Amy Ray is a harmonizer. She sings to get along. She even agreed to sit down with two fast talkers called Junebug and Hurricane—one a bitter old Yankee, the other an original Southerner young enough to know better. With these two it was good thing Amy Ray has what we call "a listening voice." We nearly talked her ear off. But that rich, calm and ever-yearning tone—the butch voice of Amy Ray—kept it all together.
We started late on a too-hot and blistering day in downtown Manhattan. Amy Ray was exhausted, on the road, just finishing an interview for WNYC public radio: a perfect venue that suits Ray's call out into the wilderness of the nation across the radio waves, those waves mixing with her presence on Youtube and, most recently, on vinyl. Her new album Lung of Love, which we review here, has been in our ears and on our tongues for some time now. It was, for us, a relief to finally sit down and hash out some of our ideas and inspirations with our faithful co-conspirator.
"Do people call you ma'am?"
Amy Ray: "Really polite southern boys, always."
Imagine the three of us seated in a deserted deli called "Jazzy's" on Manhattan's lower west side: a menopausal Hurricane, a dumbstruck Junebug and our dear Amy Ray: three queers who know what it feels like to be out of time, who know something about lives of humidity, futility and queer belatedness.
Amy Ray says she's always been "a little behind." She recalls how meeting the members of the Durham-based band The Butchies in the late 1990s radicalized her, helped her figure out "where [she] was coming from, but didn't even know it."
She describes this consolidation-through-community as active intuition: becoming aware of herself, overcoming a more staid, middle-classness by learning how to join in and move in step with queer community.
Amy Ray shuttles between going out—the road—and sticking to her place. A resident of a rural north Georgia town—an expatriate Atlantan—she has dreams of hosting queer salons on her own turf. Migration, a journey, every-changing formation across boundaries, is the main theme in Lung of Love. This latest formation picks up flight from songs like "Birds of a Feather," with its plaintive,"If we are birds of a feather//Why can't we migrate?"
Ray loves community—being in a band, if not being