOUT WONDER
German actress and chanteuse, Ingrid Caven, married to the great Rainer Fassbinder, movie-maker extraordinaire, performs a bizarre, flamboyant version of ‘Liebe Ohne Wunder’. Something to see!
I AM NOT MY BODY. I AM A CHILD OF GOD
Here is a prayer from the American author, spiritual leader, and political activist, Marianne Williamson. She has a wonderful website Transform, where you can receive daily meditations. I love her compassionate activism and the broad reach of her spiritual teachings. She is something of a miracle.
LET ME UNFOLD YOU
Grant from Adelaide, Australia sent in this beautiful piece of video of Tim Buckley singing ‘Song of the Siren’. I know I must have this song on The Stuff Page before, it is such a superb piece of song writing, but I have never seen this wonderful, self-effacing version. Just beautiful. Thank you, Grant.
A THOUSAND GIRLS WITH GOLDEN HAIR
A very beautiful poem today from the often brilliant public service, ‘Poem-a-day’, by Edwin Arlington Robinson about the mysterious and ever-changing nature of the world. I love the metaphor of the thousand girls with golden hair that ‘rise’ and ‘go away.’ Very powerful.
THE GREAT JONI MITCHELL
I saw this last piece of footage last night, taken at the Newport Festival, and like most of the world, I guess, just wept. What a great, brave, beautiful woman Joni Mitchell is. In my view the greatest songwriter of her generation, bar none. I adore everything about this.
HIS TRUTH IS MARCHING ON
While I was at work, my husband snuck off to the cinema to see Elvis, and I couldn’t quite get it out of him whether he liked it or not but later I found him sitting and listening to An American Trilogy – the ‘Aloha from Hawaii’ version from 1973 – with tears in his eyes.
DIDN’T IT RAIN, CHILDREN?
I’m sitting listening to the great Sister Rosetta Tharpe, playing ‘Didn’t It Rain?’ The inspiration behind Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley, the great Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Godmother of rock ‘n’ roll, did it first. God bless her!
CHANT OF COMPASSION
I found this bit of footage from Plum Village that I know nothing about, other than it is a ‘Compassion Chant’ and is really exquisitely beautiful. It says – In memory of our beloved teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh we are releasing our best recording of the Namo’valokiteshvaraya chant of compassion, which was recorded in the Still Water Meditation Hall, Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France, in Autumn 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZkjX_c4hm4
DIDN’T YOU THINK YOU WERE WORTH ANYTHING?
Listening to DJ Lonny’s amazing show Americana Deep Dive on Lewes Radio, that is full of esoteric wonders from the American canon, and swooning to the version of the Lucinda Williams song, ‘Sweet Old World’ by Emmylou Harris, which really is one of the great lyrics of all time. What a voice! What a deep song of wonder and instruction, that exists on a whole other level. Here is a rare piece of footage of Emmylou singing this wonderful song with Neil Young.
UNDERNEATH YOUR WEATHER – LISA HANNIGAN
My husband sent me a letter from his Australian friend, Rebecca, who recommended this gorgeous song called Undertow by the Irish singer, Lisa Hannigan. Rebecca wrote— I love you for letting me talk to you So, this is how I feel Lisa Hannigan – Undertow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwaBoX97PbQ&list=RDMM&start_radio=1&rv=eDkUxcd0L9Q I want to float on every word you say… Thank you, Rebecca for sending this beautiful song and much love to you, Susie x Undertow I want to swim in your current Carry me out, up and away I want to float On every word you say Want to be underneath...
SONG OF DEVASTATION NUMBER 24
Thank you, Susie for the ‘Stuff’ Page. Sometimes I think I find the sharing of it all just as important as the content, particularly in these nerve-wracking, divisive times. Please can you post Kate Bush’s song ‘Under the Ivy’ as a Song of Devastation? I think it really is… devastating. So, thanks and take care, Kirsty x https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEXjabIgDIg Dear Kirsty, Thank you for this. You are right. What a beautiful and devastating song. I don’t know how I don’t know this song. It is a small, sad miracle that somehow passed me by. What a gorgeous lyric. Love...
THE WATERFALL FAIRY
Whenever, I need a little inspirational bump, I often go to my favourite children’s illustrators, many who were Australian. I love Norman Lindsay’s Magic Pudding and May Gibbs’, Gumnut Babies and Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall. But mostly I have been looking at the weird and wonderful drawings of Ida Sherbourne Outhwaite. (1888 – 1960), especially the Waterfall Fairy, a gorgeous depiction of the sorrowing nature of women!
