In Hindsight : Karen Black : Dreaming of You (1971-1976)

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

Over-imbibing aside, if there's one thing I've caught myself doing regularly during this pandemic, it's getting too excited about new music, particularly new, old music. Believe me when I tell you that the elation Maria felt outside the walls of Nonnberg Abbey would have barely registered next to what I felt upon hearing Richard Hell's Destiny Street was being rereleased in all of its messy glory.

This feeling hit me again recently when it came to my attention that Anthology Recordings would be releasing the Karen Black's Dreaming of You (1971-1976).

OK, raise your hand if you know who Karen Black is.

Not many.

OK, how many of you have heard of these guys?

Interesting, but they really don't have much to do with the actual person, Karen Black.

If you know Karen Black, I hope it's from her roles in films like Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces (for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, and won a Golden Globe) and the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, which earned her a second Golden Globe, instead of cameos on Murder, She Wrote and Miami Vice. She was one hell of an actress, and also had a decent set of pipes, which Robert Altman exploited in 1975's Nashville, a film in which he had his actors write and sing their own songs. Black, for her efforts, received a Grammy nomination.

All told, the Chicago native chalked up 250+ film and television credits before her death in 2013. However, it seems very few people, even music people, realize that music was a constant during her career. Well, maybe a few diehard fans knew.

It seems that Black regularly wrote and recorded songs throughout the 1970s, not to mention worked with two of the era’s most prime producers, Bones Howe and Elliot Mazer. In 2008, she met Cass McCombs. The two became friends, and Black contributed vocals to his Catacombs (2009) and Big Wheel and Others (2013) albums. After her passing, McCombs found himself of possession of a cardboard box filled with quarter-inch reels that were painstakingly cleaned, transferred and remixed.

And voila!

The result is Dreaming of You (1971-1976), a 17-song collection that shines a whole new light on the talent of Karen Black, a woman Peter Fonda summed up perfectly.

[She] managed to play kooky, she managed to play sexy, she managed to play crazed. She managed to play all the different ways of human nature.

Dreaming of You (1971-1976) is available for pre-order and will be released July 16th on Anthology Recordings.


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