Girly-Sound to Guyville Review

I interupt my usual programming to talk about music again…

I’ve loved Liz Phair since Exile in Guyville came out in 1993, and it’s personally frightening that it’s 25 years old because that means I’m old too. My old CD doesn’t play all the way through anymore, so I probably would have bought the reissue anyway, but the addition of the complete Girly-Sound tapes sealed the deal. Not enough to buy it on vinyl, mark you – £70 for five discs seems a little over the mark to me.

ole-1305_liz_phair_girly-sound_to_guyville_1Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Guyville songs are the most recognisable of the old songs, often only lacking the rhythm section added, or changes of tempo. Lyrically, they’re mostly identical, with the odd tweak here and there. “Bomb” differs from its album version, called “Stratford-Upon-Guy”, with a spoken chorus which lends the aeroplane narrative a different reading, and “Fuck and Run” adds a verse from the male perspective which makes it clear that we are to read it as a critique of a whole generation’s dating doublethink, rather than a gender-specific one. Johnny Sunshine changes tempo for every verse instead of dividing the song into two sections, and while I think the album arrangement ultimately works better, it’s a great reminder that just because a piece is working doesn’t mean that it might not work even better if you move the bits around some more. Whip-Smart is hard to get your head around because it is played slower than the album version, and without its swing. I kept humming the bass-line, and it didn’t fit anymore.

But the unfamiliar songs are the real treat, and there are a ton of them here. “White Babies” is built on a variation of “My Bonnie”, and there’s lots of little snippets of pop songs and nursery rhymes that float up and disappear again in these songs, reinforcing the idea of them as private, like Leopold Bloom’s recurring memories of Fleshpots of Egypt and metempsychosis. There are flashes of the dorky humour of Funstyle in places, like the biting reworking of “Wild Thing” or the voices in “Elvis Song” or the juxtapostion of a blue joke with a chorus about leaving town to seek her fortune in “California”. Other standouts include the singalong “In Love w/ Yself”, another meditation on relationships, and “Hello Sailor”, which compares a sailor returning after a dubious foriegn campaign with her own romantic and existential position. But like all her songs, they take a few listens to emerge fully, and I know that I will be returning to these discs often, and there aren’t many reissue bonus tracks I can say that about.

Public Monograph: Day 7

After submitting the manuscript to After World Religions last week, I had to finish my chapter for a forthcoming INFORM/Ashgate volume on New Religions and uncertainty. It was curious: having been asked to supply a short draft of around 3000 words, I was then meant to submit a version closer to 6000. The problem was that I’d kinda done what I wanted in 3000 words… I handed it in short. I like it as it is. And there’s no point in padding.

I put it down to experience. If I’d have written that 5 years ago, it’d have been 7000 words.

Then I turned forty at the weekend. Instead of a party, I invited a couple of my oldest friends for a recording session. In 10 hours, we recorded a version of Dogs by Pink Floyd and two new songs of my composition. I was too tired to record finished vocals, so I won’t share the recordings here yet, but here is visual evidence:

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And yes, that’s a box of Carlsberg.

On monday morning I had two fillings.

So I’m back to the book this morning, happy, but tired. I had an hour or so of sending out emails asking for permission to reproduce various things. Then I went through chapter 6 for about 3 hours, finding an alarming number of typos. Chapter 6 was the chapter I’d had most problems with when I wrote my PhD, and so is the one I’m most concerned with improving. But also the one that’s most daunting.

Two weeks to go.

Hip-hop UFOs

Found this on worldstarhiphop.com (although I couldn’t get it to embed, so this is a youtube version):

I’m certain some of those UFO videos are faked (the Jerusalem one for sure) and some are simply lenticular clouds, but still interesting. “They’re hyper-dimensional beings…” is a recurrent theme, I’m finding. What’s even more interesting is that this came not from a conspiracist site, but a hip-hop site. There seems to be a great many examples of these themes appearing in popular music lately; and the hip-hop link shows that metaphysical conspiricism is certainly not a purely white and middle-class concern these days, if it ever was.