I wrote a totally unlicensed jukebox musical featuring the songs of singer-songwriter and pianist Regina Spektor, entitled ‘Break My Fall’. This was far from a difficult endeavor - not only are her songs naturally narrative in style, but there are even recurrent characters and motifs, such as Mary Ann, the Gravediggers and sailing vessels. Displayed above is a mock theatrical poster for ‘Break My Fall’. The listed actors (e.g. Vivian Darkbloom, Poligraf Sharikov) are figures from literature either referenced in Regina Spektor’s oevre or consistent with the themes of her work.
After the jump is a plot summary and some bonus content.
I can’t stay awake. I’ve drifted off four or five times now.
Thank you, random reblogger for reminding me to listen to the new Mount Eerie album while it’s still streaming on NPR. It’s pretty good!
First impressions: “Patron Saint” really benefits from production, “Oh Marcello!” is as fuckin’ weird as ever, I never realized how creepy “Ballad of a Politician” is, I love that the horrible gasps were left in “Open”, and “Jessica” sounds like a cover in a good way.
Conclusion: gonna buy it. Duh.
Listening to WWSFCS on my shitty laptop speakers and freaking out just a little.
There’s a fairy tale, sometimes known as “The Girl Without Hands” or “A Father Cuts Off His Daughter’s Arms”. It was collected by the Brothers Grimm, but my preferred variant comes from Africa. This story doesn’t get much play in this time and place, probably because it centers around the vivisection of a young girl. But it’s an incredibly powerful tale. It paints such a vivid picture of abuse. The titular girl, who rejects the sexual advances of her father, is dismembered, losing her arms as punishment. Likewise, the survivor of abuse must cut off the part of themselves which allows interaction with the world. Touch is defiled and rendered unclean and impure by the abuser, and so touch becomes anathema, as useless as a pair of severed limbs. Just as in the story, it seems unfair that the girl must pay for her father’s wanton lust and cruelty, it is the survivor of abuse who pays for what’s been done to them through no fault of their own. In the variant recorded by the Brothers Grimm, it isn’t lust, but greed which causes the father to cut off his daughter’s arms, but I find the sexual reading to resonate more deeply. Because arms aren’t just lifting and carrying, craftsmanship and labor. There are more than just economic implications in losing one’s arms. In losing her hands, the girl loses her ability to caress, to soothe, and to enter the world of human contact. Because of the abuse she underwent, the girl exists in a state where total self-denial is preferable to letting the evil that her father forced on her back into her life. Of course, because this is a fairy tale, the girl doesn’t remain limbless. A handsome prince discovers her existence and has a smith forge a pair of fine silver arms and for a time, she is a capable of functioning, of disguising herself as one just-like-everybody-else. But all it takes is some scheming on behalf of a wicked queen for the girl to once again lose her arms, revealing that underneath the shining metal exoskeleton, the old wound never really healed. As part of the same sequence of events, the prince is driven away and the girls finds herself alone, unable to connect with anyone on a human level. In some variants, the girl finds her happy ending, reclaiming her boyfriend and her arms in one fell swoop. But this, perhaps, is the most unrealistic aspect of this tale. With real survivors of abuse, there’s always that chance that their armor may be ripped away, revealing the trauma under the surface. Even the most natural pair of arms can only cover up the past, which is always lurking, always scheming, always ready to leave one vulnerable.
I’ll be the first one to admit - I hate it when people with no professional credentials or background in music try and impose their uninformed opinions on others. But this is my 700th post. I think I’ve earned it.
2010 was my favorite year for music since I’ve been alive. This year saw the release of some of the best albums of all time, like:
- Sufjan’s Stevens’ staggeringly beautiful ‘All Delighted People EP’, featuring tunes like ‘From the Mouth of Gabriel’, ‘The Owl and the Tanager’, and the transcendental title track.
- Owen Pallett’s experimental epic ‘Heartland’, which has stirring numbers like ‘Lewis Takes Off His Shirt’, and one of my personal favorties ‘The Great Elsewhere’.
- The elegant tapestry that is Joanna Newsom’s ‘Have On One Me’. She delivers not with the curious complexity I’d come to expect in songs like ‘No Provenance’, but with her explorations of new musical territory in songs like ‘Soft As Chalk’.
After the jump, I’ve listed some of the other albums in an effort to show that 2010 was indeed the best year for music in recent memory.
We made it to ‘shortstop’, which is to say that we were somewhere between second and third base when we decided to stop short.
Werner Herzog and Lars Von Trier aren’t even remotely the same person.
I propose as a double feature: Body of Evidence and Antichrist.
I’m in the middle of Alison Bechdel’s ‘Are You My Mother?’ and I can almost feel myself getting turned inside out. It’s a very unpleasant sensation. Which isn’t to say I’m not enjoying the book. It just represents this black hole of introspection that I can’t escape. One of my favorite elements of ‘Fun Home’, her previous book, was it’s encapsulation of literature within an autobiographical framework. In contrast, ‘Are You My Mother?’ tries to encapsulate psychology. Maybe it’s my hostility towards that particular discipline, but I find the act of reading almost nauseating, as though the various levels of self-reflection create the illusion of unimaginable depth in the space between author and reader. Yet, paradoxically, I feel compelled to continue reading the book, as if it were an act of resuscitation, although who I’m trying to save is unclear. Ultimately, Bechdel succeeds in conveying the conflict and confusion of her own life. I’m just not sure if I’m ready to receive it.
We’re going to get to the point where I hear Björk and I start crying.