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Friday, February 13, 2009

Emmy the Great, the Cute, the Talented, the Melancholic, the Sweet, the Magnificent

I don't think we've ever written anything about Emmy the Great. Which is weird because, if you had asked me a year ago to give you ten reasons for starting this blog, five of the reasons would have been variations of "to make everyone love Emmy the Great". Well, it seems that Emmy finally has an album out, titled "First Love". Yet, for some reason, I don't think she reaches her full potential on it. For starters many of her best songs are not included on it. Furthermore, it seemed to me that even some of her songs that I knew and loved weren't as great in their album-versions as they were when they were merely demos. But this post is not just about "First Love". It's meant as a tribute to a singer I truly love. Emmy easily makes my top three of sweetest female voices in the music industry (up there with Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell). But that wouldn't have been enough. As is usually the case with my favorite bands/singers, she also writes heartachingly beautiful song lyrics. Not pretentious or "intellectualized" song lyrics, but song lyrics that are sometimes sweet, sometimes innocent, and sometimes mean, but always honest. Song lyrics that aren't like those paragraphs in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" that you always quote because they sound smart. Song lyrics that are like those passages in your favorite book that you remember most, that you hold closest to your heart, that make you think "that could be me saying it".

"Wish I could tell you all the things that Woody Allen helps me see
How Annie Hall is starting to seem quite a lot like you and me
It took a while to come around to David Bowie's new CD
And it's much too late to give back your Magnetic Fields EP
Can I keep it by my pillow? Fucking loved it -
How I long to tell you so..."
* Canopies and Grapes *

And you and me are still but the scenery moves
Well why would it stop just 'cause suddenly there's one where there used to be two?
And everything's quiet but... looks like the speaker lived through the blow
Still playing some compilation you made
Feels like a lifetime sitting alone so I start humming along to the tape -
I always liked this singer
I remember how you were the one who told me that her name was either MIA or M.I.A"

* MIA *

"I'm having a party and I hope that you know this
Spend Friday alone and pretend not to notice
All of the stupid things you've done I know and I'm telling everyone
'Cause you're not my best friend anymore.
And tomorrow I will find a new friend from the new friend shop
* My Party Is Better Than Yours *

"Now they tell me that unless you're looking out of magazines, well, then you don't exist
But I knew that you were real before I read it in an interview today
Before I used you as a surface - did a line across your face
In the toilet of a girl who's sitting outside dropping names like they were carpet bombs, she knows everyone
But I knew you first...
Back when love was underneath you with my fingers in the dirt
You said 'I'll stop if it hurts'
You said 'I'll stop it if it's scary' "

* Two Steps Forward *

"What will you look like when you're old?
And what will I do if I don't know you?
I guess that I decided not to know the day I took the road down to the city as it called
Sun making silhouettes of gauze... I don't remember you at all.
They pulled a human from my waist
It had your mouth, it had your face
I would have kept it if I'd stayed"

* City Song *
(non-album version)

Oh, by the way, I thought the illustration looked a bit like her :)
Buy the album here.


Gwen H said...

A lovely post about a lovely artist. Emmy the Great is easily one of my favorites. I have a lot of trouble getting other people to like her, though (well, they think she's "nice" or "cute"). From now on, I'll just send them here.

Eliza K. said...

Thanks Gwen! To be honest, I have the same problem myself. "Nice" is what I usually get. Which is nowhere near enough, of course! Also, one of the problems is people don't really pay attention to the lyrics that much and with Emmy that's missing out on a lot (which is why I wanted to include some in the post).
Keep making people listen to her! ;)

Michael J.W. Beijer said...

Cool. No idea who she was before reading this post.