This is, in the world of too-invested Rolling Stones fans, controversial. Mainly because Keith doesn’t like it. Man, Keith really hates this song! There’s like a whole paragraph in his book about what a disgrace it is. Why? Because they used a drum loop. The Rolling Stones never use drum loops! Apparently it’s a sore point that Mick Jagger wanted to bring in The Dust Brothers to produce Bridges to Babylon, Keith hated the direction they were going in, and they were fired from the record. But not before several songs were produced featuring such ungodly innovations as looping and samples. Keith has a point that there’s absolutely no reason to use a drum loop when you have Charlie, but I don’t think it’s really as terrible as he thinks it is. I think it’s actually a pretty good song, just not fully playing to the Rolling Stones’ biggest strengths. Oh well, that’s why Mick Jagger gets to make solo albums.
Ah, phantom limb syndrome, a common and popular topic for songwriters since the dawn of times. And a great metaphor for other things in life. Not to make fun, though. It’s actually a deeply unusual choice of topic and a fresh metaphor for other things in life. Which is why Suzanne Vega is such a great writer. She makes connections that are surprising but makes complete sense. Losing parts of yourself physically is something most people will likely never have to go through, aside from garden variety declining vision and hearing loss, but it’s a near-universal fear. Losing less tangible parts of ourselves, on the other hand, is just about inevitable. We lose our innocence, we lose idealism, we lose things and people we love, we lose large chunks of our sanity. And just like people whose brain still sends commands to body parts that are no longer there, we go on mentally interacting with people who are out of our lives, reaching for possessions we’ve lost, and reliving old memories, whether we like doing those things or not.
Well, this is nothing if not campy. Circa 1991, Marc Almond decks the halls in the last dregs of 80’s excess. The shows he puts on today are very slick and big budget; only the best in S&M tinged choreography and scantily clad dancers. Meanwhile, back at the dawn of the 80’s Almond was briefly in a ‘supergroup’ with Nick Cave. Immaculate Consumptives existed for less than a week, but what more credibility does a guy need to show he was truly one of the coolest kids? Almond has worn many hats, image-wise, and throughout it all, he’s shown himself to be a very smart curator of camp culture.
“This is the part of me that needs medication…”
Could this be a song about depression? It’s pretty dang depressing. Though if you get through the slow beginning there’s a melodic middle part. Then it becomes depressing again. Depressing stuff aside, there’s good news in the world of people who love bad news. A new Modest Mouse album should be upon us next month, supposedly. They’ve been dangling that carrot in front of us for a few years now, but this time it’s totally official. There are even new singles on the radio! Strangers to Ourselves is due on March 17. They’ve been working on it since 2007, so it had better be spectacular. Or at least moderately good. Or, what the hell, let it be total crap, just release it already!
Voodoo Lounge, everybody, Voodoo Lounge. An album I can’t pretend to make an objective judgement of, since it’s one of the most formative musical moments of my young life. It’s the first Rolling Stones album, in my life, that very noticeably did not exist until suddenly, it did. I would’ve been 11 years old at the time, which is a most impressionable age, (and a great time to become a Rolling Stones fan.) If the Stones had made a terrible album at that moment, I would still be in love with that too. But I think, all sentiment aside, Voodoo Lounge is a pretty great album. This song still sounds fresh and, yes, mean.
I’ll just leave this here with no comment except to say that this is the single most chilling and uncomfortable song anyone has ever written, and Tori Amos deserves the deepest respect for having had the courage to write it.
Mazzy Star was like a gem of the 90’s. A diamond in the rough, to borrow a phrase from a Disney movie. Now that all of us who grew up in that decade are old enough to experience nostalgia for it, maybe we can hope for a resurgence of Mazzy Star. It’s unlikely there’s ever going to be an extravagant comeback; the group dissolved because singer Hope Sandoval wasn’t cut out for the whole rock star thing. She is shy and dislikes performing. If she felt uncomfortable with the pressure and scrutiny of fame in the 90’s, I’m sure she wants to avoid today’s infinitely crazier fame environment at all costs. So don’t expect any future victory rounds of talk shows and festivals. However, there’s no reason we can’t hold Sandoval up as a nostalgic style icon. She could have been a fashion darling, but of course that’s not her thing. Still, she exemplified the style of the times, as it pertains to certain kinds of waify grunge and post-grunge ladies. She’s so not fashion she’s fashion.