Getting The Spins: Buffy Sainte-Marie – Illuminations

(Vanguard, 1969)

Easily the best $10 I spent at the Eugene Record Show this past weekend. I’d forgotten this was on my list until I saw Buffy looking back at me from the bin. This cosmic cult classic veers from Sainte-Marie’s more traditional style of folk music (although, she was an outsider even then)–it’s darker and more experimental than anything she’s done, pushing her voice and instrumentation into ghostly realms. Sainte-Marie is a trailblazer on many levels. On Illuminations she ran her vocals through a Buchla 100 synthesizer, something that hadn’t been done before. She was probably the first woman to talk about, and breastfeed, on television. Throughout her career she’s been outspoken about women’s and Native Americans’ place in society. She denounced Vietnam and the Nixon Administration. Simply put: Illuminations and Buffy Sainte-Marie were lightyears ahead of their time.