Just sitting and listening to a heartbroken tune from the Cowboy Junkie’s called Bea’s Song and wondering if this might be a Song of Devastation and I’m thinking I should ring my husband and see what he thinks about it, but its late and he’s in Zagreb playing his own Songs of Devastation, and I’ve listened to it five times in a row and get to the line that says, ‘John’s at my side, but he’s on firmer ground’ and pretty much lose it. Just the best of songs, and wonderful to have this thing of beauty spinning through the world.
My dear friend, the ferociously talented, and luminously beautiful Florence Welch weaves her magic in a Vampire’s Wife nude sparkle tulle dress and cape, created especially for her. Good luck and much love on your tour, Flo! We adore you here at the Vampire’s Wife. Love, Susie. x
THE CHATS PLAY SMOKO
Someone called Nady from Brisbane sent this recommendation into The Red Hand Files. My husband asked me to post it, saying he loved it. Not exactly a Song of Devastation, but pretty close to it, and so fiendishly charming. You are right, Nady. A classic! I listened to everything of theirs I could find. All so wonderful. Love, Susie. x
MEMORY IS A SEAMSTRESS
I’m listening to the wonderful music of Max Richter from the album Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works, released in January 2017. The music is taken from the score Richter composed for the ballet Woolf Works which follows a three-part structure offering evocations of three books by Virginia Woolf. The album features classical and electronic sound as well as an original voice recording of Woolf herself. It is an extraordinary beautiful and stirring work. The photograph of Virginia Woolf attached is by my favourite photographer of all time Julia Margaret Cameron.
SONG OF HOPE
Yesterday, my husband received this poem in his Red Hand Files from Ellen in Gisborne, New Zealand. It is written by the Malaysian poet, Cecil Rajendra. He asked me to post it on the Stuff Page. I asked him why he liked it and he said he like the blackness of it – the panther and the obsidian hopes of children – and the image of the morning sun rising on the poem itself. Thank you, Ellen. We adore these gifts.
THE DOLLY SUITES
I’ve been listening to Fauré’s lovely Dolly Suites performed by Katia and Marielle Labèque. The Dolly Suite, Op. 56, is a collection of piano pieces for four-hands by Gabriel Fauré. It consists of short pieces written or revised between 1893 and 1896, to mark the birthdays and other events in the life of the daughter of the composer's mistress, who went by the name of Dolly. Very beautiful indeed.
WHEN NIGHT IS ALMOST DONE
Time for some Emily Dickinson to remind us of that greater project, Life! – to ‘smooth the hair and get the dimples ready’ and step into the day. A poem, both small and vast, as only Emily can do.
NIGHT, SLEEP, DEATH & THE STARS
Here is a little Walt Whitman poem that my friend Rodrigo sent me. Thank you, Rodrigo, for helping out around the Stuff Pages, and keeping the whole thing moving along. You’re a lifesaver! We adore you here at the Vampire’s Wife.
Sitting and listening to all the versions of this beautiful piece of music by Astor Piazzolla called Oblivion. Here is one with fourteen cellos. Absolutely masterful and the purest magic, just sublime. A true soul saver.
POOR LADY, POOR LADY
Rodrigo (again!) sent me this beautiful poem by the great Louise Glück, winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature. I love to receive these gorgeous golden mice to my doorstep.
LET’S DISCUSS THIS AT THE HOSPITAL
My ferociously talented and radiantly beautiful friend, Florence, blows us all away with her new song, ‘Free’! Filmed in Kyiv and dedicated to the Ukrainians, it is a wonderful and spirited song.
TOUCHED BY COLD MOON LIGHT
I’m still reading these Chinese poems! This one is full of lovely sensual inner echoes, a wonderful poem about growing old.
HER GOLD HAIRPIN HAS FALLEN OUT
I’m sitting here reading some erotic Chinese poems with the new Sunday sun shining through my window.
MEDITATION ON ERIK SATIE
I received another letter from the ever-resourceful Rodrigo with a beautiful threnody we should all take a moment to listen to.
The brilliant Jenna Coleman wears The Vampire’s Wife Floral Bell Ringer Suit.
CRUEL TO ME IN EVERYTHING!
I spent some time this Easter weekend reading the mournful letters of Eloise to her forbidden beloved, Abelard.
AND ONLY THROUGH LOVE
My husband received this remarkable Aztec ‘blessing’ from Evy who lives in Ghent, Belgium.
YOU BURN ME – KRISTEN McMENAMY
A bit of Sappho for the great Kristen McMenamy who wears the legendary Vampire’s Wife Smoking Cat T Shirt.
AND THE HEART IN ITS TEARS
Our dear friend, Rodrigo, sent this startling quote from a letter written by Gustave Flaubert to his beloved Louise Colet.
AS WE ARE NO LONGER
Here is a quote from Joan Didion’s bracing and courageous book on grief, ‘The Year of Magical Thinking.’
