Here’s a quick song from Neko Case’s 2009 album Middle Cyclone.
Not much to this one other than the rustic, majestic sound she captured on this record and its predecessor, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, but I do find a lot to like in the lyrics.
Lines like “I’ve been away for so long I’ve lost my taste for home” and “that’s a dirty, fallow feeling to be the dangling ceiling from when the roof came crashing down” are evocative and sad in the best way.
Now here’s a song that I’d never heard before discovering it through this cover version. ‘Don’t Forget Me’ was originally written and recorded by Harry Nilsson for his 1974 album Pussy Cats.
That album was produced by John Lennon and features a wild cover of Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ as well as gentler fare like this. Apparently Nilsson and Lennon’s hard partying carried over into the studio and resulted in a wild, half-genius, half-WTF album.
Nilsson even ruptured a vocal cord during the sessions but kept it to himself, and you can hear his voice getting progressively more harsh through the record.
Best Songs of 2009 – #4
Like Lily Allen, Neko Case had a tough act to follow in 2009. 2006’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is a rich masterwork and one of my favorite albums of recent years.
Last year she put out Middle Cyclone, another fine showcase of her songwriting and vocal talents that works well as an album but doesn’t boast as many “song songs” as Fox Confessor.
In recent posts about Shakira and Christina Aguilera I decried the use of overt sexuality to sell the music of women whose talent stretches far beyond their looks.
I stand by those sentiments but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m generally prudish when it comes to things like this. I believe sexuality plays a big role in entertainment and particularly in music. The reason rock-and-roll was considered dangerous by older generations all those decades ago is because that music was about sex, maybe more than it was about anything else.
I’ve started writing this review in my head about ten times already but I’ve always stopped short of typing it out because it’s never felt quite right.
At one point I had what I thought was a pretty clever opening in mind: You know how they say “so-and-so’s voice is so good I’d listen to her sing the phone book?” Well, Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone is the closest I’ve come to testing that theory.
That was after I’d first gotten the album and I just didn’t get half of it. I was searching for melodies and choruses without much luck, left admiring the gorgeous vocals of the gorgeous Case but not really feeling the songs.
In a nifty marketing move, Neko Case is donating $5 to Best Friends Animal Society every time somebody posts her latest single on his or her blog over the next two weeks.
Now I don’t particularly care about animals, but I will jump at the chance to focus some attention on Neko Case. I’ve been eagerly looking forward to new music from her since her wonderful 2006 album Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. She has one of the very best voices in popular music today and the songwriting chops to match.