overhaul / undertow

Thursday, September 19, 2002

"( )"

How do you quote an instrumental interlude?

I often quote song lyrics I love on this page, but how do you refer people to a bit of music that can't be expressed as text?

Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville is a striking and quality piece of work all around, but it's her quieter songs on this album--the less rockin' ones--that have caught my heart. and the last song....that last one.....

The whole album seems to traverse the negotiation between where she ends and others begin, making peace or settling affairs with those who've dicked her around (in ways every woman, and I'm sure most men can relate to), expressing genuine sexuality--with all its emotional and lustful elements--in a really honest manner, and exhuming the buried ways in which she negates herself and discounts her hurts. All those slings and arrows of fate, and of the pain that can blossom between people.

And the last song ends in this spiraling instrumental, panning out from the whole scene of what's been said in the album, to a broader view that takes in the entirety of her life. You see her assess the moods and whims and crazy passions of the moment, captured like a snapshot in each song on the album, and then it's as if she realizes that they will fade to a sepia shade at time goes on; and as the instrumental kicks in, you see her get in her car and hit the road (as she does, in her second album--"Go West" is an amazing song), leaving behind the bittersweet bits that she's swept up into this disc.

As the guitar rocks calmly along, it becomes immersed in discordance, noodling and crashing, all threatening to overwhelm the steel guitar's pretty song, which seems to be happily singing to itself like a child, even though it becomes briefly tangled and enturbulated in the noisy wake. But it persists, and keeps on keeping on, until the noise crashes and fades and dies, exhausting itself, and there she still is, just the guitar, calmly and honestly still playing the same melody, unadulterated. And she ends it off with a little flourish, on her own terms, when she feels like it; a period at the end of a musical sentence that intimates more trials, noise and confusion may come in the future, or they may not; but for now, this is the chapters' end--and it's all her own. In this story of a piece of a life, she is the theme. She is the line that binds it all together. She's lost her way from time to time but has come through.

I can relate.


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