Holly Miranda | Midnight Oil

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Midnight Oil

by Holly Miranda

Holly’s straightforward songwriting, soulful delivery and a lighters-in-the-air orchestration places her alongside the pantheon of songwriters who can make heartache sound beautiful.
Genre: Folk: Political Folk
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Midnight Oil
3:55 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Recorded over the course of two months, with her band from Brooklyn, as well as a commanding 28 person choir. Holly explains, “friends from Israel to Mexico sent their voices to me.” Those 28 friends include some incredible guest artists such as Ani DiFranco, Kyp Malone (TVOTR), Ximena Sarinana and Sasheer Zamata (SNL), to name a few.

Originally released in 1978 by Cris Williamson on a record called “Lumiere”, a “scifi fable” for children of all ages, “Midnight Oil” had been in obscurity until Holly stumbled onto a vinyl copy at a small vintage shop in Phoenica, New York. It was June 14th 2016, two days after the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Captivated and moved by the song, Miranda immediately spent the next three days recording a cover of ‘Midnight Oil’ on an out of tune piano in the woods. The end mantra was so healing she wanted to share the initial recording with everyone, but a friend encouraged her to take it to LA (where she was about to start a new record) and record a better quality version. And she did.

The result is a stunning powerful choral anthem of Hope. The recording lead to Cris and Holly meeting and they both felt the best recipient of the proceeds would be Standing Rock. Holly took part in two benefit concerts including L.A.’s We Stand With Standing Rock at the Fonda Theater with Tv On The Radio and Fiona Apple.

"Despite there being so many worthy causes in dire need of help when we looked at where the biggest fire was Standing Rock seemed the only choice," Holly elaborated. "The fight to stop the Dakota pipeline is far from over. Water is life. We've got to help each other, take care of each other.......“Don’t let the Midnight Oil burn low, no don’t let it burn out, Let’s see how things turn out, In the end…."

Garrett Lewis - Piano
Josh Werner - Bass
Jared Samuel - Mellotron
Jon Ulman - Drums
Maria Eisen - Bari Sax
Ginger Dolden - Violin
Pete Lanctot - Violin
Holly Miranda - Vocal

The New Asylum Choir
Jared Samuel
Garrett Eaton
Stevie Weinstein-foner
Sasheer Zamata
Ani Difranco
Kyp Malone
Jesse Smith
Nico Turner
Lizz Winstead
Natalie Morales
Laurel Sprenglemeyer
Joan Wasser
Ambrosia Parsley
Ximenia Sarinana
Sally Kohn
Gracie Coates
Rachel Ruggles
Sharon Sulami
Jenny Wade
Cyrina Fiallo
Marnie Herald
Simone van Seenus
Trish Bendix
Jen Rosenstien
Lacey Story
Meg Ghiroli
Jaime King
Libby King

Recorded at Dangerbird Studios in Los Angeles, CA & Coldcut Productions in Brooklyn, NY
Produced by Holly Miranda and Jared Samuel
Engineered by Florent Barbier and Matthew Morgan
Mixed by Holly Miranda and Jared Samuel
Mastered by Dan Millice
String arrangements by Invisible Familiars
Art direction by Jacqueline Di Milia
Music and Lyrics by Cris Williamson ©1978 (BMI)
Originally released on Pacific Cascade Records
Additional arrangement by Holly Garrett Lewis

Holly’s Story of how “Midnight Oil” found her

It was June '16 and I was on tour with Garrett Lewis. On June 12th there was a shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL. 49 killed, 53 wounded. We had to play our last show in North Hampton, MA the next night and I cried the whole time. After the show a fan came up and handed Garrett a letter for me. Inside was one of the most honest, warm and encouraging notes I’ve ever read, let alone received. They spoke about their struggles with being trans and thanked me for being transparent and allowing the space to be for mourning our lost family. I sat behind the venue and cried some more. (I still keep that note on me and read it when I’m feeling tired or discouraged. Thank you stranger if you ever read this. )

