During my youth, I had an incredible amount of…innocent…crushes on alternative female musicians. My college years spanned 1992-1996, a fantastic time to be following the nascent alternative scene. And I probably had a crush on every single one of them. Except for PJ Harvey…she frightened me (though I love her music).
There was Juliana Hatfield:
And Tanya Donelly of Belly:
And Shirley Manson of Garbage:
And Heather Nova:
But none of these alterna-chicks had my heart like Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo.
The pig tails, the blue eyes, the pop candy flowing from her lips…I am still smitten. “Here and Now” is a prime-cut relic of the mid-90s rock grrls era. My adoration of Kay Hanley and Letters to Cleo was cemented when a group of friends and I went to see the band at EKU in Richmond, KY at a cramped, small venue. Letters to Cleo rocked it for two hours. Kay Hanley was the real deal, she could sing like a champ. She sported a black T-shirt and black leather pants. That night remains one of the most fun evenings of my life.
I bought a signed CD (that I still have). And I bought this shirt (or one similar to it…that I don’t still have, sadly):
That’s Ben Wyatt (played by Adam Scott) from the NBC show Parks & Rec. In the season finale of Parks & Rec, Kay Hanley and the band make several appearances. Kay even gets a few lines. She gets to sing a few bars from “Here and Now.” My nostalgia meter shot through the roof. I’m still buzzing from the experience.
Nostalgia is a funny thing. Sometimes it can break your heart. Other times, it can create elation.
Kay Hanley. She creates elation.