Sandy Denny looked radiant. Yes, one is always supposed to say that about ladies when they’re pregnant, but in this case it was true. She lounged back, relaxed and ebullient, on the over-stuffed sofa of the Northamptonshire cottage where she lives with her husband, Trevor Lucas.
With her baby due barely a month from now, she was already beginning to talk about an autumn tour, and with no sign at all of any frustration at having been off the road for so long – well over a year, in fact, since she and Trevor left Fairport Convention.
“To be honest,” she said, “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, ‘cos in many ways I really needed a break from the business. I’ve been in it up to my eyes for over ten years, virtually non-stop, though people don’t realise it because I’m not hitting the headlines every day.
“But when you’re working for ten or 11 years with not much of a break you can go completely mad without realising it at the time. It’s taken me since last summer to get back to some sort of sanity – something I didn’t even realise I’d lost.
“Now I feel I can renew my old enthusiasm. For instance, last week I just went and played the piano for about three hours, all sorts of stuff, just for my own enjoyment. It really felt fantastic. It’s the first time I’ve done that, just out of sheer enjoyment, not out of necessity – not having to learn something or write something. I tell you what, it feels good for the first time in years.
“I think by the time that I’m ready to go back and work, which will be October or November, I shall be ready to do it. Obviously, there’s a lot to go through before then, with the baby and everything, but this is how I feel now.
“If I continue along the way I feel now about my music, not about the business but the music itself, I shall be much happier in my work when I do return to it.
“In general, I feel that I must be satisfied with myself. If I’m not satisfied with the way that I’m doing something, how can I expect anyone else to be? How can I make people feel that I’m as good as I want them to feel if I don’t think I am anyway?
“Everyone, when they review my records, seems to say the same thing: another load of dirges. The trouble is that one of the reasons I write those dirgy tunes is that I can’t move that fast on the piano. I’m no Fats Waller, and that’s how it comes out, though it’s a real drag, I know.
“I don’t want to write miserable songs. Do you know how I feel after I’ve written a miserable sad song? Something that’s really hit me and hurt me. I feel terrible. I go and sit down and I’m really upset by it. I always write on my own.
“It’s like a vicious circle, being on my own. I tend to think of sad things and so I write songs that make me feel even sadder. I sit down and I write something and it moves me to tears almost. I’m fed up with feeling like that. Why do I have to put myself through it? Why can’t I think about other things, try and relax a little bit more?
“I’m not really interested any more in being heavy with people. There’s no point, I’ve just realised, because what can I do? I can’t do anything about anything. What a terribly defeatist attitute, you might say, but if I can’t do anything about the way things are then surely I can try to make people feel a little better about it.
“You’ve got to let yourself branch out as much as you possibly can, otherwise you can’t appreciate things if you’re bigoted, it’s a pain.”
At long last, at least for a time, the pain seems to have gone out of Sandy’s life, and it’s a pleasure to see it.