Your Ghost

Album: Hips And Makers (1994)
Charted: 45

Songfacts®:

  • In this haunting song, Kristin Hersh calls an old number, waking the ghost. The song is filled with opaque imagery, including the refrain:

    I think last night
    You were driving circles around me


    At the time, Hersh was developing a personal relationship with her manager, Billy O'Connell, whom she later married, but the song came from a deeper part of her subconscious. After suffering a head injury when she was 16, Hersh started hearing noises in her head that would coalesce into songs. This often happened in the middle of the night, which explains why the lyric seems like a sleepwalk through the psyche.

    Hersh has ascertained that the ghost is an observer, able to see things in us we can't see for ourselves.
  • "Your Ghost" was the first single from Hips And Makers, Kristin Hersh's first solo album. She was 27 when it was released, but already a seasoned musician - she formed Throwing Muses with her stepsister Tanya Donelly when both were 14.

    Hersh didn't set out to make a solo album: she wrote a set of very personal songs while on tour with Throwing Muses and recorded them with just an acoustic guitar at a horse stable near her home in Newport, Rhode Island. When she gave the tape to her manager/love interest, Billy O'Connell, she thought it was for his ears only, but he sent it to Throwing Muses' record label, Warner Brothers, which decided it should be a solo album, with Hersh marketed as a solo acoustic performer.

    Warner Brothers connected Hersh with producer Lenny Kaye, who was the guitarist in the Patti Smith Group and had produced Suzanne Vega. He and Hersh recorded the album in just three days at the same stable where she recorded the demos, because it "felt less like someone stealing my diaries and publishing them." The only additional musician on the recordings is Jane Scarpantoni on cello, which is prominent on "Your Ghost."

    The album sold about 300,000 copies, which was more than the combined total of all the Throwing Muses albums at that point. It did indeed establish Hersh as a solo artist, but she kept Throwing Muses active and later formed what she calls a "noise rock" band called 50FootWave.
  • Michael Stipe of R.E.M. sings on this track and appears in the video. In a Songfacts interview with Hersh, she explained how it happened:

    "Michael took the demos for my first solo record off my manager's desk, so he knew the material and was keeping up with me while I recorded to make sure I don't wreck the songs. When he called the studio, his voice blended so well with the material that I asked him to sing backups, promising him that:

    1) The record wouldn't be released.
    2) That if it was, there'd be no single.
    3) That the single would never be "Your Ghost."
    4) Even if it was, there'd never be a video for it.

    So he was basically off the hook. I believed all these things to be true and none of them were."
  • In 2004, Kristin Hersh released an electric version of "Your Ghost" with her band 50FootWave.

Comments: 1

  • Rae Taylor For Heidi Hatton Rip from Pleasant Prairie Wi 53158My friend introduced Your Ghost to me 2004. Awesome
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