Song of the Day #1,422: ‘It Wasn’t Me’ – Jenny Lewis

The Random iTunes Fairy chose an interesting pair of songs this weekend. While yesterday’s track showcased the importance of the single, today’s selection is all about the deep cut.

The final track on Jenny Lewis’ 2005 album Rabbit-Fur Coat, ‘It Wasn’t Me’ is in no danger of winding up on the radio. But it’s a lovely little closing track, one that deserves to be heard. It’s the antithesis of a song like The Corrs’ ‘Breathless’ that was born to wind up on one of those NOW compilations.

That said, Jenny Lewis is a deep cut artist who I just haven’t fully embraced for some reason. Every time I do listen to one of the two albums of hers that I own (this one plus Acid Tongue, its follow-up), I like what I hear. But I don’t stick with it.

I could see perfectly reasonable people with tastes similar to mine doing the same thing to Aimee Mann, Elvis Costello or Ron Sexsmith — artists not dissimilar to Ms. Lewis (indeed, Costello has collaborated with her on many occasions). Why do I know those three by heart while Lewis has to bubble up in a random iTunes search for me to remember she’s worthwhile?

It wasn’t me, I wasn’t there
I was just watching from over here
And besides, I couldn’t afford the bus fare

In Hollywood and Washington
They shake and smile through the harm they’ve done
But it’s your little red wagon
And you gotta pull it

It’ll take a lifetime to clear your name
Under the bridges of fame it’s always nighttime

It wasn’t me, I wasn’t there
I was stone drunk, it isn’t clear
And it doesn’t count ’cause I don’t care
The years transform my memories
Of all the countless decades of grief

It was cut and run in ’91
Put yourselves in a straight jacket
But when you’re plead insane
It’s no cheaper than humiliation
That’s free

I’ve gone and quit my worshiping
Of the false gods and golden sins
‘Cause we made love in the Tower of Babel
And it fell down

It wasn’t me, I wasn’t there
That was not my love affair
That is not my lover, that’s not even my friend

It wasn’t me, I wasn’t there
I was stone drunk, it isn’t clear
And it doesn’t count, ’cause I don’t care
But I use a pop song to clear my name

Under the bridges of fame it’s always nighttime
I’ll end with a closer and say goodnight


2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,422: ‘It Wasn’t Me’ – Jenny Lewis

  1. Dana says:

    Perhaps she doesn’t stick because she is more one dimensional than someone like Costello? That may be unfair criticism though as I haven’t heard other songs from her to see if she is more diverse. Also, even if she is one dimensional, one could argue the same of Mann and Sexsmith, though not Costello, yet you adore those other artists.

    Who knows why one artist of similar sound connects while another doesn’t? Pandora really tests this concept and provides mixed results for me. On the Randy Newman channel, I often hear Dr. John and I generally enjoy what I hear, though I haven’t yet bought one of his albums. Then, on the Costello or Lovett channels, I’ll hear artists supposedly similar who do nothing for me at all. Love, whether with relationships or in music, is clearly a fickle thing, dependent upon intangible qualities, not logic.

  2. Clay says:

    Pandora is a great example of an application that is expressly designed to break musical taste into logical pieces. And I agree, it works sometimes but not always, even when the songs it returns are perfectly suited to the channel.

    I also think whether something clicks or not has a lot to do with luck and timing. A song or album that makes no impression today might make a huge one some other time, when my mood is different.

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