THE JOY OF (a mixed) SEX (duet) : Couple #3

Tindersticks have long been the masters of the great duet, with the baritone and velvety style of vocalist Stewart Staples just lending itself perfectly to contributions from a wide range of female companions on record. There have been a number of such recordings over the years, most of which have reflected on the inability of couples to get on.

One of their earliest releases, in 1993, was A Marriage Made in Heaven, on which there was a guest appearance from Niki Sin, from the English riot grrrl band Huggy Bear, while a later version of the same song featured the Italian actress Isabella Rossellini.

Carla Togerson, from the American indie-folk band The Walkabouts, was mournful on Travelling Light on the band’s second album released in 1995; the next album (Curtains, 1997) saw American actress Ann Magnuson join in on Buried Bones and then, in 2003, possibly what had been, up to then, the best of the duets thanks to the wry and observant contribution by American vocalist Lhasa de Sela

mp3 : Tindersticks – Sometimes It Hurts

And then in 2016, this appeared on the album The Waiting Room:-

mp3 : Tindersticks  – Hey Lucinda (featuring Lhasa de Sela)

This was something really unexpected as Lhasa had passed away, at the tragically young age of 37, back on New Year’s Day 2010 after a near two-year battle with breast cancer.

Stuart Staples, in an interview in 2016, provided an explanation:-

“When I first wrote the song, I was very excited because I broke a kind of stricture.”

“From ‘Islands in the Stream’ to Lee [Hazlewood] and Nancy [Sinatra], duets have been written the same way. The man sings a bit, the woman sings a bit, they sing the chorus together. In ‘Hey Lucinda,’ the music follows the conversation rather than the conversation being fit into the song structure. I went to Montreal, where Lhasa lived, and sang it with her, and it sounded great, but I was struggling—it was too linear, and when it feels too easy I don’t trust it. Soon after that, Lhasa became ill and we lost her, and I had to put the song away.”

“It took three or four years before I could listen to her music again, but I heard it then as a lost moment between two people rather than the song I’d been struggling with. I was able to feel the music in a very different way. Turns out it just needed a glockenspiel.”



One thought on “THE JOY OF (a mixed) SEX (duet) : Couple #3

  1. Ah, Tindersticks. A revered band that never did enjoy the success they deserve. This makes for a great article – they are masters of the ‘duet’ – as the chosen tracks prove.

    The ‘thing’ that allows Tindersticks to rise above the mass is the wry “ohhh” moment at 1.06 in Hey Lucinda – marvellous.

    An uplifting start to the day. Than you.

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