This week in 1996, Unfair Park's Own Robert Wilonsky got down to brass tacks with Texas singer-songwriter Michelle Shocked, whose career was unexpectedly started a decade earlier.
In the story, Wilonsky retells the somewhat widely known story of Shocked's hijacked beginnings.
"She recorded the songs on a fan's weak-batteried Walkman only to find out the fan, British record-label owner Pete Lawrence, had released them in England to critical acclaim and commercial success," writes Wilonsky of Shocked's 1986 release, The Texas Campfire Tapes. The songs on the record resembled the vagabond folk ramblings of Woody Guthrie.
After a grueling seven-year battle with Lawrence, Shocked won the rights to her songs.
But, there was a less publicized side to her story -- one that she remarkably kept sealed for nearly a decade as journalists and fans bought into her country bumpkin persona. Turns out, Shocked's story couldn't have been any different from what the public perceived. She spent time in mental institutions, homeless in New York City and as an activist in San Fransisco, which is where the photo for her sophomore album short, sharp, Shocked was taken.
Hit the jump to read the entire story.
If that margin is too tight, which it is, check out the entire story over at the Observer archives.