IT IS GOOD TO BE ALIVE
Spring is here! We welcome it with all the love in our hearts with a beautiful buoyant poem from Angelina Weld Grimké.
APRIL SHE WILL COME
Here is song for the coming of spring from the wonderful Simon and Garfunkel—an ache of a song with a beautifully rendered lyric, full of longing.
THE MORNING IS A TRAIN
Greta Bellamacina is wearing The Silver Bespoke Lamé Bombette Dress, and well, quite frankly, we love her for it.
NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD
My husband sent me this extraordinary performance of Thomas Whitfield and choir performing ‘Nothing But The Blood’ led by Lateria Wooton.
PIERCING AS THE FLUTE
You may have noticed a dark haunted presence beneath The Bad Seeds majestic song ‘Galleon Ship’ from the Ghosteen album.
MY VIOLIN HAS BEEN BROKEN
My husband sent me this absolutely beautiful folk song that was sent to his Red Hand Files by Endre from Budapest.
Actress and ace electric guitarist, Devon Ross seen at the Yves Saint Laurent Show in Paris with some exceptionally gorgeous guy.
GREETINGS FROM TRYON, NORTH CAROLINA
My husband has fled the UK and has been spending his time in Asheville, North Carolina, rehearsing with Warren and Luiz and Wendi and Janet and TJae.
UKRANIAN FOLK SONG
Here is a beautiful song, with love and power to the brave people of Ukraine.
SONG OF THE SOUL
Here is a beautiful creation from Lavinia of Spain, sent to my husband’s Red Hand Files.
I, LUCILLE CLIFTON HEREBY TESTIFY
I love this poem by the wonderful poet, Lucille Clifton. She is an absolutely stunning writer—a new poet to our house.
HAFIZ – SEER AND TRICKSTER
I was reading this morning that most brilliant Persian poet and seer, Hafiz, calling from the 14th Century.
SONG OF DEVASTATION No. 24
A letter arrived at my husband’s Red Hand Files from Kimberly in Australia.
A BREATHLESS CAT POWER
Just sitting here and listening to this very beautiful version of my husband’s song, Breathless, and it occurs to me that, in general, women do the best versions of Nick’s songs.
DIANA SILVERS WEARS THE FALCONETTI
Actor Diana Silvers looks gorgeous in The Vampire’s Wife Velvet Falconetti Dress.
MINA LOY – BLOOD ON ITS WINGS
I spent a rainy morning during the holidays reading British-born poet, Mina Loy.
I spent some time with the great Italian Renaissance poet, Gaspara Stampa over the holiday period, whose life was cut tragically short by illness.
SONG OF DEVASTATION No. 23
Someone called Joe from Tacoma, WA in the USA sent this letter to my husband’s famously world rehabilitating and most wonderful website The Red Hand Files.
HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS
Have a very Merry Christmas everyone and a blessed Christmas holiday.
LICORICE PIZZA IS PURE JOY
I had the complete priviage of seeing a preview of P T Anderson’s Licorice Pizza on the weekend and it is the warmest, funniest, most joyful film I have watched in a long time.
AND NO MORE SHALL WE PART
The Flaming Lips have released an entire album of my husband’s songs called ‘Where the Viaduct Looms’ and this record has swept me away.
THE ENDLESS UNFOLDING OF LIFE
I just spent sometime reading the sad but inspiring story of the death of Charles Darwin’s 10-year-old daughter, Annie.
THE MARGINALIAN - PAEAN TO LOVE AND WONDER
There is nothing online nearly as fortifying, generous, and acutely smart as Maria Povopa’s gargantuan paean to love and wonder, The Marginalian.
THE SINGULAR VALI MYERS
I’ve been sitting here flicking through old art books and catalogues and looking for inspiration.
MYSTERIOUS MERMAID CHANT
I literally know nothing about this strange piece of music except that it was sent to me by a mysterious person.
NELL SMITH – POWERFUL VULNERBILITY
My husband just showed me this beautiful version of The Ship Song by Nell Smith and Flaming lips.
FREEDOM’S JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE
I just stumbled on this clip of the brilliant Kris Kristofferson singing a live and unadorned version of one of my all time favourite songs.
I’ve been looking at the strange, eclectic creations of Sophie Taeuber-Arp this morning.
AIMEE LOU WOOD
The wonderful British actress Aimee Lou Wood wears The Vampire’s Wife.
GHOST GIRL RIDER
Here is a spooky old poem by the great Thomas Hardy sent to me from an elf at the bottom of the world.
Here is a letter that was sent to my husband’s Red Hand Files by someone called Amanda from Mexico.
Just to let you all know that The Vampire’s Wife has produced the most beautiful scented candle.
