heartbroke audio: One by One, by Connie Converse (1954)
In August of 1974 Elizabeth “Connie” Converse disappeared. She wrote a handful of goodbye letters to friends and family and packed most of her belongings into her Volkswagen. In her brother’s garage she left behind a haunting body of recorded music that would remain virtually unheard for the next 35 years. She also left a filing cabinet full of photos, tapes, journals and letters. She drove off and was neither seen nor heard from again. No further record of Connie’s life or death exists. She simply vanished.
In 2004, two longtime friends and audio engineers, Daniel Dzula and David Herman heard one of Connie’s songs broadcast on David Garland’s Spinning on Air. Afterward they got in touch with Connie’s remaining friends and family, heard more of her music, and learned more of her mysterious story. In 2008 they formed Lau derette Recordings to ensure that Connie’s music would be preserved, and that the quiet, melancholy beauty of her songs could be recognized.
This last March a strange, yet affable, record store clerk in Park Slope named Bennie cornered me in his shop and demanded that I take a copy of Connie’s album, along with a carton of Newport cigarettes. I sold the cigarettes outside of subway stops and listened to the album at a friend’s house later on that evening. I immediately got the feeling that I was somehow destined to come across Connie’s music. All it took was 50 years and an unlikely string of coincidences.
“Yes, the moon is down. But hand in hand in the dark makes a passage possible.”
Connie offers this brief introduction to her song One by One, written in 1954 and first recorded by Gene Deitch. This recording comes from 1956, when Connie gathered together most of her guitar songs and re-recorded them by herself, at home, in her Grove Street apartment in West Village of New York City.
Needless to say, I’ve never met Connie Converse. Though after hearing her music I wish I had. I think the two of us would have a lot to talk about.
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