Beautiful People

Album: Affectionately Melanie (1969)

Songfacts®:

  • Melanie's stardom was unintentional and unwanted: She had no desire to be a celebrity and was more interested in helping people in need.

    "I applied to the Peace Corps," Melanie said, "but my credentials as a folk singer guitar player didn't take me far."

    "Beautiful People" encapsulates her personal philosophy in many ways. Ironically, it's also the song most responsible for launching her into stardom.
  • The inspiration for "Beautiful People" came during a New York City blackout that happened in Melanie's childhood.

    "It was dark," Melanie said. "There were old people in the building. (OK, maybe they were in their 40s, but they seemed old at the time.)"

    Melanie handed candles out during the emergency.

    "The evening was magical," she recalls. "It was anything but cold and uncaring, which was New York's reputation. Days after the blackout, on the subway, I was thinking, 'beautiful people caring from the heart.'"
  • Melanie took her song about common folk to Woodstock after she was unexpectedly asked to play. She was nowhere close to being a celebrity at that time; so green and so young, in fact, that her mother actually drove her to the concert.

    "I took that childhood experience with me upstate to Woodstock and what an event and experience that was. The only time something like that, of that magnitude, ever happened. I was one girl, playing three chords on my guitar, with attendees who came for some big rock performers. I thought they may stone me or throw tomatoes, but I resonated with 500,000 people instantaneously."

    That Woodstock experience exposed Melanie to the masses. It also inspired "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," which would later seal her stardom.
  • Melanie didn't cling to her recording successes. Her heyday was relatively short-lived because she had no interest in playing the part of the star and made some choices that put her in conflict with her record label. From all appearances, Melanie was the real deal Holyfield. She's best remembered for "Lay Down," "Brand New Key," and "What Have They Done to My Song, Ma." In many ways, though, it all started with "Beautiful People," a song remains one of the best statements of what she stood for.

Comments: 1

  • Bill from UsMelanie, Melanie, Melanie. Her songs were either beautiful or annoying, sometimes at the same time!, but jeez she was so beautiful, every boys dream. I had a poster even. I also had about 5 of her albums. But really didn't tell anybody I was listening to them! It was that kind of fandom (when I was about 12 years old.)
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