Connie Converse was born in 1924, and disappeared in 1974. The moving, witty songs she wrote in the 1950s went largely unheard until they got exposure on Spinning On Air in 2004. Recently Connie’s music has been the subject of articles, a documentary film, and a stage presentation — and albums of her songs have been released performed by her and by prominent contemporary artists. Episode 4 of the Spinning On Air podcast, “Connie Converse Walking In the Dark,” told the poignant story of her musical life.
Now producer/host David Garland looks again at Connie’s life, revealing a more complete portrait of a complex woman who was not only an unsung songwriter, but also a smart, politically engaged activist who worked on peace, civil rights, and women’s issues, and for years wrote and edited policy journals such the Journal of Conflict Resolution. It was a risky time for activism; some of the organizations she worked for were targeted for connections to Soviet espionage by the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee.
Riley Trumbell, who worked with Connie in the 1960s, speaks with David about her observations and impressions of Connie, and in part 2 of this podcast, will tell of the “horrible” thing that Connie did to her with the best intentions. Amber Benson reads some of Connie’s writing, and we hear music from the new album “Vanity Of Vanities—A Tribute To Connie Converse,” produced by John Zorn, featuring, among others, Arone Dyer (Buke & Gase) and Greg Saunier (Deerhoof).
- Connie Converse Walking In the Dark (Spinning On Air episode 4)
- Connie Converse on Wikipedia
- Amerasia journal on Wikipedia
- Vanity Of Vanities—A Tribute To Connie Converse (on Tzadik) / (on Amazon), produced by John Zorn, featuring Jeff Tweedy, Martha Wainwright, Laurie Anderson, Jesse Harris, Arone Dyer, Karen O, Mike Patton, Margaret Glaspy, Greg Saunier, and many others; extensive liner notes by David Garland
- “How Sad, How Lovely” by Connie Converse on Squirrel Thing Records
- Amber Benson on iMDB
- Philip Converse on Wikipedia
Photo of Connie Converse courtesy Philip Converse / background image: Chris Garland
Connie Converse in her apartment, photo courtesy Philip Converse
Cover of the Journal of Conflict Resolution featuring article by Elizabeth (Connie) Converse
Above: Riley Trumbull, photo courtesy Riley Trumbull
Cover for Vanity Of Vanities — A Tribute To Connie Converse, Tzadik