Interview with Linda Dunn - Conducted by Diane Wilkes
I caught up with singer-songwriter extraordinaire Linda Dunn at The Point, a club on the outskirts of Philadelphia. I had often seen the club's logo, an eye in the middle of a triangle, without even thinking of the occult reference. Linda observed and commented on it right away--her quick mind and thoughtful insights have made her Tarot-l posts "keepers".
She's a bit too busy right now to contribute on tarot lists--she is on the road, performing with Robert Horne...maybe at a spot near you. She's not only tarot knowledgeable, she puts on a terrific show, so if she comes to your town...go. You don't want to miss her rendition of "78 Degrees", a song in the form of a letter from the point of view of Lady Frieda Harris as she completes the art for the Thoth deck.
We conducted the interview as we looked admiringly at Chris Paradis' Rock and Roll Tarot--how apropos--and our conversation took many byways...including a rock musical she and musical partner Robert Horne are writing about...well, you'll see soon enough.
Diane: Tell us a little bit about the rock musical you're writing about the Golden Dawn.
Linda: Well, we're taking the major players in the Golden Dawn and we're fictionalizing them--we're never saying it's the Golden Dawn and it's set in present day. It takes these people from the time they're in college and until ten years later. We're not ever mentioning that it's the Golden Dawn, but people who know will know. These same patterns repeat over and over. People will know that Francesca is Florence Farr and Alex is Crowley. By doing it this way, we have artistic license to change it.
Maud Gonne's character is like a hippie activist folksinger. We've done about half the music and some people are interested in putting it on--a workshop version of it, anyway. There won't be a lot of tarot in it, but we've weaved a lot of different things through it. One character is a goetic spirit who got trapped in their house. He's in the whole show, but none of the characters see him--only the audience.
It's going to be for a four-piece band and a three-piece chorus. It's called Magick.
Diane: With a "k"?
Linda: Oh yeah, it has to be with a "k". I think the tarot song ("78 Degrees") was the one which pushed me towards doing the musical. You think unconsciously, "As a songwriter, I have to write my love song, my mad authority song..." I reached a point where I asked myself, "What am I interested in? I'll write a song about that." "78 Degrees" was the first song I did that with and it turned out really well, so then we started working on Magick.
Diane: You put out an album, Linda Dunn, a year or so ago...
Linda: Robert and I started working heavily together after the album came out...It sounds like a cliche, but what we are doing now is so much more what we want to do. We've started working on a second album and we're doing it ourselves.
Diane: Well, I want a copy of "78 Degrees" as soon as it comes out...
Linda: I'll send you an MP3 when it's done--you can have an exclusive for your site if you want. That's the song we've been getting the best response with, I think because it is different. People who wouldn't normally be open to things like that like it because it's a story, I think. Those letters (from Frieda Harris to Aleister Crowley) were really inspirational and I was reading them at just the right time.
People who've inspired me are people like Kate Bush, Elton John, Billy Joel, people like that, and it's because they write songs about strange things. Tori Amos is another one, but she's more in the introspective, let-me-open-my journal vein, which is great because she does it so well. It's only bad when it's done...badly.
But people who will write songs about anything, unusual things--Elton John has that great song about flying saucers and alien abductions and it works. Robert, even more so than I, is very theatrical, so writing a musical was something we were both interested in. And when we were deciding what to do it about, I was reading Mary Greer's book (Women of the Golden Dawn), and I thought, "We should really do it about this." And Robert thought it was a great idea.
We've put all sorts of styles of music in there, too. We've got some regular show-type stuff, and we've got some more bizarre, Eastern stuff, too.
I have to be very careful about talking about things I'm working on, because it goes away. It's almost like your brain keeps it until it gets out, and then it makes room for new stuff. Your brain doesn't care if you talk about it or you've created it...it's just gone.
Diane: What other projects are you working on?
Linda: One that fell into our lap is kind-of bizarre. Robert and I both take yoga, and our teacher wanted to do a yoga nidra, which is verbal relaxation instruction. Most of the tapes that are out aren't really geared for a western audience. So, my yoga teacher said, "Why don't you do the music and we'll put it out."
Diane: How did you become involved in the tarot?
Linda: When I was about seven, I found a copy of the IJJ Swiss deck in an antique store, and my mother told me she'd buy it for me if I could find out if all the cards were there. I went to the bookstore and found the one book they had on tarot--it was that yellow hardback book by Stuart Kaplan. When I counted the cards, there were 78, so she bought it for me.
I learned how to read them, and I'd read for the neighborhood kids...Then I got away from it for years and years, and then I just got back into it. With the synchronicity that goes on, around that time, someone I had become really close friends with said, "You know, I read tarot," and turned out she wasn't telling me because of my song, "Mickey Mouse Pseudo Zen" (a song that mocks new-age fluff-bunnies whose business practices don't equate with spirituality).
I can't read for myself, but I still do. What I get when I read for myself, it's more like a meditation thing than a "Tell me about the future" thing. But I think even when you read for other people, the real value of a tarot reading is not predicting the future, it's telling you what is happening now. And if you can pin that down, you know what the future is gonna be.
I may not want to predict the future when I do readings, but it was clear after seeing Linda Dunn in concert that she's bound for musical glory. Check out Linda's tour dates and other great stuff on her site.
Download the 78 Degrees" MP3.
See the lyrics for "78 Degrees" here.
Interview and page © 2001 Diane Wilkes