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Wayward – Just Another Life to Live

Vashti Bunyan

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  • White Rabbit Books
  • 2022
  • ISBN 9781474621939
  • 240 pages
  • Hardcover
  • 22 × 15 × 3 cm

In 1968, Vashti Bunyan gave up everything and everybody she knew in London to take to the road with a horse, wagon, dog, guitar and her then partner.

They made the long journey up to the Outer Hebrides in an odyssey of discovery and heartbreak, full of the joy of freedom and the trudge of everyday reality, sleeping in the woods, fighting freezing winters and homelessness.

Along the way, Vashti wrote the songs that would lead to the recording of her 1970’s album Just Another Diamond Day, the lilting lyrics and guitar conveying innocent wonder at the world around her, whilst disguising a deeper turmoil under the surface.

From an unconventional childhood in post-war London, to a fledgling career in mid-sixties pop – recording a single written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – to the despair and failure to make any headway with her own songs, she rejected the music world altogether and left it all behind. After retreating to a musical wilderness for thirty years, the rediscovery of her recordings in 2000 brought Vashti a second chance to write, record and perform once more.

One of the great hippie myths of the 1960s, Wayward, Just Another Life to Live, rewrites the narrative of a barefoot girl on the road to describe a life lived at full tilt from the first, revealing what it means to change course and her emotional struggle, learning to take back control of her own life.

Praise:

This is a magical and transporting memoir, relating how Bunyan ducked out of the London music scene, instead choosing to make her way – by foot and wagon – to the Outer Hebrides. Her mesmerising viewpoint and lyrical outlook on life will be familiar to anyone who, like me, loves her music, but Wayward proves that Bunyan has lived the best possible life, on her own idiosyncratic terms. – Maggie O’Farrell

This simply beautiful memoir cast the same spell on me as Vashti Bunyan’s music. Her account of a legendary road-trip taken at horse pace through a gone England is hedgerow rich in vivid detail. But this is no nostalgia piece: Bunyan is needle-sharp on the way so many men tried to cut her – and her songs – down to size: essential reading for women in the arts now. I read the last pages through tears, deeply moved by the wilder life she embarked on, step by step, song by song. If you loved Patti Smith’s Just Kids then you need to read Wayward next. – Tanya Shadrick, author of The Cure for Sleep

A gorgeous account of outsiderness and survival: a map of how to live outside the boundaries and of striving for an authentic artistic life. A quietly defiant and moving work. – Sinéad Gleeson

Vashti Bunyan possesses one of the purest voices English music has ever produced, and now that unique otherness translates to literature. Wayward is an epic in miniature, a mythical tale with echoes of her ancestor John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, made all the more magical by the fact it actually happened. I loved – and lived – every sentence. – Benjamin Myers

Bunyan weaves her captivating nomad’s tale with a rambler’s eye for detail and a dreamer’s visionary ambition. Her perpetual search for utopia, and the experiences behind her songs of innocence, are romantic and revelatory. – Rob Young

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