Monday, October 17, 2005

One Eyed Ingenue

Even though I majored in college in TV, movies, and music, I've never claimed that I have my finger on the pulse of this country's pop culture. I'll be the first to admit I never know why some things hit the public jackpot and why others seem to strike the fancy of the nation's many cultural critics.

Take for example the continued employment (and therefore seeming popularity) of FOX's top baseball analyst Tim McCarver who has now maintained that exulted position since the 1980's as Major League Baseball has moved from ABC to CBS to Fox. McCarver clearly knows the game well but his reliance on puns and his redundant analysis has even made me long for the more palatable Tony Kubek or Jim Kaat.

So the other night as I was watching the Chicago White Sox play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and I was getting ready to go to bed, I decided I couldn't listen to McCarver anymore so I turned down the TV sound and plopped my iPod in to listen to the new Liz Phair CD, Somebody's Miracle, for the first time. So unimpressed was I that I nearly turned the sound of the TV back up to hear what McCarver was saying about a horrible call that allowed A.J. Pierzynski to go to first base despite striking out, ultimately causing the Angels the game. But I didn't. I stayed with Liz. And I thought to myself, "God this is awful."

The next day at work I put the CD on again and this time I cut the gal some slack. Somebody's Miracle like last year's Liz Phair is slickly produced and thus all but erases Liz's claim to the throne of one time Indi-Queen. The songs all but sound exactly alike and there's not one of them that hit me between the eyes (or legs) like say, "Divorce Song" or "Perfect World." Yet unlike her last effort (an effort some accused her of trying to be a much older Avril Lavigne) at least this time Liz isn't singing about her favorite pair of underwear or favorite human secretion. This time she's singing about some much sadder stuff albeit at times with nearly Spector-ish bombastic production to cover it all up.

Paul McCartney has recently been praised up and down by music critics for stripping his sound down bare and releasing an album that seems deeper and more intimate. But his CD, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard doesn't reveal as much as Liz poetically does on Somebody's Miracle. Her CD's opening track, "Leap of Innocence" sets the tone for all that is to follow. The singer is expressing remorse for so enjoying an affair while admitting that while you're having fun things can't last "like love in California." And then the chorus is laid out for all to hear. "Anyone can tell you were my instrument/He said, 'I understand you/You want to play me...'" How devastating.

The ultra-polished production is unfortunate making some decent songs sound as if they could have been anonymously written/sung by anyone from Shania Twain to Sheryl Crow. And what's up with such a bland CD title? Liz has previously been four for four in that category with cocky CD names like Exile in Guyville, Whip Smart, whitechocolatespaceegg, and the ironic Liz Phair that revealed less (except for some sexy girly photos) than Dylan's ultimate match this for awfulness cuz you can't, throwitallaway Self Portrait. This time there are shrapnel wound inducing lines that would have made a great CD title scattered throughout like "One Eyed Ingenue" or "Sometimes I Am Inspired." So just what the heck is one supposed to make about Somebody's Miracle?

My favorite track is the playful "Got My Own Thing" that is Liz at her clever best. You gotta smile when she delivers sly lines like, "They say I'm pretty as a song..." or "I don't have to save for a rainy day I know that something comes along... IT ALWAYS comes along..." and "Everybody changed when I do what I do... CUZ I DO WHAT I DO..."

Bottom line may be that I'm in love and may always be with Liz Phair. Sure I may love Bob Dylan's music but I am in love with Liz Phair. Good looks, good luck, cheeky music and that attitude, how can one resist a package like that?

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