Who is or was Kathy Heideman? The truth is, we still don’t know.
We know quite a bit more about Dia Joyce, the woman behind Move With Love, the unique and unforgettable country-folk-rock masterpiece credited to singer-guitarist Kathy Heideman. Move With Love, it turns out, is essentially a songwriting demo written by Dia Joyce and performed by a band led by Kathy Heideman—in truth, a full-length song poem on LP.
Song poems are what happens when studio pros take lyrics penned by aspiring songwriters and turn them into songs. If you haven’t already, spend some time in search of the informative, frequently hilarious documentary Off The Charts to gain a fuller understanding of this remarkable phenomenon.
As for Dia Joyce: “She was hot. I fell in love with her, very quickly,” Joyce’s partner Julie told us recently. Shortly after meeting in a bar, Dia and Julie hooked up and stayed together for the next 37 years, until Joyce’s passing in 2010. “We were together as lesbians, as a man and wife, everything,” Julie said. Dia Joyce was androgynous. She got a double mastectomy and lived, for a time, as a man, before changing course due to concerns over hormone therapy.
Joyce ran a nursery school before meeting Julie, but retired soon thereafter to concentrate on songwriting and on animal rescue and welfare—her life’s greatest passion. “She felt deeply for any creature that was helpless—including people,” Julie said. Joyce also dabbled in creating the next big thing and did acquire a few patents, including one for a child’s “doll of racial diversity,” as Julie put it, which could be taken apart and reconfigured.
Joyce ditched her doll prototypes eventually, alongside the Move With Love master tapes and her copies of the record. In the days prior to her passing, Joyce was either none too fond of the album, or simply unsatisfied with the record’s near-total obscurity (Vetiver’s 2008 cover of “Sleep A Million Years” notwithstanding)—or perhaps it was a bit from both columns. Joyce was quite ill at the time and wasn’t talking much. And to be honest, Joyce was a bit of a grouch in her lifetime. “She was not a happy person, at all, ever,” according to Julie, who went on to add that “She had happiness, but it wasn’t her normal state.”
“She didn’t like the music business and she had no hustle in her. She didn’t care much about money,” Julie said. Still, it’s interesting to contemplate what might have been had Joyce done a few things differently. At Tiki Studios in San Jose, where Move With Love was cut in a single day, the other in-studio singer was none other than Juice Newton, who’d later rise to fame with “Angel of the Morning” and several other gold-selling records. But even a juicy Newton vocal would’ve surely paled in comparison to the Heideman take on Joyce’s compositions. Her deadpan delivery remains nothing short of indelible, though Heideman’s identity and her story remain occluded by time.
Kathy Heideman, if you’re out there, we’d love to hear from you.
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