Holly Golightly - Biography
For the record: Holly Golightly was born Holly Golightly Smith, in the midst of Swinging London, in 1966. Yes, her mother really did have the wildly prescient foresight to name her daughter after the prostitute in Truman Capote’s arch Breakfast at Tiffany’s, ensuring that Holly would have an all-time great rock ‘n’ roll moniker. However, Holly still had to begin her path to stardom in relative anonymity. Her boyfriend Bruce Brand was the drummer in Thee Headscoatees, which was a mostly female subset of Billy Childish’s primary band, Thee Headcoats, in which Brand was also the drummer. Thee Headcoats had been founded in 1989 by Childish and Brand, but Childish was as adept at writing three-chord garage rock as he was at performing it. Burdened with a surplus of songs, Childish took a vaguely Spector-esque route, and in 1991 created Thee Headcoatees. They were meant to sing his material and look good on stage, but Holly Golightly had a crisp ear for rock ‘n’ roll, R&B and country blues. She would appear on several rollicking albums with Thee Headcoatees, including: Girlsville (1991 Hangman Records); Have Love, Will Travel (1992 Vinyl Japan); Ballad of an Insolent Pup (1994 Vinyl Japan); Bozstik Haze (1997 Vinyl Japan); Punk Girls (1997 Sympathy for the Record Industry); Taylor Meets Thee Headcoatees (1998 Lissy’s Records); and Here Comes Cessation (1999 Vinyl Japan). Golightly’s vocals and chops shone from LP to LP, and on a constellation of singles. Before long, she was more than ready to take impressive strides as a solo artist.
Actually, Golightly embarked on a witheringly effective series of albums while The Headcoatees were still extant. It diminished neither project, and confirmed she could match Billy Childish’s notorious productivity blow for blow. There are moments of gritty proto-rock bliss to be found on The Good Things (1995 Damaged Goods) and The Main Attraction (1996 Damaged Goods), as well as Laugh It Up (1996 Vinyl Japan), Painted On (1997 Sympathy for the Record Industry), and the raucous concert album, Up the Empire (1998 Sympathy for the Record Industry). One of the better slabs of vinyl from this early period is the caustically titled, Serial Girlfriend (1998 Damaged Goods), which revels in a cover of the Ike Turner classic, “Your Love Is Mine.” In 2000, Golightly teamed with longtime Headcoats collaborator Dan Melchior on Desperate Little Town (2001 Sympathy for the Record Industry). It’s an evocative work, full of acoustic grit and imagination and vivid chemistry.
Holly Golightly’s public profile got a significant boost in 2003, when cultural gadfly Jack White tabbed her to appear on a duet with his ubiquitous band, the White Stripes. Golightly’s vocals on “It’s True That We Love One Another” are one of the highlights on the critically acclaimed album, Elephant (2003 V2 Records); she and White close the set with a spirited back-and-forth, joking and cajoling and calling each other by name. Another high-profile opportunity came with Broken Flowers, the award-winning Jim Jarmusch film that starred Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Sharon Stone; Holly worked with irrepressible Clevelanders the Greenhorns and contributed the songs “There Is an End” and “Tell Me Now So I Know” (the latter is a Ray Davies cover). Since 2007, Golightly has been engaged in a duo with long-time creative partner Lawyer Dave, performing as Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs. They’ve recorded a couple of supremely satisfying collections of taut, raw, strident compositions: You Can’t Buy a Gun When You’re Crying (2007 Damaged Goods) and Dirt Don’t Hurt (2008 Transdreamer Records). These most recent chunks of raw Americana and front-porch gristle are far removed from the girl-group vibe of the Childish-era material, but they wonderfully demonstrate Holly Golightly’s merits as an artist in her own right.