Recording singles for a variety of record labels throughout the 1960’s and doing backing vocals on recordings by the likes of Dusty Springfield, Tim Hardin, and Donovan, she eventually crossed paths with Elton John. So enamored of her song “Love Song” was he that he recorded it on his third album, “Tumbleweed Connection”, and had a minor hit with it. Duncan also sang on the track and played acoustic guitar. Since then, “Love Song” has been covered over 150 times, including versions by David Bowie and Olivia Newton-John. Duncan’s own version was included on her first full length album “Sing Children Sing” in 1971.
Earth Mother followed the next year, notable for the title song (a nearly 7 minute ecological suite) and “The Fortieth Floor”, an especially scathing commentary on record company executives and the machinery of the music business. The song, as it turned out, was a very honest summation of how she related to her music career. In an interview circa 1975, she states “As far as I’m concerned, I’ve made it, in the sense that I’ve got a place to live and a car. Any more would be excessive and I’m very content with what I’ve got now.” By 1977, she would quit the music business almost completely, deciding that she was not interested in “chasing stardom.” Three more albums would be issued before that decision, however, including “Everything Changes” (my favorite of hers, overall), “Moon Bathing”, and “Maybe It’s Lost”. Along the way, she also sang backing vocals on Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and provided a lead vocal on the Alan Parsons Project’s “Eve” album, and Michael Chapman’s “Life on the Ceiling” album (I’ll be posting some stuff on Michael Chapman in the future, as he’s great).
A few singles would pop up after her early “retirement”, including a benefit collaboration with Kate Bush and others on a re-recording of her “Sing Children Sing” song, and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” in 1982. By the late 1980’s, she’d all but disappeared, living a happy life in obscurity in Cornwall and eventually on Scotland’s Isle of Mull until her death last year, of cerebrovascular disease.