Why Miss Golightly isn’t having Adele-variety statues built for her in the streets and national holidays declared in her honour is a complete mystery to me. With an incredible, unique voice, masterly song-writing ability and enough musical cachet to give a Mojo sub-editor a boner for a week, she should be on a stamp or something. But I don’t think she’d appreciate that overt appreciation. She’s a blueswoman and as such, does what the fuck she wants. She relocated from the UK to rural Georgia, where she cares for horses and tours and records when she fancies it. It’s a pretty sweet life. She now finds herself alongside Sir Paul McCartney, Irma Thomas, Rufus Wainwright, The Shins and many others on the compilation, Christmas Rules. I asked her how she felt being so close to Macca and the perils of living in the Bible Belt.
You're finally alongside Sir Paul McCartney on an album - how does that feel?
Well, oddly enough, where I grew up in rural Sussex, we used to be close neighbours, so the McCartney’s were part of my childhood. Linda bought their produce from my Granddad and took some great photos of him. I was far more interested in horses than music back then and they kept Appaloosas, which impressed the hell out of me since they were so rare and exotic. As a family, the McCartney's did so much to keep our little village afloat, helping the local hospital with fundraising to get equipment. And my Gran would later have to go in for treatment, so I suppose I have a very personal and sentimental connection to this project. I am thrilled to be involved for many reasons and, momentarily, we're neighbours again!
How did you pick your song for Christmas Rules?
There was a list of songs that were suggested and I thought this would be the one I could do the best job of. It's a song (‘That’s What I Want For Christmas’) I have long enjoyed.
You are already firmly established in the Christmas song market with ‘Christmas Tree's on Fire’..?
This has got to be my most favourite Christmas song ever! It was originally written and recorded by Mr Tom Heinl, who I am a huge fan of and I couldn't NOT record it. It's perfect! His version is always on heavy rotation over the festive season around here!
What was a typical Golightly family Christmas like?
There isn't really a typical one, to speak of. Every year it's completely different. I do like a proper Christmas dinner though, wherever I am, and I don't think I've ever missed having one of those, one way or another.
Can you remember some of the better presents you’ve got?
The best things I've ever got (not in order) were a shiny new Ruger revolver, a guitar, a tea chest of handmade chocolate and paintings from family and friends.
You now live in rural Georgia, do you miss any UK Christmassy things? How are things different over there?
Well, it's very, very hard to find parsnips, and that is always my festive mission. It can also be pretty odd when it's warm enough to be outside in shorts on Christmas morning, playing with my new toys. I miss family and friends more than any particular things.
How did you end up moving there in the first place?
I have always gone between London and Kent/Sussex. And I have always played music and had horse commitments. I think I was afraid to miss something if I didn't stay in London, but over the years that became less and less important. As I get to travel so much, it just got to the point where it didn't matter where my shit was kept any more. I was living out of a suitcase mostly anyway. So, in choosing a place to lay down roots, I thought it might as well be somewhere I could comfortably continue to be involved with the horse stuff and play music, without having to work a full time job (which doesn't leave much time for fitting in everything else). Georgia is not at all alien, in terms of topography, to me. And where I live looks a lot like where I grew up, give or take the building style and the weather. It's nice and central, easy to get by and really, really beautiful!
Have the locals accepted you?
I'm no more a novelty. I am very well bedded in around here now and nobody notices that I landed from another planet. We have a group of local friends and neighbours, who really are the most supportive, helpful people I've ever known. At first, before anyone knew we were musicians, there was a period where we kept our 'other life' very quiet. For the sake of not offending anyone, as much as anything else. It is the Bible belt, after all, which couldn't contrast more starkly with what we do. But now we are 'out' and have a network of wonderful friends and neighbours who take over here when we go on tour, stepping in without question, so that we have nothing to worry about when we're gone. It's incredible really, since we didn't know a soul, but through doing what we do here, we've really met the most incredible, salt of the earth people... it's as if we have always been here and we are treated as 'family'.
Are there any local characters to tell us about?
We do have a particularly revolting close neighbour, who we have an ongoing spat with. She is not at all lucid, in truth, and her opinion of us ranges wildly and alters every day. Flitting between us being communists sent to watch her every move, to us working for the Illuminati. Occasionally I am the Antichrist from Europe. It gives us something to do during the down time and she couldn't have chosen better people to mess with really, since we have nothing but time and we do like fun. All the other nearby neighbours have taken restraining orders out on her, but we prefer the more informal approach.
What is a typical day on the ranch like?
Wake up early, coffee, feed animals, catch up with emails and phone calls, post some pointless nonsense on Facebook, go to work or ride, stack hay, give meds to animals, lunch, more emails, nap, feed animals, supper, TV, bed. Knockout!
Do you think you're perceived differently as a musician in the US than in the UK?
If I am not recording or out on tour, I spend so little time playing music in truth. And that has always been the case. I haven't thought about it at all. I think I might have been a bit of a novelty around here, when I first moved close to Athens, with it having such a rich musical heritage and all. But I have only played in town twice since moving here. I played Athens more regularly when I was passing through on tour every year! I do go downtown to work part-time, several days a week, but I'm strictly in and out and don't 'hang out' there for any reason. I'm a regular fixture these days and I'm sure novelty has worn off completely.
You've played and recorded with a lot of amazing people - who would you like to work with?
You of course! I often miss playing and recording with my 'full' band too, and I really hope to be able fit in some of that next year.
You tour a massive amount - do you still enjoy it?
I do still really enjoy it, though the cross-country drives seem to take longer each year. I think it's because I have to stop more to visit places I like to see along the way. Touring is also the only way I get to see my extended family all over the place too, and that is a real treat. For that hour or so that I'm playing, every night is fun in it's own way. It's just everything besides playing, in between, that can get wearing on a long haul. We tend to not tour for as long these days, splitting trips up into shorter stints, simply because we can't leave home for as long with everything treading water here in our absence. I am always glad to go out and have an adventure, but I am glad to get home too.
What do you plan to do next?
More horse rescue related activity (campescohorserescue.com) I expect. Another record is on the cards for sure and some other side projects, as and when they come up. Perhaps some European dates too. It's been a few years since we did a tour over there and it's long overdue. We will be touring on the West Coast here in spring, I believe, since we didn't get to do that at all this year.
Holly can be heard on the Christmas Rules compilation available here:
To find out more information or donate to her Camp Esco Horse Rescue visit:
To find out when Holly’s coming to your town go here