Pappy and Harriet’s was packed on Saturday, March 29, for a show by Linda Perhacs, a folk singer from the ’70s whose first record, Parallelograms, was rediscovered in the Internet age. The crowd, with ample numbers of fans both younger and older, enjoyed a wonderful performance.
Parallelograms was released in 1970 and featured a unique psychedelic folk sound and haunting, yet beautiful songs. However, the album didn’t find an audience, and her music career fizzled. But much like Rodriguez and the band Death, Perhacs was rediscovered by young music fans who sought after obscure artists, thanks in part to the rebirth of vinyl. When the folk label Wild Places sought out Perhacs, it reportedly took three years for them to find her; she was working as a dental hygienist.
On March 4, she released her second album, The Soul of All Natural Things, 44 years after Parallelograms.
Perhacs walked onto the stage at Pappy’s with assistance from her two female backing vocalists. While she looked a little frail, she explained that her many years as a dental hygienist left it difficult for her to keep her neck upright. She started her 50-minute set with “Freely,” a track from her latest album. Though she had never performed a live show until a few years ago, she seemed comfortable onstage.
She told a story about Chimacum, Wash., being infatuated with its natural beauty—which inspired the first track on Parallelograms, “Chimacum Rain.” The backing vocalists brought the song alive as the crowd was seemingly put under a spell.
After performing “Children,” she told a story about her song “Prisms of Glass.” She was once asked if she could perform Parallelograms in its entirety; she said she thought it was impossible—until she realized that modern technology could help her do so. This revelation helped lead to “Prisms of Glass,” as she was able to create the effect of 300 vocalists as she conceived it for the new album.
Her producer on the new album, Fernando Perdomo, played guitar and synthesizer at the show, and talked about how he had written a song inspired by Parallelograms after hearing the album. However, he could never finish it—until he met Linda, and she was able to complete “Daybreak” in one day. The percussion from one of the backing vocalists beating on a wooden box and Perdomo’s perfect acoustic melody made the song a delight to hear live.
One of the more interesting stories she told involved one of Perhacs’ younger patients: He told her that he had watched the Daft Punk film Electroma, and that they had performed her song “If You Were My Man,” without giving her proper credit. She said that she was nervous about calling her former label, Universal Records, and telling them about the issue, fearing that Daft Punk would get in trouble. However, Daft Punk eventually cooperated with Perhacs, and she was able to meet them afterward.
Before performing “Parallelograms,” the title track off her 1970 album, she said that the famous energy of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s inspired the song, and that it probably couldn’t be written today; the song gave me goosebumps because of how beautiful it sounded live. When the psychedelic part of the song began—with a series of echoes, keyboard effects, clock sounds and other things—it became downright haunting.
Perhacs closed her set with “Song of the Planets,” saying that it was inspired by a patient who studied Jewish mysticism and the planets, and told Perhacs about a dream she had.
Perhacs told a lot of stories about her various songs, and she came across as honest, humble, thankful for her resurgence—and feeling right at home. It’s hard to believe she never tasted success until her rediscovery, because Linda Perhacs’ talent just can’t be duplicated.