14
Sep 06

Poptimism – Lesson Fourteen – supplement

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Ed: here’s Anthony’s track-by-track commentary for his podcast

Walk on By — Dionne Warwick
Crying in the street when one sees an ex doesn’t seem to be the best example of control, but how she lays ground rules here, how she sings words like private or stop, or even walk on by, has a restraint and devotion that avoids passive aggression or desperation. It also makes the song much sadder than it could have been.

Buck Owens — Big In Vegas
Where Owens talks about failing after “trying to play and sing in Vegas” each word has a caution, desperation and delusion.

Baby, Lets Have A Baby Before Bush do Something Crazy – Coup
Here, Pam the Funkstress, chooses life over terror and fear. The intensity of the work is personal, between two lovers the audience is ignored.

Borderline – Madonna
The opening music box notes, and the ambiguity, does she want to be finished or just have things beginning? There is rawness here, and the electronics that surround her weak voice have a taut sparseness

Northern Star—Hole
An iconic, broken and exhausted song, the closest Love got to explain exactly how she felt about her own chaos.

Anything But Mine – Kenny Chesney
I have written about this song, maybe a dozen times. I love it
unconditionally, and every time I hear it, I get caught on the verge
of tears, sometimes past the verge. I don’t know why, but I think its
because Kenny is doing his best to be ambiguous and almost cruel in
places, and he so underplays his hand. The song is about sex, but hes
too polite to tell us that.

Theme from The Valley of the Dolls — kd lang
kd continues her reclaiming of highly gendered songs, sung almost ironically. The problem with kd and irony, is that she also seems to believe in the work, so we have a camp, over produced, deconstructed cover that contains at its heart, a love for singers and materials. She also has a voice that is impossible to belt.

Hard Candy Christmas — Dolly Parton
When Dolly sings low and under accompanied, the sheer power of her voice overwhelms, add the most depressing holiday song ever written, and it’s a force of nature.

I’ve Never Been to Me — Charlene
The consequences of pleasure have rarely been written better, and the interesting bit is the verse where she stops singing, and the production ratchets down, and starts talking about the power of domesticity.

He’s Sure the Boy I Love — The Crystals
Restraint in another way, though the singing is as hysterical as the crystals have ever been, and even with the talking the beginning, there is nothing quiet here. Except the message of the lyrics, a sort of corrective to No Scrubs or other bling Anthems, and a genuine discussion of love even if all “he has is unemployment cheques”

Rent — Liza
An incredible song, moving slowly across the landscape, likes an esker boulder. The best thing about the song is that we are unsure what the phrase “I Loved You, You Paid My Rent” means: is Liza a whore, did she really love him, what is the punctuation between those two clauses.

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