Hollywood Bowl. Last night. Ray LaMontagne. And every woman in the audience was thinking the same thing…
Born in June of 1973, not much is known about the uber-private RLM. Sources report that RLM’s father was a violent musician who eventually left RLM’s mother and her six children behind. RLM’s mother, who was a 15 year-old runaway when she first got pregnant, moved like a nomad from place to place in order to feed her 6 children. As a result RLM was always the new kid on the block, often sleeping in tents and cars for long stretches of time. RLM spurned music and school to go read fantasy books in the woods and to escape his pain through drugs. Barely graduating high school due to his introverted personality, RLM moved to Maine after graduation to go work in a shoe factory. One day, as he was waking up for the morning shift, he heard Stephen Stills, started listening to his music. and forever changed his life. He quit his job, began expressing his own pain through songwriting, and like finding God, realized that there was something out there for him besides tragedy. The rest as they say, is history.
RLM is not a handsome man. With his beak nose and harsh, melancholy features, he reminds me of a tragic character from a Dostoevsky novel. And yet, he’s a chick magnet. He’s got a great voice that digs down deep and his subject matter, salvation, love, desperation – it hits you in the gut and stays there, reverberating around like a thunderstorm on a sweltering, summer night. Listening to him at the Hollywood Bowl was like taking a deep breath, resetting the course, and prioritizing what’s important. How does one voice do that? It’s not just the voice, it’s the lyrics too.
On KCRW this morning, RLM discussed playing last night with the Hollywood Bowl orchestra. Even in the studio he’s hesitant, awkward, and shy. When he sings however, the veil falls and the feelings of his heart pour out. Ray LaMontagne lives in Maine with his wife and two sons.