Liz Phair 09. 25.03
Happy birthday Ellen H., Leah W.
I am very happy for Liz Phair and my happiness means nothing to her, of course. But I was listening to some of the songs from her latest effort, Liz Phair. And it makes me think about how long I have been seriously listening to music, and how cool it was to listen to Exile in Guyville back in the day. And of course how I told everyone what I would do when I met Liz Phair. In fantasy there would be a lot of sex and falling off the bed. In reality it would have been much more like Paul Barman said, expect bad sex and slapstick.
That was high school. Ms. Phair’s first album was widely owned and traded around the school. And yet I remember that feeling that this album, the way she told specific stories, the way she knew it was fuck and run even when she was 12, told a lesser publicized story about how boys and girls were living. It wasn’t any different than any other generation’s “artist with salacious tale.” But this was our story. And Ms. Liz Phair was subtle in voice yet stark + direct with words.
Of course I remember hearing that she wasn’t making bank. And for the effort on the first and the second album?
So she mainstreamed the sound and she’s come to this Liz Phair album to make cheddar. It’s fine, poppy. I love pop music. It has all the necessary quirks for the radio, you can sing along with it, she’s a little dirtier than average, we can relate to being breathless and wanting to get some.
In the same way I relate to Sheryl Crow and Faith Hill and such. I understand, I can put myself in that place, but the specifics are for me to create from generalities. I, You, Love, Baby, All Night. Fill in your details. We can rock out to the anthems all together. She can throw in a couple of pop culture mentions to make the song slightly different from Jewel’s offering and to tie it to our lives—thank you for the X-Box playing boyfriend character, Ms. Phair, I love video games!
But without those bitter stories that make us sit in diners and in hallways and on subways asking, “did you hear what happened to her?” and “I wonder if she’s creepy to be around in person?” there is nothing different between Liz and the rest of the semi-sassy women on the radio dial. She can't fault me for being cheesy and reminiscing. I can’t fault her for changing her sound, or for not mining more traumatizing relationship memories. One can only do that for so long or turn into Johnny Cash, may he rest in peace.