Friday, 26 April 2013

Finding Marcella Detroit

 Hello readers!

 I recently had a great revelation regarding Marcella Detroit. This revelation may seem obvious to some but I simply hadn't put two and two together. I had always known her as the singer of I Believe, a song that played throughout my childhood, but I've only just found out that she was also in Shakespears Sister.

 This is largely to do with the fact that I had never seen her singing I Believe and at one point I thought from her voice that she was black. When I found out she was white it was via a tiny picture that wasn't sufficient to make me realise that she and that woman who sings the bulk of "Stay" were one and the same.

 I had even seen comments on the video of Stay on YouTube referencing "Marcella"... the penny just didn't drop until I recently looked Shakespears Sister up and saw her name, and thought "of course..." and when I thought about it, I realised it was the same beautiful voice I had heard on both these songs that I loved.


 "I Believe" is featured on a compilation album named Girls and Guitars that I was brought up with; it was played in our car on long journeys and on lazy summer days sitting in the garden. When I got my own mp3 player I put the album on it.

 I now know the complete track order despite the fact that my mp3 player doesn't recognise it and so it just says "track 1, track 2" etc. I Believe is track 7. It's followed by "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips, another favourite of mine, so I often used to listen to the two as a unit.

 I mainly associate this song with a memory from my youth of us driving down a sunny motorway. However, I inadvertently created another special memory for myself when I played this song on the way from the university we had been staying at to the airport when I was leaving Beijing after studying there for three weeks in winter 2012/13.

 I remember the silent city rolling past the windows in the still-dark early morning, and the sadness I felt at leaving it. And this song was playing.

 I had felt guilty about listening to music, thinking that maybe I should focus all of my attention on my last views of Beijing. However, now I realise that music can strengthen memories, and I'm sure that without linking them to I Believe my memories of that final journey would not be as strong.


 Stay is a song that I probably will have heard when I was younger as it seems to have been a 90s classic; however only last year did I hear it properly, with a critic's ear. 

 It was on a music channel on TV, on some sort of countdown of ballads, and I remember thinking at first that it was rather generic but still a good song. It has since grown on me hugely.

 The opening lyrics especially feel very poignant for me:

"If this world is wearing thin, and you're thinking of escape..."

 Haven't we all felt like our world is wearing thin, and thought of escape? By escape I don't mean death, which from the video may be what the song is referring to; I rather mean retreating from things and pretending the world doesn't exist, or perhaps physically running away. 

 If I'm feeling down I often find myself playing this song in my head and thinking of the people who would be my Marcella and want me to stay; to hold on, to try to be happy.

 Siobhan Fahey is great in Stay as well, and as Shakespears Sister was her project it wouldn't be right not to acknowledge her. However, for me Marcella makes this song; her voice and the emotion in her performance are just incredible.


 So, Marcella Detroit has gone for me from being a bodiless voice - but a brilliant one - to somebody I can envisage and I actually already knew... life is strange sometimes. 

 Thank you for reading,

 Liz x

Songs: I Believe - Marcella Detroit - 1994
Stay - Shakespears Sister - 1992

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