April 28, 2008

Cat Power

Cross Bones Style was the first song I ever heard from Cat Power (aka Charlyn "Chan" Marshall).

I came across it on Matador Records' 10th Anniversary Anthology, Everything is Nice.

This best-of disc was f**king amazing in and of itself -- you couldn’t throw a stone (or swing a cat) without hitting one awesome act after another.

Yet, even nestled as it was amongst songs from Pavement, Bardo Pond, Sleater-Kinney, Mogwai (to name but a few), "Cross Bones Style" -- with its odd staccato drum beat and elegiac, keening quality -- stood out by a mile.

Nearly a full decade later it still feels truly fresh and original to me. Outside of time, somehow.

Listen to that voice.

It sounds as though it's been cured in whiskey and wine and tobacco. In sorrow and heartache and too much knowledge of too many things in too short a time.

All these years, I never knew what Chan Marshall looked like. I’m not sure how that’s possible in this age of the interwebs, but it’s true. Judging from her voice, I’d always imagined her to be older: a kind of grandmother of rock, à la Patti Smith. (To clarify, it's not that I thought she sounded old, per se. But more that her voice had a kind of lived in quality. It seemed to speak of experience and a hard-earned wisdom.)

Imagine my shock, then, when I saw her video recently for "Cross Bones Style":

How do you reconcile that face with that voice?

It's paradoxical and confusing and I guess somehow perfect for an artist who has always managed to surprise, bewilder and charm us.

Her voice is as ageless as her art.

(And I added "Nude as the News". Just because.)

[Cat Power - MySpace]


Paloma said...

this is my favourite song by one of my favourite artists...but forget her face, what's with the half-dancing video? that is not how i pictured the song.

kirsten said...

Is it some kind of ironic 80s aesthetic, do you think?

But I totally agree with you. The video is completely incongruous with the song.

Paloma said...

apparently yeah - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjWGjT5fP24

kirsten said...

Ooooh, that's hilarious...

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