Judy Blank is about to achieve a milestone for Dutch artists, set to be the first one to perform at AmericanaFest later this month. Blank has since garnered international acclaim for her emotive songwriting. Blank‘s 2018 LP, Morning Sun, is awash with American folk influence, inspired by a trip to the U.S. that she had taken following the release of her debut album. Present on the album is “1995”, a nostalgic folk song that has Blank mournfully reflect on the feelings of entrapment that she had felt with a past love. Sweet acoustic instrumentation works alongside Blank’s warm vocal delivery to delicately craft each heartfelt rumination, making for an ensnaring listen.
In a statement to PopMatters, Blank looks back on the development of “1995” and its aftermath, including the reception that Elton John had given it.
“‘1995’ is a song about growing pains. The period leading up to writing it was almost as painful as the one that came after. At the time of writing it, I was in a very steady relationship. It was perfect on paper. But something inside me felt trapped like a caged bird. I wanted to spread my metaphorical wings so bad. But I knew that by doing that, I would have to break the heart of someone that loved me unconditionally. I may have been a little bit scared of feeling lonely as well.
“So I decided to stick with doing the dumbest thing ever: not talk about it and silently wishing these feelings would disappear. But they didn’t, they stressed me out. And while I was walking around East Nashville, trying to process my feelings, the line ‘Maybe I’m Too Young to Grow Old With You’ came to me. I wrote it down in my notebook and wrote the whole song with my friend Suzie Brown the next day. It was such a magic moment. The feelings just poured out of me. After we’d written the song, I decided not to say anything to my boyfriend about it. He accidentally heard the song through Suzie’s husband, who had helped me record a demo of it. I’m surprised by how long we stayed together after that moment. I remember telling him: ‘It’s just a song, baby.’ Except it never is. I know that now.”
Blank continues, “This song turns out to be a favorite of one of my musical heroes: Sir Elton John. He added it to his personal favorite songs playlist, and his team informed me of it. The funny thing about this is that it’s one big mystery how the song came to his ears. My label has no idea, I have no idea, and no one took the credit for showing it to him. All I know is one day my phone won’t stop buzzing. When I pick it up, I see I have over a hundred Twitter notifications. I’m curious to see what the fuss is about, so I click on the little blue square on my screen and see this“.
“I remember thinking: ‘This is not real. There’s no way that’s the real Elton John.’ So I put my phone away and then picked it up again. It was still there. It was real. The next day I was playing a live radio show, and in the interview with the radio host, I told the audience what happened the day before. Sitting in the audience was the owner of Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome, where Elton would be playing his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road show. It would be his last ever show in the Netherlands. It was as sold out as it could be. But right after my performance, the man walked up to me and promised me he would get me to the show. And guess what? He didn’t forget about it. It was the first and probably the last time of me seeing Elton perform live. The show was incredible and moved me to pieces.”
“I would love to meet the man one day and discover how he found out, though. One day.”