Song of the Day #23: ‘Bottle It Up’ – Sara Bareilles

I remember a cartoon that ran in Rolling Stone in 1990. Called “Mr. Guthrie’s Homeroom,” it depicted a classroom with Woody Guthrie standing at the blackboard. In the front row taking notes sits Bob Dylan. Behind Dylan, and leaning over to copy off Dylan’s paper, is Bruce Springsteen. And copying from Bruce Springsteen’s paper is John Mellencamp. (I was hoping I’d find it through the magic of the Web, but all I found was a reference to it and details of the issue in which it ran.)

This cartoon came to mind recently when I picked up Little Voice, the debut CD by Sara Bareilles. Only in this version it would be Joni Mitchell teaching the class, Tori Amos in the first seat, Fiona Apple behind her and Sara Bareilles in the back row. Throw in Nellie McKay and Rachael Yamagata while you’re at it.

It seems like these big-voiced piano-playing songstresses are popping up all over the place, and most of them are really good.

I’ve been putting off buying Little Voice for awhile, though I’m not sure why. I’ve heard a couple of Bareilles’ songs on XM radio and enjoyed them, and the album has been in the Best Buy sales bin for months, but something about the precocious pic on the cover stayed my hand.

I finally picked it up the other day and now I’m sorry I waited so long. It’s a terrific debut, full of smart, bluesy piano pop, great hooks and strong vocals. I’ve heard it all the way through only once but I can already tell it’s a keeper.

This song, ‘Bottle It Up,’ is an early favorite.

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #23: ‘Bottle It Up’ – Sara Bareilles

  1. Amy says:

    This is one of those songs, and artists, that preserves the sanity of the indulgent parents who give in to their children’s desire to listen to Radio Disney in order to minimize the number of “are we there yet?”s that would invariably come otherwise. The first time I heard her name was from David Archuleta, American Idol runner-up, but I’d already heard her songs a bunch of times on Radio Disney. It’s fascinating to try to figure out why some artists are marketed to the RD crowd, while others are not. Regardless, I’m all for music that parents and children can enjoy together, and Sara falls squarely into that category.

    As for your cartoon analysis, I resent the suggestion that only women would be sitting in Joni’s classroom. Surely Adam Duritz has been strongly influenced by Mitchell, as have many other male songwriters. And there certainly would be women sitting in Dylan’s classroom. Still, it’s a compelling visual metaphor.

  2. Clay says:

    Yes, it’s odd that she’s a Radio Disney staple. She’s nearly 30, which is young in my book but ancient to the tween set, and the album contains some adult language and subject matter (it’s not Eminem, but it’s not Hannah Montana either).

    The point of the cartoon is that the artists are similar, not just that they provide inspiration. Nobody would hear Counting Crows and think they’re trying to be Joni Mitchell. But you can’t hear these new artists without thinking of Fiona Apple or Tori Amos.

  3. Dana says:

    I like her sound. I see more of the Tori Amos and Edie Brickel than the darker Fiona. As for Radio Disney, they routinely play artists and songs with questionable lyrics, but play sanitized “RD versions.” Maddie, who sometimes hears the real versions at school, through friends, etc., loves to tell us what the “real” lyrics are:)

  4. Clay says:

    I’d say Tori Amos is a lot darker than Fiona Apple. I definitely hear the Apple influence on a lot of Bareilles’ album… sometimes down to specific piano lines.

    That tricky Radio Disney, getting kids hooked on dangerous music!

  5. Dana says:

    I don’t know much of Amos–though I loved Cornflake Girl.

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