1971 Melanie – Nickel Song
Melanie Anne Safka-Schekeryk grew up in the Queens area of New York City until her family moved to New Jersey. The relocation was not to her liking, so she ran away from home and briefly settled in California. She eventually returned to New Jersey and finished high school.
She studied acting in college while performing at the Bitter End and other folk clubs. She signed with Columbia Records and although she did not initially have any hits in the US, her recording of Bobo’s Party reached the top of the charts in France in 1969.
Melanie moved to Buddah Records and released several more singles that year.
An invitation from Woodstock led to Melanie becoming one of three solo female performers at the show. During one of her songs, people in the audience began holding up matches (and maybe a few candles), and that inspired Melanie to write the song Lay Down (Candles In The Wind). She recorded the song with the Edwin Hawkins Singers and the single peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Buddah Records kept insisting that Melanie deliver more albums to them, but she refused to be hurried. She even wrote and cut a song in 1971 named Nickel Song bashing the record company for asking too much from her. Not much came from the song…initially.
Melanie ran away from Buddah Records and created her own label for distribution in the US (although Budday still released her catalog in the UK).
Once out from under that pressure, Melanie came up with the biggest hit of her career after eating dinner at McDonald’s: Brand New Key. The single reached the top of the Hot 100 in the US and #4 in the UK.
Her next single on her own label (Ring the Living Bell) quickly jumped into the top forty as well. Buddah Records got in on the act and released Nickel Song as a single. When the third single reached the top forty as well, Melanie apparently became the first female artist to have three singles on the top forty of the Hot 100 at the same time!
Melanie continued releasing albums and singles through 2010 without reaching the Hot 100 again after 1973. I recall hearing her version of I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love on the radio a few times in 1978, but it soon faded.
One year later, a cover version by Rita Coolidge reached #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #31 on the Hot 100.
Melanie currently lives in Nashville.
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