I remember with utter clarity the moment Sophie first performed "Something Old, Something New" for me. She had just finished it, Mama Louise was consulting on the newest additions, and we were at Bamff in the Morning Room. Everything was cast in a kind of golden/pink light. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. It came to symbolize something. Something old and something new-- and all the "splendid times that would probably ensue." (And they did!) I beamed, still stunned and still wondering how I had fallen into this surreal crevice of people who seemed to be just embracing me all the time. And I remember thinking that I needed to pay attention to this moment because Sophie's album was going to be something so special. So unlike anything in contemporary song writing.
Looking at the landscape of music during my lifetime, I have a hard time naming many, if any, lyricists who leave their guts on the table the way Sophie does. F. Scott Fitzgerald said that price you pay for doing first rate professional work is that you've got to "sell your heart." Sophie does that and somehow manages to keep it too. She is unflinching from the grief she's experienced. And even though I missed that darkest chapter in her life, when Fred was quickly and unexpectedly taken from her, I can't help but know -- because she has succeeded in conveying to me through song and soul-- the strange dark place she journeyed through.
In "Something Old, Something New," the vivid New York she experienced in the aftermath of Fred's death is perfectly etched, and we see the city as a perfect conduit to move her into the alternate version of her life without Fred. And the friends who would help her. The upside down bridal imagery is arresting. It breaks and eventually raises my heart to think of her re-imagining her wedding and her future.
"Song I Never Wrote For You," was the first original song off the album I heard. And also, the last song I heard Sophie play live on my last day in Scotland. She was just wrapping up recording the album. I heard some not-quite mixed tracks. And on Dublin street, as I went through clothes to give away, her simple, pure piano version echoed down the hall to me as she played. I thought about Fred and I thought about Sophie and how I would miss this part of my life so dreadfully. No part of my American life is as simple, or bare, or uncomplicated, or earnest as any moment I spent with Sophie. Except for when I listen to her album from my house in Hollywood.
Sophie Ramsay is a blessing to this or any life. Add her to yours.