Saturday, December 17, 2011

Self-loathing with a little wink

I was poking about the internet the other day, and I came upon some old digests from the Juliana Hatfield mailing list. They were from August, and those were the most recent I had, since my Yahoo mailbox filled up shortly thereafter, and I guess I was automatically unsubscribed from the list. Apparently, Juliana had a new record out in August ... I can't believe I missed it. I'm such a superfan that I usually get records from my heroes on, like, the first day of release, so that I can in my own way join a club, the club of defeated fans of 90s lady rockers who still hold out hope that their favorite artists will crack the Billboard 100. Why wasn't I checking that mailbox? I assume it was because I was really busy.

I downloaded the record today (this is a limited release, and physical cds are sold out already) and was sort of blown away and really moved, much to my surprise. It's beautiful and it rocks, sort of like Rolling Stones-style grooves crossed with California pop, all sung by a little girl voice that blames you, that is in crisis, that purposefully diminishes the singer's accomplishments. It's self-loathing set to music. It's kind of chillingly perfect, actually. There hasn't been a Juliana record that surprised me since "God's Foot," which was never even released. I'd long since given up hope that she could teach me anything (even though my song "I get the craziest feeling" has the same number of syllables in places as her song "Feel it." That's my usual homage style ... I just rip off the rhythm of the song and change the melody and lyrics ... and then it's a whole new song! Sort of like the Donna "sew on some sequins and make it a whole new look!" Karan school of songwriting).

I love the cover. Juliana always gets naked for her record covers, I feel. But with no airbrushing. A nude photo of someone whose weight fluctuates as wildly as hers does can be somewhat shocking to behold. See? Self-loathing with a little wink. "Macabre" is probably a good word for Juliana's schtick.

I'm recording "I get the craziest feeling" soon, with my superband of Chris on drums and Matt on bass (if he's still speaking to me), along with three other songs. And then I'm either going to record some more or put out six songs as an e.p. I will call it "Joy," though it will contain no real succor. Since I'm recording again, I'm paying a little more attention to the music world these days. But no one moves me, sigh. I'm old, that's probably why! (That's a song!) My most enduring musical emotional attachments were formed before I was 20 years old, with notable exceptions. That's why I'm always waiting for a good Sinead O'Connor record again, or a good Liz Phair record. Both of them apparently have new music coming out soon. How will I feel if they both rock again? Maybe I will feel that I rock again, that I have been vindicated. (But ultimately for naught, as neither of them will ever sell a lot of records again, and no one will ever hear of my own self-release when I put it out). Perhaps I will be transported back in time to Jones Beach in '91, seeing Sinead O'Connor (my second concert ever ... the first was the "Blonde Ambition tour by Madonna) and secretly loving the tousled-haired waifish boys who clung to that kind of genre-defying music, though feeling like I was too fat to ever really be seen by them. I still feel too fat to do most anything, but I always will, so that's okay.

Needless to say, I will be fully clothed for my record cover. But maybe it will be a closeup of my big head crying, like that Sinead O'Connor record.

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