Friday, February 19, 2010

My Life in Music: Cat Power

July 2000: Road trip to visit my friends Brian and Afua in Chapel Hill for my twentieth (twenty-first?) birthday.  

Honestly, I can't remember if it was 2000 or 2001.  That was almost a decade ago, so things get hazy.  

I insisted on a stop at a Franklin Street record store for Moon Pix, Cat Power's fourth album, but first to me.  Cat Power captured my heart with "You May Know Him" and a cover of "Moonshiner" I heard in some random corner of the internet.  I was obsessed with discovering new music at that time, and she was my favorite new sound.  I couldn't wait to get home and share the cd with Gregg, so it must have been 2001.  

Photo by Stefano Giovannini
 Cat Power/Chan Marshall's voice had that bit of a raw an edge, a quirk that many turn away from on first listen, but it is what reached through those tiny computer speakers and tugged at my heart.  I remember crying upon first listen of both those songs.  Back then, when I actually traveled to record stores to buy actual RECORDS (meaning VINYL for you young folks), music was such a different experience.  I still relive that through Gregg's record collection, but that's a story (and such a story) for another day, my friends. 

Now, I present you with Cat Power's "You May Know Him" and "Moonshiner" (traditional tune of unknown origins, but famously performed by Bob Dylan in '63):

Fast forward to 2006.  Boone, North Carolina.  My boyfriend is always on top of everything in the music world and he keeps up with all the new releases of our favorite musicians.  I can't keep up with things like this, and I can't stand to miss an album by a month or two, so I am very thankful for him. Cat Power released a new album, but he was uncertain if we would like it because she went in a new direction with different arrangements and a whole band, plus there were none of her famous covers.  The first time or two that I heard it I didn't really like it.  I remember saying to Gregg that it hadn't captured me in the way her previous albums had.  Gregg agreed, but he said he had a feeling it was one of those albums that sneaks up on you when you least expect it.

We started listening to the album on the way to Mount Airy and with the third listen, I was captivated. Since then, The Greatest has blown my mind more and more each time I hear it. On first listen, it didn't grab me because of the distinct difference, but now, now it is such a story, such an experience.  I felt that she, Chan Marshall being her real name, had slipped into another place and went somewhere dark, and I discovered a new aspect of the album each time I heard it.  It was only recently that I read about the breakdown she had after that album, and felt like I somehow could see it coming when I listened.  It is one of those albums, like PJ Harvey's Rid of Me or the Afghan Whigs' Black Love, that you simply MUST hear in it's entirety.  In fact, very soon I will post a list of albums that I can only hear when I have time to hear the whole album.  

I leave you with Cat Power's "Love and Communication" which is the final track from The Greatest.  
I almost feel bad posting it, because it is SO MUCH BETTER when heard as the final track of the album, because it completes the story, but here it is:

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