1979 was a fantastic year for music. Punk had mostly swept away the shards of yacht rock and insufferably upbeat neo-Vegas acts like Tony Orlando and Dawn and The Captain and Tennille, New Wave was in full swing, and a whole new generation of songwriters was ready with sharpened pencils.
Some of the pencils were exceedingly sharp. I'd have a difficult time naming a favorite album from that year, but this one, by the three Roche sisters, is certainly in the running. Maggie, who is in the middle of the album cover photo, had the sharpest pencil. Ostensibly she wrote folk ditties, but these tunes had a bite, and those sweet harmonies belied a world of dysfunction and sadness and a quest for human connection, a quest that was often unfulfilled.
Listen to her masterpiece, an extended dialogue between parents and daughter, where the details are both elliptical and oh, so specific.
I went down to Hammond
I did as I pleased
I ain't the only one
Who's got this disease
The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary didn't write 'em like that. Maggie Roche did.