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Thursday, September 21st, 2023  

Vashti Bunyan

Just Another Life to Live

Published by Orion Publishing/White Rabbit Books UK

Jun 26, 2023 Bookmark and Share

As far as autobiographies go, this is a bit of an unusual one, but that is fitting for someone with Vashti Bunyan’s history. Named after a line in the titular track of her 1970 debut Lp Just Another Diamond Day, the track (as well as others on the album) was written during 1968-9 when Bunyan, with her then partner Robert Lewis and dog Blue, undertook a journey (by horse-bound carriage with their horse Bess) from south London to the Hebrides, an archipelago located off the coast of Scotland. Their destination was an island on which their friend Donovan had a home, but as is often the case, the journey proved much more interesting than the destination.

As such, the book, instead of a linear narrative of her life, mostly bypasses her early and later years, and focuses mainly on said journey, which amongst many other things, led to the release of Just Another Diamond Day (you’ll have to read to find out how) at the urging of producer Joe Boyd. While not a hit upon release, the album acquired a reputation as a classic of British and psychedelic folk (despite Bunyan’s aversion to being labeled as a folk singer) over the ensuing decades, leading to Bunyan’s return to music after more than 3 decades away, making two acclaimed albums (2005’s Lookaftering and 2014’s Heartleap) in more recent years. The stories of how those records came to be is also detailed here and is interesting as well, but one gets the feeling that Bunyan only reveals what she wanted to (and fair enough).

If the book won’t compel readers to make a similar journey, it will at the very least compel them to listen to her music and that by itself would be more than enough to recommend this. Although it takes a while to build up, it’s worth it as a chronicle of a lost world, as journeys like Bunyan’s are almost impossible to recreate in the modern world now.


Author rating: 8/10

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