Synopsis of Pop Music

"Well, I got a brand new pair of roller skates,
You got a brand-new key..."

One of the most distinctive pop artists to emerge from the late 1960’s 'flower power' era was Melanie, a troubadour specializing in acoustic-based tunes that married pop’s sense of melody to the earthy sounds of folk music. This unique blend of styles helped her sell millions of albums and also made her the first contemporary solo performer to play such places as Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House. She also carried on folk music’s tradition of social consciousness by devoting time to charities like UNICEF. As a result, she became known for both good music and good deeds.

Melanie Safka began her lifelong love affair with music during her school years, toting around an acoustic guitar and teaching herself to play it. She later studied theater at art school, but she didn’t forget her love of music, playing at Greenwich Village clubs in her spare time. Over time, she developed a style built on the acoustic guitar that deftly blended folk and pop elements. By the age of 20, she was a professional singer with a record contract. In 1969, she was invited to play at the famous Woodstock Festival. Her original song “Birthday of the Sun” ended up on the Woodstock II album.

It was these experiences at the Woodstock Festival that inspired Melanie to write the song that kick-started her musical career. “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)” was a tribute to the unity that she felt at Woodstock. Musically, it blended a gospel edge into her sound by including a gospel choir—the Edwin Hawkins Singers—to contribute powerful choral vocals. The end result became a #6 hit and helped lift Melanie’s Candles In The Rain album into the Top-20 record charts. She also released Leftover Wine, a live album recorded at Carnegie Hall. It gave her further album chart success.

However, there were still plenty of hits yet to come for Melanie. After Leftover Wine, she released her gentle, folky version of the Rolling Stones classic “Ruby Tuesday” and scored a Top-40 hit. However, she scored her biggest hit at the end of 1971 with “Brand New Key,” a lighthearted ditty about a girl who loves to rollerskate. It became a #1 smash and stayed atop the charts for three weeks straight. This song was also Melanie’s first release on her very own record label, Neighborhood. She continued to tour the world successfully and became a spokesperson for the international organization UNICEF.

In 1973, Melanie decided to retire from full-time performing so she could devote time to her new family. Over the next three years, she would have just as many children. However, she continued to stay active as a recording artist during this time. She scored a Top-30 hit early in 1973 with “Bitter Bad” and released a double-live album, Melanie At Carnegie Hall. By 1977, the always-prolific Melanie had issued an additional six full-length albums of her folkish pop. After this whirlwind of activity, she decided to settle down for a break.

Melanie returned in 1982 with an album called Arabesque. It was a success in the U.K. and led to a British concert tour. She continued to perform and record throughout the 1980’s and wrote Emmy-winning music for the television show Beauty and the Beast. She also joined the successful ‘Woodstock Reunion’ tour in 1989. Today, Melanie continues to record and perform at festivals around the world. She never has a shortage of dates to play, proving that Melanie’s folk-pop sound is truly timeless.

Artist Release History

1969 - Melanie
1969 - Affectionately
1969 - Born to Be
1970 - Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)
1970 - Leftover Wine
1970 - My First Album
1970 - R.P.M.
1971 - All the Right Noises
1971 - Garden in the City
1971 - Gather Me
1971 - The Good Book
1971 - Woodstock Two
1972 - Stoneground Words
1972 - Four Sides of
1973 - At Carnegie Hall (live)
1973 - Please Love Me
1974 - Madrugada
1975 - As I See It Now
1975 - Swedish Fly Girls
1975 - Sunset & Other Beginnings
1976 - Photograph
1978 - Phonogenic Not Just Another Pretty Face
1979 - Festival of Stars
1979 - Ballroom Streets
1981 - What Have They Done to My Song Ma
1982 - Arabesque
1982 - Beautiful People
1983 - Seventh Wave
1985 - Am I Real or What?
1989 - Cowabonga
1993 - Silence Is King
1993 - Freedom Knows My Name
1994 - From Woodstock to the World (live)
1996 - Old Bitch Warrior
1999 - Melanie Magic
1999 - Ring the Living Bell: A Collection

Pop Sub Categories


Essential Music Albums

Beautiful People: The Greatest Hits Of Melanie (Buddha)

Band Members

Melanie Safka   vocals, guitar

Other Pop Music Links