where in the world is Rachael Yamagata?


I’ve had a bad case of Yamagata since I first stumbled across Rachael’s EP at Tower Records (RIP) in Marina Del Rey, immediately drawn by her voice and songwriting prowess. A few months later I took in my first (the first of many, ask Paul!) RY show and was smitten for good… who was this spectacular creature? 5’1″ if she’s lucky, with a massive mane of black hair usually in her face, a voice that easily shifts from seductive purr to Joplinesque rage, songs of such broken-hearted despair that even the worst cynic is usually won over and the most intriguing light green eyes set against Japanese features… wow, sign me up! I’ve dragged everyone to see Rachael at one time or another and have had the great pleasure of meeting her on more than four or five occasions. I even had a great picture of us (much better than the one over on the “about me” page) but in my haste forgot to save it. I was in Virginia with my folks last September when of all great coincidences we arrived in Alexandria on Rachael’s birthday and she happened to be playing to her hometown crowd. Her aunt took the picture of us. So, point is… I don’t know, what’s the point? Oh, right… Over the last five years now, I’ve travelled far and wide, high and low, always in support of this amazing woman and fantastic artist but I fear that she’s going to be lost in the great fuck-up that is the current state of the music business. And the reason? Where’s the big single? Where’s the big tune that Apple can sell it’s new OS with? Lesser-than artists like Sarah Barellies have flown right past Rachael with just such singles. I had hope that on her last record, the great song “Faster” would have been the break-out for her. What better way to present Apple OS Cheetah (or some such nonsense) than with a lyric like “I’m going faster, you’re going backwards, you’re going to miss me when I’m gone?” Take that PC! But no: Warner Bros. (see the Lindsay Pagano post below for more proof) apparently wouldn’t know what to do with an artist these days if they came with a “how to” manual.

So, I ask the question: where in the world is Rachael Yamagata? Last I heard she was going back to the woods to write and record. I gather her publishing contracts (music supervisors have been quite good to her with film placements) are keeping the bills paid and I will certainly be the first to get whatever she releases next and buy tickets for the show… but last night I had a dream. I don’t usually dream of these sorts of things. I was directing Rachael in a music video and we were setting up a shot with the camera beneath the open lid of a grand piano, moving toward her while she sang and played. It was simple, it was beautiful… and that’s the thing that, perhaps, requires perspective. Rachael Yamagata, when I first started going to her shows, could tear your head off with a turn of phrase and bring tears to your eyes, along with her own, over a haunting melody. Someone, somewhere, however, decided that she needed to be a magazine pin-up, a teen pop star and when that didn’t work, a big sister to the younger women who relate to her heartbreaking honesty. In doing so, however, they piled too much shit on top of what was Rachael’s pure beauty and integrity. Put the girl at the piano, hair in her face, heart on her sleeve and let her make out with you with her music. Nothing else needed. And when you do that (big corporate music label) watch her walk right over the cutesy little half-wits who’ll make you money this quarter and cost you money next.

(note: after finding the following video, I wonder if this is where my dream imagery came from? Damn, I thought I was being inspired!)


One Response to “where in the world is Rachael Yamagata?”

  1. Yo Jess, Listening to that song reminds me how often we use musicians’ works as background – in movies, while talking to someone, driving, etc. RY”s song here needs tobe listened to in a semi dark room while quaffing a martini or a shot of JD. It is beautiful.
    I guess RY would be almost perfect for you. She would be absolutely perfect if she got a job at the Ralphs in Encino! Well, at least you could see her more often for free.
    The music busness swallows and spits out performers faster than I don’t know what. I wish her luck. Maybe her forte will be in writing music for others. I wll certainly bet that RY would like to see your above review on her posted somewhere prominently. It is very well written.
    Yo, Pops

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