Monday, July 2, 2012

Meadow, Laura Branigan and "Folk-Rock" of the early 1970s

When I was a kid, I had a 45 rpm record of the song "Cane and Able"  by some band named Meadow.  I knew nothing of the band or the song.  It was given to me by the lunchroom lady of my elementary school who also happened to hold a summer Bible camp in her garage every year.  I listened to the song several times and never forgot it.

Not that the song was particularly good.  But it did have an interesting hook:  "Throw away your cane and you are able."

Over the years I lost track of the record, but never forgot the song.  It stuck with me for almost forty years.  I could hum the song and sing much of the lyrics.  I went searching for it and found the full album on Ebay, of course.  So I bought it and became reintroduced to a band that was such a part of my childhood without me even realizing it at the time.

The album is called The Friend Ship and its cover is adorned with four hippies, locked hand in hand, floating above the ground.  Pretty typical of the time. Turning the album over I was surprised to know one of the band members:  Laura Branigan. That's right, the same Laura Branigan who would "call" Gloria about 10 years later.  She was only 15 years old when The Friend Ship was recorded. But she had such a beautiful voice, as can be heard on several tracks--most notably in a song called "Artist," written by founding member Chris Van Cleave:

My sleep is sound
I lay me down upon the ground
In my mind while the time is still kind
Now here is room for things to bloom
Above the sky for me to fly

This is a concept album that explores the journey through life, from beginning to end.  I still knew all of the words to "Cane and Able," surprisingly.  One thing I realized listening to the song, is that it helped me throughout my life remember the Lord's Prayer.  Yes, the Lord's Prayer is in the song.   This was pretty typical of a trend in the late 60s and early 70s of merging spirituality to popular music.  Songs such as "Spirit in the Sky" and "Jesus is Just Alright" were very popular.   Let's not forget Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell, as well. Plus, some nun from Australia released a rock version of "The Lord's Prayer" that made it to the number two spot of the Billboard charts in 1973.  Meadow was very much a part of this movement in music.

The Friend Ship is a surprisingly good album, even with the somewhat cornball hook of "Cane and Able."   Well-worth a listen.  Check out the video podcast below for two songs from album.

Chris Van Cleave is the sole remaining member of Meadow.  He has been pretty prolific over the years, having written some 600 songs of various genres.  On his website he has a detailed history of Meadow and is well worth a read.

As for The Friend Ship, it isn't available on cd---but you can download the entire album on iTunes, EMusic or Google Play. 

You can hear several songs from the album  (plus some later Laura Branigan, too) on Vinyl Voyage Radio, where all music is played in glorious vinyl, just as it was meant to be.


  1. Laura was 19, not 15, when she was part of Meadow. She had already graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I should know. I'm Walker Daniels' widow.

    1. Granted this was published 10 years ago, but is this actually Sharon?

    2. I am missing those old days.

  2. "Laura was 19, not 15, when she was part of Meadow. She had already graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I should know. I'm Walker Daniels' widow."

    Yeah, and I'm Stone Cold Steve Austin former WWE champion who stunned the crap out of Bill Goldberg at Wrestlemania 20! Lots of fun that was!

    See, I can make shit up too!

  3. To the first poster, looking up information, you might be correct based on things I've seen such as a marriage certificate that said 1954 but was changed to 1957. Not to mention stumbling upon her old high school which mentions about her being part of the class of 1970. Very mysterious indeed, especially when she is very reluctant to talk about Meadow even near the end of her life.

    I'll dig up more later.

    Oh, and one last thing, the so-called "official" management team of Laura's, Kathy and Vince Golik both deserve to have bullets put through their skulls! And that goes for all the retarded sheep who buys into their BS too!

  4. Laura Branigan was born 3 July 1952. It is written on her hometown Arkmons Facebook page.
    Laura Branigan (1952–2004), Grammy-nominated musician, grew up in Armonk and was a Byram Hills HS graduate (1970)

  5. This is a nice episode about this band/ laura branigan and the album.
    However, it states she met the guys in the band during her time at AADA then says she was only 15 when singing on this album. That would not make sense.
    She had to be a high school graduate to attend AADA.
    She must have been older than they claim (47) when she died.
    I met her in 2003 and now that I think about it, she may have looked more 51 than 46.
    It think she was a great singer and I miss her!

    1. You can read Chris van Cleaves story how he met Laura 1972, while she was a student at the academy. It is a very tearful story when you know the whole story about Laura.
      And if you like to read even more, I can recommend my research about Laura..

  6. Yep, Laura was definitely born on 7/3/52. She and her record company lied about her age and shaved 5 years off. Her webmasters, who also lied about being her managers, have continued to perpetuate the lie.

    1. August 15, 2016 they still proclaimed Laura was born 1957 in Brewster.

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