Drove back from Brighton yesterday, listening to Sounds of the Seventies on Radio Two. Almost anything from that decade, especially the earlier part, is good by me, especially when driving, but when I think seventies I tend to think Crosby Stills Nash and Young. Back in the day I used to sing in a band - me and three guys, I wasn't great shakes on the guitar but I could play a bit and sing. We had quite a repertoire, and whatever we did tended to sound like Crosby Stills. We mostly sang in my living room and kept the neighbours awake, but we did sometimes do actual gigs for which we were sometimes paid. Fame with a small 'f' - yes, this was my decade and I would bask in the memories were it not for the fact of our name, which was Innisfree. Do not ask why. It is one of those things which pricks me into a small sweat of perplexed embarassment, especially on sleepless nights. Of all the W.B. Yeats poems I knew, Innisfree was by no means my favourite, nor was there any likelihood of my going there (it doesn't exist by that name). And, in any case, nothing we sang had anything to do with Ireland. I just liked the sound of the name and it seemed then to carry the right kind of resonance for the person I wanted to be which was a bit of a hippy. The "bit of" is important here, because I wouldn't have been much use at being the real thing. But I looked the part - a bit: hair falling over the breasts, tie-dyes, beads, and I smelled of patchouli. The problem was that people used to ask why we were called that, and because I was the one who chose the name it was up to me to explain, which I couldn't. We were hired by an Italian restaurant in Golders Green one new year's eve. Along with our usual repertoire, we included Hava Nagila, which we were obliged to sing seven times over as the whole restaurant joined in and got up to dance. At the end a man in a yarmulke asked who chose the name and looked baffled: nice Jewish girl like me singing Hava Nagila, choosing something like Innisfree.
I sometimes tell the twenty-year-old me: don't choose that because in many years down the line it will niggle at you. You will remember blissful nights singing, we are stardust, we are golden, and how it was possible at that time, in that place, to really believe this and the person who said you sounded just like Joni Mitchell. But you will wince every time you remember Innisfree.
The twenty-year-old doesn't listen. She wants to be airy, happy, free. She chooses a name that sounds like those things. I secretly love her for this.