COMMENTS

Bradenton-bound Sophie B. Hawkins still gives a 'damn': interview

/
Hawkins 1

Grammy-nominated singer Sophie B. Hawkins will headline the inaugural Pussycat Festival, a concert to benefit the Bradenton-based Gulf Shore Animal League, its new Bottle Baby Program and the non-profit organization's expanding Feline Foster Program. The festival is Saturday at Tarpon Pointe Tiki Bar & Grill, 801 Riverside Drive East, Bradenton. COURTESY PHOTO / ALAN MERCER

Earlier this year, Sophie B. Hawkins appeared on the NBC comedy series "Community" as herself, performing "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" and "As I Lay Me Down." They are both beautiful, timeless pop songs. "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover," though, that’s the one that transformed the singer’s life, and, in all likelihood, the lives of countless strangers.

Hawkins, who performs in Bradenton on Saturday at a benefit festival for Gulf Shore Animal League along with other luminaries, reflects on a time before she had achieved even the smallest modicum of fame. She recalls, sweetly, a life-changing day that would eventually propel her from Greenwich Village folkie to international pop star. It’s the story, at least part of the story, of "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover."

“I remember the day, the room, everything about where I wrote all my songs, but I’ll never forget ‘Damn,’ I remember that one in particular,” Hawkins says by phone from the bedroom of her New York apartment. “I knew it was an important point in my life, what was interesting – I’m looking at the tiny upright piano in my bedroom right now that I wrote it on – is I had this amazing underground appreciation in the Village, but when I wrote ‘Damn’ people didn’t like in the Village. They didn’t like it. I thought, ‘They’re wrong, this is something that is going to break me through.’”

Slideshow of complete Pussycat Festival lineup with performance times

Hawkins vertical by Alan Mercer

COURTESY PHOTO / ALAN MERCER

If you were of a certain age in 1992, you could not escape “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover.” The synthesizers and the rest of the dated production values are relatively graceful and subtle, the vocals tough yet tender, the lyrics at once romantic and sexy and, yeah, sure, more than a little sentimental, but, ultimately, the song has a couple very important components: it’s real catchy and the lyric has universal appeal. The chorus, replete with ringing bells, grabs you like a surprise kiss from someone you’ve admired from afar, for far too long. The song, if you listen closely, is also a bit subversive, at least for a ubiquitous pop hit in the still homophobic early 1990s. Hawkins sings, in the final verse, “I lay by the ocean making love to her with visions clear.”

Regardless of how people identified with the song, they did identify, making “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” a Top 5 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 as well as a success on the pop charts in Australia, Norway, the United Kingdom and several more European countries. The song continues to uplift people who cherish, or merely stumble across, the recording. In concert, its allure goes beyond the charms of mere nostalgia. Listen to Hawkins’ 2006 live album “Bad Kitty Board Mix” and “Damn” sounds even better – rawer, richer, more emotive – than the original recording; the singer gives the song a sultry blues edge and stretches it out to nearly eight minutes without ever meandering. It’s potent stuff.

“People come up to me young and old and tell me, right in my face, how much the song means to them,” Hawkins says. “Sometimes they cry and tell me how this song changed their life. It’s so incredible and wonderful.”

PUSSYCAT FESTIVAL FEATURING SOPHIE B. HAWKINS
Grammy-nominated singer Sophie B. Hawkins will headline the inaugural Pussycat Festival, a concert to benefit the Bradenton-based Gulf Shore Animal League, its new Bottle Baby Program and the non-profit organization's expanding Feline Foster Program.
Slideshow of complete lineup with performance times
4-10 p.m. Saturday, Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar, 801 Riverside Drive East, Bradenton; $20; 780-3046; pussycatfestival.gsalinc.org.

PUSSYCAT FESTIVAL FEATURING SOPHIE B. HAWKINS
Grammy-nominated singer Sophie B. Hawkins will headline the inaugural Pussycat Festival, a concert to benefit the Bradenton-based Gulf Shore Animal League, its new Bottle Baby Program and the non-profit organization's expanding Feline Foster Program.
Slideshow of complete lineup with performance times
4-10 p.m. Saturday, Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar, 801 Riverside Drive East, Bradenton; $20; 780-3046; pussycatfestival.gsalinc.org.

Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013 Wade Tatangelo has been an entertainment reporter, columnist and reviewer for more than a decade at publications nationwide. He is a Hershey, Pa., native who grew up in Tampa and graduated from the University of South Florida. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune in 2013. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: November 10, 2013
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.
COMMENTS