Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singer, Songwriter, Indigenous Activist and more
May 22, 2023 9:36 PM   Subscribe

Where to Start with Buffy Sainte Marie (And Why You Should) by Andrea Warner "Buffy Sainte-Marie is a living legend and a musical genius. But she’s also “Buffy who?” to a lot of people who have never heard of her before."

Watch this excellent documentary about Buffy Sainte Marie, Carry It On

On my end, it says "expires in 9 days" ... it's been up since November 2022. Watch while you can. Hopefully, it's accessible to all despite region. It's a U.S. PBS "American Masters" special.
posted by AnyUsernameWillDo (18 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Her version of Fixin' to Die pretty much saved my life back in the day or, to put it less dramatically, it allowed me daily a release of feelings I did not know how to manage. What's that album called? Many a Mile? Fantastic album.
posted by dutchrick at 1:56 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

I'm going to have to find the time to watch this.
I saw her on TV in the 60's, and was fascinated by the mouth-bow.
I guess I thought "Universal Soldier" was written by Donovan, and was totally surprised by "Up Where We Belong".
posted by MtDewd at 3:19 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

She was on Sesame Street!
posted by pxe2000 at 3:44 AM on May 23 [7 favorites]

I became aware of Buffy Sainte-Marie when Mudhoney side project The Monkeywrench covered 'Codine,' because the 1990s.

But my favorite Buffy Sainte-Marie is Illuminations, an absolutely wonderful, incredibly underrated, and extremely ahead-of-its-time album.
posted by box at 5:23 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Came here to say that her “Cripple Creek” duet on Sesame Street is CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC.
posted by Melismata at 6:21 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

She has her own stamp.
posted by yyz at 6:22 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

She's amazing. I saw her in concert in I think 2017? and it was a complete delight.

She's been a lot of the soundtrack of my life including, yes, Sesame Street. Her story of being asked to go down to be a guest on the show is a lesson in representation. I remember my mum and I watching the episode where she breast fed (I had a newish baby sister and that was the only other time I saw a woman breast feed.)
posted by warriorqueen at 6:55 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]

There was a good CBC radio podcast about her that's worth a listen - Buffy. She's a very engaging speaker and her stories are very fascinating.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:26 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Came to her through her cover of "Helpless" which like every good cover she takes and makes her own in the most delightful way. Her voice and delivery are stunning, definitely worth a listen if you're getting to know her.
posted by rene_billingsworth at 8:48 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]

Thinking back, trying to remember, how do I know Buffy Sainte-Marie? I didn't know she wrote those other songs, and 1970 was too early for her on Sesame Street (which was unavoidable in our house, at the time). Somehow I've been mixing her up with Melanie (and her song Lay Down) but that's a mistake. It must've been hearing her recording of The Circle Game on the radio -- I knew the name Joni Mitchell by then, but I didn't really understand who she was until later that year when I caught her last performance on The Johnny Cash Show.

But he had Buffy on, as well, the year before -- and here they are.
posted by Rash at 8:58 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

I've been a low-key fan for decades. My punk band in the '90s covered "Mongrel Pup."
posted by joannemerriam at 9:05 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

I was taken back to my childhood, realizing I indeed saw her on Sesame Street, but I forgot about it until I watched the documentary. I'm so grateful for Sesame Street. Seeing Maria too, took me back!! In the documentary, Buffy said no one complained about her breastfeeding Cody back then. It wasn't until clips of it were posted online that some complaints came in. Seems we have gone backwards on that.

The fact that radio stations were asked to suppress her music is a huge reason why she wasn't really mainstream.

I also had no idea about her Oscar for "Up Where We Belong!"

And depending on what "timeline" you read about her life, it's sort of swept under the rug that she was kidnapped from her biological family during the "Sixties Scoop" and then adopted. Later she connected back to her Cree relatives.
posted by AnyUsernameWillDo at 11:28 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

It must've been hearing her recording of "The Circle Game"

No, it wasn't there -- after pondering a bit, of course

But my favorite Buffy Sainte-Marie is Illuminations

Yeah, late-night progressive underground radio, that's where I first heard this name: God is alive, Magic is afoot! Off now to explore the whole album.
posted by Rash at 12:19 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

my in-laws got my kiddo a copy of the picture book of "Still this Love Goes On" and it's entered the regular rotation of songs in the house
posted by dismas at 1:34 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine was her touring bass player for part of the 1970s. A few years ago we were in Chile, and over dinner he told me a terrifying story of the time he and Sainte-Marie played a show there, following which the entire band were accosted at the hotel the next day prior to leaving the country. It seems they weren't permitted to depart until they had played a command performance for Pinochet in an enormous marble room surrounded by sweating, coked-up soldiers holding machine guns.

He's a very laid-back guy, and he told the story with a certain level of bewildered detachment, but at the time it had him pretty riled up. I think this was his first time back in Chile since that happened.

He had nothing but effusive praise for Sainte-Marie as a performer and an artist.
posted by jordantwodelta at 1:48 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

wow jordantwodelta, what a story!
i grew up with her music - my parents were fans, and yeah Sesame Street!
but i think i learned of "The Bells" - a version of Leonard Cohen's "Take This Longing From My Heart" - here on the blue? that led me to delving into and rediscovering her music.
(and i too used to get her confused with Melanie, another artist in my folks record collection.)
this is a cool post, and i am gonna watch that documentary. thanks, AnyUserNameWillDo!
posted by lapolla at 5:07 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

So glad, lapolla. It was very sweet to hear Buffy talk about how she came to be on Sesame Street and to see clips ... thinking to myself, Wait! I do remember seeing her on Sesame Street and feeling really good feelings around that reminiscence!
posted by AnyUsernameWillDo at 7:39 PM on May 23

33 rpm
Stack of albums on the turntable.
The last album side plays.
Pick up all the albums and flip them onto the spindle.
The album drops...
The needle drops... HISS ... buzz

Can you remember the times
That you have held your head high?

I listened to BSM and the Clancy Bros + Tommy Makem for the bloodthirsty year of 1970. Perhaps 100x
posted by ohshenandoah at 11:53 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

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