Mazzy Star: “Fade into You”
Maybe it’s just because I’m exhausted after a couple nights of less-than-ideal sleeping conditions while camping at Mt. Rainier, but “Fade into You” seemed like a good, sleepy song for today. Fact of the matter is, it’s a great song for just about any day, unless you’re trying to get stuff done and motivate yourself with a little high energy. Probably not the ideal song for that. But since all I need to do now is clean the dirt and campfire smoke off of myself (Check!), catch up on e-mail and work stuff (Check!), and relax (Double-check!), this will do just fine.
Mazzy Star is a descendant of Rain Parade, David Roback’s sleepy psychedelic pop outfit from the 1980s that was grouped into the then-burgeoning Los Angeles “Paisley Underground” scene. I remember buying Rain Parade’s Emergency Third Rail Power Trip when it came out in 1983 and being partially mesmerized and partially bored by their sound, which sounded like a slower cross between early Pink Floyd and the Byrds. That sounds like the setup for a potentially great band, and in fact they weren’t bad at all. A few of the songs were great but you really had to be in a certain mood to listen to it all the way through, and I guess I just wasn’t in that mood too often. After Rain Parade, Roback formed Opal, which put out one critically acclaimed album in 1987 and then transformed into Mazzy Star after a reshuffling of band members, including the addition of singer Hope Sandoval.
For me, Mazzy Star is where Roback’s psychedelic inclinations found their most interesting and well-conceived setting. Their 1993 sophomore album, So Tonight That I Might See, is one of the best late-night listens you’ll find — great wind-down-the-party music, or simply excellent for listening to no matter what you’re doing after midnight. Hope Sandoval is the ideal vocalist for Roback’s brand of psychedelia, her beautiful voice sounding sexy, detached, and intimate all at the same time, much the way Nico’s voice worked for the Velvet Underground. And the absolute pinnacle of that sound is the album’s leadoff track, “Fade into You.” The song is completely timeless — there isn’t a thing about it to place it as a ’90s song, or any other decade, for that matter. It’s one of those songs that seems to have only been channeled through the performer, not written by them, as though it existed somewhere out there in the ether since time began and they were just capturing it and sending it through the recording equipment. It’s that good.