Northern Journey Online

Buffy Sainte-Marie

(Traditional; Contemporary; First Nations; Singer-Songwriter)

Saskatchewan-born Buffy Sainte-Marie was inducted into the Juno Awards Hall of Fame in 1995 for her lifetime achievement in the field of music. A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, Sainte-Marie's career took flight in the 1960's when her uncanny songwriting talents and striking voice brought her to the forefront of the 60's folk revival. Sainte-Marie may be Canada's most diverse songwriter--her material ranges effortlessly from protest songs to love songs to country, pop, and rock. It's My Way, from 1964, is a treasury of early Sainte-Marie material including "Now That the Buffalo's Gone," "Cod'ine," "The Universal Soldier," "It's My Way," "He Lived Alone in Town," "The Incest Song," and "Eyes of Amber." On "Cripple Creek" Sainte-Marie sings to the accompaniment of mouth bow. Little Wheel Spin and Spin, from 1966, contains "My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying," "Poor Man's Daughter," the countryish "Sometimes When I Get to Thinkin'," and the title track, "Little Wheel Spin And Spin."

By the close of the 60's every folk act was making a Nashville album, and Sainte-Marie was no exception. She has a knack for writing country/folk and for many fans the 1968 recording, I'm Gonna Be A Country Girl Again, is simply her best. Highlights include "He's A Pretty Good Man If You Ask Me," "A Soulful Shade of Blue," "The Piney Wood Hills," "Tall Trees in Georgia," "Take My Hand for Awhile," and "Gonna Feel Much Better When You're Gone." Illuminations is as different from Country Girl as it is from It's My Way. This haunting, often beautiful, album was Sainte-Marie's first experiment with electronics, combining acoustic guitar and voice with synthesized sound. Her arrangement of Leonard Cohen's poem "God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot" is one of the album's highlights.

The Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie was originally issued as a Vanguard "Twofer"--two vinyl LP's in one package. The problem with this CD is that while Sainte-Marie's wide-ranging songwriting sounds right on her individual albums where the tracks are carefully sequenced, the Best Of collection turns them into a hodgepodge. The individual albums are more satisfying, but this collection is the only place you'll find CD copies of songs like "Many a Mile," "Los Pescadores," and Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game." She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina is one of Sainte-Marie's least successful albums--a move into pop music that doesn't ring true. Moonshot, on the other hand, succeeds moderately well as a pop album. Backed by a congenial band, Sainte-Marie introduces a new sound and includes some new material written for the occasion: "He's an Indian Cowboy in the Rodeo," "Moonshot," and "Native North American Child." In 1992 Sainte-Marie stunned the music industry by releasing her first album after a hiatus of over fifteen years. Coincidences and Likely Stories is an album for the 90's with 60's-like sentiments. Sainte-Marie has lost none of her songwriting magic--the album ranks among her best.

Sainte-Marie has been touring again in recent years and, given that many of her early recordings are either out of print or difficult to obtain, Sainte-Marie has re-recorded many of them on the album Up Where We Belong (1996). For those who do not have access to the originals, this is an excellent purchase. It includes both new and old material and the production values of the CD are very high. Sainte-Marie is still in good voice, although those who remember her from the 60's may prefer the more youthful, energetic voice on the original Vanguard recordings.


It's My Way *
1964 Vanguard (VMD 79142)
Now That the Buffalo's Gone; The Old Man's Lament; Ananias; Mayoo Sto Hoon; Cod'ine; Cripple Creek; The Universal Soldier; Babe in Arms; He Lived Alone in Town; You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond; The Incest Song; Eyes of Amber; It's My Way 40:35

Little Wheel Spin and Spin
1966 Vanguard (VMD 79211)
Little Wheel Spin and Spin; House Carpenter; Waly, Waly; Rolling Log Blues; My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying; Men of the Fields; Timeless Love; Sir Patrick Spens; Poor Man's Daughter; Lady Margaret; Sometimes When I Get to Thinkin'; Winter Boy 40:55

I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again *
1968 Vanguard (79280-2)
I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again; He's a Pretty Good Man If You Ask Me; Uncle Joe; A Soulful Shade of Blue; From the Bottom of My Heart; Sometimes When I Get to Thinkin'; The Piney Wood Hills; Now That the Buffalo's Gone; They Gotta Quit Kickin' My Dawg Around; Tall Trees in Georgia; The Love of a Good Man; Take My Hand for a While; Gonna Feel Much Better When You're Gone 34:02

The Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie
1987, 1970 Vanguard (VCD-3/4)
A Soulful Shade of Blue; Summer Boy; The Universal Soldier; Better to Find Out for Yourself; Cod'ine; He's a Keeper of the Fire; Take My Hand for a While; Ground Hog; The Circle Game; My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying; Many a Mile; Until It's Time for You to Go; Rolling Log Blues; God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot; Guess Who I Saw in Paris; The Piney Wood Hills; Now That the Buffalo's Gone; Cripple Creek; I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again; The Vampire; Little Wheel Spin and Spin; Winter Boy; Los Pescadores; Sometimes When I Get to Thinkin' 71:04

Illuminations
1970, reissued 1992 Vanguard [FNAC---France] (WM 321/662115)
God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot; Mary; Better Find Out for Yourself; The Vampire; Adam; The Dream Tree; Suffer the Little Children; The Angel; With You, Honey; Guess Who I Saw in Paris; He's a Keeper of the Fire; Poppies 35:57

She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina
1971 Vanguard (VMD 79311)
Rollin' Mill Man; Smack Water Jack; Sweet September Morning; She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina; Bells; Helpless; Moratorium; The Surfer; Song of the French Partisan; Soldier Blue; Now You've Been Gone for a Long Time 35:00

Moonshot
1972 Vanguard (WM 321/662140)
Not the Lovin' Kind; You Know How to Turn on Those Lights; I Wanna Hold Your Hand Forever; He's an Indian Cowboy in the Rodeo; Lay It Down; Moonshot; Native North American Child; My Baby Left Me; Sweet Memories; Jeremiah; Mister Can't You See 32:12

Coincidence and Likely Stories *
1992 Chrysalis/Ensign (F2 21920)
The Big Ones Get Away; Fallen Angels; Bad End; Emma Lee; Starwalker; The Priests of the Golden Bull; Disinformation; Getting Started; I'm Going Home; Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee; Goodnight 43:23

Up Where We Belong
1996 EMI (0 7243 835059 2 0)
Darling Don't Cry; Up Where We Belong; Piney Wood Hills; Cripple Creek; God is Alive/Magic is Afoot; Until It's Time for You to Go; Universal Soldier; Goodnight; Dance Me Around; He's An Indian Cowboy in the Rodeo; Now That the Buffalo's Gone; Soldier Blue; Eagle Man/Changing Woman; Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee; Starwalker 52:10

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Copyright © 1999, Gene Wilburn,