Monday, October 26, 2015


I was introduced to Karla Bonoff by my good high school friend Chuck E (not the guy from the Rickie Lee Jones song), and I loved the album. I never picked it up on CD, and the record sat with the rest of my vinyl collection through the 80's and 90's, forgotten. 

Ten years or so ago, I was sorting through my vinyl and came across the record. Realizing how long it had been since I heard it, I played the record. Wow, is it ever as good as I remembered!

I went out and found Karla's entire catalog on CD. Well, not all on the same day, but I got 'em!

A couple of weeks ago, her debut was featured in a post of The Lefsetz Letter, which inspired me to pull the album off the shelf.

Still a keeper!

I hope Mr. Lefsetz does not mind me quoting from his post.... the yellow italics are his words, not mine, but really capture just how special a songwriter and performer Karla Bonoff is.

From The Lefsetz Letter, 10/9/2015

Linda Ronstadt was America's sweetheart, the coolest rock chick who owned the airwaves, she released her third smash in a row, "Hasten Down The Wind" and the killer track, which finished the LP, was "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me." 

The voice we all knew and loved singing a song by someone we were completely unfamiliar with, one Karla Bonoff.

"Still you know that may be what I need
Is someone to lay down beside me
And even though it's not real
Just someone to lay down beside me
You're the story of my life"

A beautiful song sung by someone who seemed to own the world, the darkness was absent.

But when Karla sang the same song with the same arrangement...WHEW!

"Well morning is breaking, 
the street lights are off
The sun will soon share all the cost
Of a world that can be sort of heartless
Not like love that you feel in your heart"

Sung by an unknown, someone just like us, the words seemed so much more...BELIEVABLE! This was someone who was yearning for connection in a world that so rarely provides it, back before, never mind Tinder. When loneliness killed.

You heard Karla sing and you thought about yourself. And how the world really was kind of heartless, that's the key word in the song, the one you remember.

I had the fortune of seeing Karla Bonoff last year. The friend I attended with, while claiming to be a New Yorker, is essentially an Arizona native (she was ten when she moved here) and suffers from that malady common to Arizonans, the blind worship of all things Arizonan.

So to her, Linda Ronstadt is a saint, and we had a spirited debate when I said I always liked Bonoff's originals to the Ronstadt covers.

To me, Ronstadt had a decent voice, but since she didn't write anything, she was less compelling. I mean, covering Elvis Costello's Alison? Really? 

From The Lefsetz Letter, 10/9/2015

"Oh baby, this time it's good-bye
And you can be sure that I won't cry
Our love is just a faded story
I'm walking down the road
And you've just got to let me go"

"I Can't Hold On" is upbeat as opposed to the dirgy "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me." It evidences the freedom of one who's thought about it a long time and has broken away and is now reveling in the power of her aloneness.

"'Cause I can't hold on
I can't hold on
I can't hold on anymore"

These are not the words of a fly-by-nighter. She tried, she's not the one who jumps from relationship to relationship, but she's finally reached her limit, she's done.

"And maybe next time you'll cry
When someone like me says good-bye
You'll wake up when she's gone and wonder
How you could let her go
But look at me, I'm going under..."

Come on, if you haven't said this to yourself, maybe even made the mistake of saying it to your ex, you're a leaver, not one of the left. You've given your all and it's still not enough. You want to scream and shout, but they're still playing games...

It's all here. This is the best post breakup song I know, I've sung it to myself many a time.

From The Lefsetz Letter, 10/9/2015

So different from today's music, where the singers are winners and kick their significant others to the curb. You can tell Karla Bonoff's been hurt, she's been on the losing end of love, but now she's resigned to the loss, she's gonna let him go.

"I'm not telling any lies now
I need you
You know how
I think I can see how to let you grow
I've got to let you go"

This is the last thing you want to do!

"Though that's my face in the mirror
It's sometimes you that I see
'Cause we've been here for so long now
I see your soul in me"

You've merged. You've even started to look alike. The person closest to you, who knows all your secrets, is no longer there, and will ultimately be with someone else. It's soul-crushing.

The rest is in the Vault for those with the key...


  1. Seeing the title of your blog post I just had to come see what was going on. I was expecting something else I guess.

    You know, I've never really listened to any Karla Bonoff before. Can't say why--maybe it's just the female singer thing. I really like the clips you've offered here. I guess Karla is an artist that I should reconsider.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. Ronstadt got all the press, and she never wrote any of her own songs. I liked her voice OK, but do not think it is any better than Bonoff's, and Bonoff is a great write!

      Worth a look....

  2. You should consider using this for a Battle of the Bands.

    Just sayin'.

    1. I thought I'd put that suggestion in this post for one of you BOTB regulars...must have edited myself.