We loaded out and drove to Phoenicia NY. In the morning we ambled into town for some pancakes, then popped by the Mystery Spot to check out the records. We decided we'd each find one record to buy and listen to while we were setting up our gear that afternoon. I bought some weird Amy Grant Christmas record thinking it would be funny. It wasn’t. Garrett found a purple record called “Lumiere” By Cris Williamson, it said on the front “a sci-fi fable”. We headed back and started plugging things in. We put on Lumiere and when it got to the B-side this song came on that stopped me dead in my tracks. “Midnight Oil”. I ran to get Garrett and we listened to it again, then we spent most of the next three days recording a cover of it on a horribly out of tune piano. It was so healing singing that mantra at the end ‘Don’t let the midnight oil burn low, no don’t let it burn out, let’s see how things turn out in the end”. I wanted to share it with everyone and immediately. I sent it to my best friend, Ambrosia Parsley, for approval. She said “no Tiny, you take this to LA, you do this right, get a good piano”. So, that’s what I did.

I'd never heard of Cris Williamson, but I'd sent a picture of the cover of Lumiere to my friend Anne who said “Oh my god, I used to read zines about her and her lovers and hide them under my bed so my mom wouldn’t find them”. The more I began to research her, it seemed crazy that I had never heard of her. An out musician and activist who has made 33 records. I'm filled with admiration.

Anyway, I decided I needed a choir. That snowballed and soon we had all kinds of people coming through to sing on it. At some point in the second week it became obvious I needed to try and contact Cris. I couldn’t find her on social media and no one I knew had her contact info so I gave up. Then I was skimming her website and saw an email. I wrote her a letter, telling her this whole story. She replied the next morning and said “What a groove it is to be discovered!” I was in love.

Over the next few months we would finish the song and fill 28 choir robes. From Israel to Mexico and all over friends sent their voices to me. It was a magical thing to watch this song build and to hear the stories of this mantra getting stuck in everyone's head. Super stuck. Stuck for weeks!

As more time passed by, and as 2016 now draws to a close, and as the pain of division and confusion has been brought out into the light, especially via the Presidential Election it seemed very clear that all the proceeds from this song should go to a charitable cause. Despite there being so many worthy ones in dire need of help when we looked at where the biggest fire was Standing Rock seemed the only choice. Water is life. We've got to help each other, take care of each other. Let's see how things turn out in the end.

About Holly Miranda:

Raised between Detroit and Nashville, Holly has been singing for as long as she can remember. She started playing piano at the age of 5, taught herself guitar at 14. At the young age of 16, she headed to New York City and began playing shows around lower Manhattan at any venue that would take her in. Nearly 20 years later, Holly still approaches her music with the curiosity of finding a sense of home and being one within the world. Never wanting to make the same record twice, she weaves between genres undefinable. Aside from her solo records, she also recorded two full length albums with her pop/punk band The Jealous Girlfriends, played lead guitar on Karen O’s solo debut tour “Crush Songs”, and also is one fourth of the Scarlett Johansson fronted band, “Sugar for Sugar.” Holly is currently finishing work on her new solo record slated to be released in 2017 on Dangerbird Records.

About Cris Williamson:

Decades before indie labels were the norm, and years before women had any real access to the industry, Cris Williamson was busy changing the face of popular music. In 1975, the twenty-something former schoolteacher recorded The Changer and the Changed, for her brainchild, Olivia Records, the first woman-owned woman-focused record company. Her music and voice quickly became an essential part of the soundtrack of a movement, and was the cornerstone of what would become known as “women’s music,” music created, performed, and marketed specifically for and by women, lesbians in particular. Today, that recording, The Changer and the Changed, remains one of the best-selling independent releases of all time. Though her activism and music, Cris has been a tireless advocate for indigenous and First Nation People and the right to Clean Water. With 31 albums already in her catalog, Cris is set to release her 32nd, entitled Motherland, next month.



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