Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Anatomy of a Mixed Tape, Track the Eleventh

11. Lived in Bars—Cat Power

Cat Power - The Greatest - Lived In Bars

I am not, like some I know, an ardent Cat Power fan. She has some great songs, and a husky, distinct voice—but I often find her “downness” and fragility—especially on stage—a bit distracting and overwrought. To be fair, I haven’t listed to her earliest albums, What Would the Community Think? and Moon Pix, but I have listened closely to her two most recent records, You Are Free and The Greatest.

The former is definitely the “downer” of the two; I listened to it over and again when I was on Antarctica. (That, however, probably says more about me at the time than it does the album.) It’s good, but avoid it like the plague if it’s a nice day out; it’ll end any happy feeling you’re having post-haste.

The latter, from which the song “Lived in Bars” hails, is a bit more “up.” Or at least, if not “up,” more enjoyable: there’s a big difference between sad and moody in your darkened bedroom and sad and moody in a low-lit Memphis bar, the neon jukebox bubbles floating up slow.

The first verse says it all:

We’ve lived in bars
And danced on tables
Hotel trains and ships that sail
We swim with sharks
And fly with aeroplanes in the air

It’s a weary song, but not without a bit of tired-smile nostalgia for the past—which picks up and takes flight, backed by Memphis horns and a girl-group doo-wop finish, up tempo now, as it nears the end.

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