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Relating To Elizabeth Fraser

Treasure by the Cocteau Twins album art Cocteau Twins former vocalist Elizabeth Fraser’s first interview since the band broke up in 1998 was published a few days ago at the Guardian UK. I learned that she and guitarist Robin Guthrie had been lovers throughout the band’s history, and that they had a daughter together, and that dealing with spending time with Guthrie again kept Fraser from participating in a planned reunion of the band in 2005. I learned that she had a creative and… something more..? relationship with Jeff Buckley shortly before his tragic death.

In the article, Fraser is open and revealing and achingly honest. I’ve always loved those early 4AD records, especially “Treasure” — they form part of the soundtrack for a particularly formative, particularly eventful and particularly painful part of my life. Discovering that so much of that music was a collaboration between lovers struck a chord with me.

I’ve collaborated with two women I was in relationships with. One was of the long-term, live-together, make-plans variety. The other was a bit more… undefined. My experience with both was passionate and volatile and painful. But with both, the times we sat alone together in a living room or bedroom with guitars and notepads and tape recorders include some of my favorite memories.

Just about the most sublime thing you can do if you’re a musician is create music with the person you love. It sure can complicate things when the music making survives the relationship, though. That’s what happened to me, and that’s what happened to Fraser, too. So I feel for her.

Music is the only creative endeavor where I’ve had a lover as a collaborator. I can say that being in a band with a girlfriend was a roller coaster for me… lots of ups and downs… but if I had the opportunity to get in line and get on that ride with my wife (who is not creative in the same ways I am) tomorrow, I’d risk it for the thrill and the potential for beauty.

I’d like to hear from some other creatives: writers, artists, actors, other musicians. What’s your experience been, making art with your significant other?

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