EACH TO HIS GRIEF
Just sitting here, reading Gwendolyn Brooks, yet again. Boy Breaking Glass is such a mighty poem.
AND THE PLOT THICKENS
The Johnstone sisters, my favourite children’s book illustrator’s and a major influence here at The Vampire’s Wife
SONG OF DEVASTATION No. 22
My husband forwarded me a beautiful letter from Jennifer from Vancouver with a suggestion for a Song of Devastation.
WHEN THE SWEET HUNTER SHOT ME
I came across this poem by Saint Teresa of Avila, which was the inspiration for Bernini’s The Ecstasy of St Teresa.
HONOR SWINTON BYRNE WEARS THE VAMPIRE’S WIFE
Actress Honor Swinton Byrne wears The Vampire’s Wife Fortune Teller Gown while attending the London Film Festival. Thank you Honor! We love you here at the Vampire’s Wife. Love, Susie x
FORCE, BEAUTY, SADNESS, HUMOUR, LIFE
A beautiful and happy letter from Sabina from Berlin, sent to me here at The Vampires Wife.
I HAVE WANDERED ALL MY UNENDING DAYS
I found this lovely little poem, written by my husband, on a scrap of paper around the house.
DREAMS ARE MY REALITY
Here is a soppy little pop song by Richard Sanderson sent by Klara to my husband’s wonderful Red Hand Files.
MY SISTER, MY LITTLE CRICKET
Just read these small but beautiful poems by New Zealand poet, Jenny Bornholdt.
The great Andie MacDowell wears The Vampire’s Wife Pink Lamé Penitent Pants Suit on Graham Norton this week.
GIG OF THE CENTURY
Okay, I may be a little biased but was I watching something completely transcendent.
THE SPARE BEDROOM
This is such a gentle and measured description of a photograph of a bedroom full of meaning.
Just sitting here reading a beautiful haiku.
ONLY YOUR EXQUISITE EYES
I love the painter, Susan Valadon’s portrait of her lover, the composer, Eric Satie, in all its furious and demented colour. An unconventional lover, to say the least.
Listen to this beautiful version of my husband’s lovely song ‘Star Charmer’. Such a tender version of my favourite Grinderman song. The musician is named Oliver Richards.
VISITING THE SURFACE OF THE WORLD
My friend, Deborah, who literally lives at the bottom of the world, kindly sent me this beautiful drawing.
FOR GOD LIKES GIRLS
Today this is my favourite poem and E. E. Cummings my favourite poet.
Sylvie Guillem is a force of nature, a fierce and exquisite miracle. I’ve watched this over and over again.
BIG CAT PETE DAVIDSON
Pete Davidson wears The Vampire’s Wife Big Cat T-Shirt on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon this week.
MARY MARGARET O’HARA
I’ve been wandering around the house this weekend wondering what to do with myself, and missing my husband, and listening to the truly great Mary Margaret O’Hara.
GIRL IN AMBER – NELL SMITH
Listen to this gorgeous cover version of The Bad Seeds song, Girl In Amber, by the wonderful Flaming Lips in collaboration with a thirteen-year-old fan, Nell Smith.
THE GREAT WENDY CARLOS
Sitting in a hotel bed, listening to ‘The Shining’ movie soundtrack by the great hero-innovator of electronic music Wendy Carlos.
WARNING. LISTEN AT OWN RISK. No. 21
Thank you, Izzy, for this lovely letter and, indeed, a beautiful and heart-wrenching version ‘Song Of Devastation.’ I never thought anyone could touch the original version of ‘To Love Somebody’ by The Bee Gees.
THE WEIGHT OF GOD
Louis from Germany sent this very sweet letter to my husband’s glorious Red Hand Files.
Big in the Cave household, the world’s most catchy song from the Australian pop/folk band The Seekers. ‘Georgy Girl’.
Actress and entrepreneur, Lily Cole looks beautiful in the Gold Lame American Chevron.
STAR, O STAR
A lovely letter from Rodrigo—our Brazilian friend and beauty excavator—sends a gorgeous ballad from Brazilian singer and composer, Victor Ramil.
IS THIS WHAT LOVE LOOKS LIKE?
Thank you, Nanni from Los Angeles for sending this beautiful and haunting song to my husband’s The Red Hand Files.
REASONS TO LOVE SALMA HAYEK No 633
The brilliant and beautiful Salma Hayek wears The Vampire’s Wife.
Can’t get enough of this piece of American psychedelia from the great Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane.
IN PRAISE OF PAULA REGO
This morning, I’ve been looking at the amazing paintings and drawings of Paula Rego.
WARNING. LISTEN AT OWN RISK. No. 20
‘Hey, babe, a girl called Kate from Newcastle in Australia sent this letter to The Red Hand Files.’