cat power – moon pix

when no one is around, love will always love you

i fell in love.

this was recorded in melbourne and released in the same year as ocean songs by the dirty three, and a song such as no sense carries its signature (with chan’s voice added). it was partly an exercise in hearing the best of mick and jim, but also realising they had the capacity to deliver more or less conventional support to collaborators. whichever way it was cut, it was true beauty.

and it was the first i gave a woman a chance as a singer. mum bequeathed to me a general dislike of higher pitched singers, which generally covered most women (her own exception was janis joplin). it was unfair of me in many ways to take that on without question, and also unfair to start here with the reference to the male musicians i already knew and loved. this is chan’s music as cat power.

i had forgotten just how understatedly fantastic this album was. say is quiet, backed with thunder and formed of a simple chord progression with chan’s warm voice and perfectly senseful lyrics. in similar vein is back of your head.

but the most perfect combination that cries out here is metal heart. it’s sad and spectacular. mick’s guitar shines through; jim’s drums roll in like a storm front. chan’s voice is full of remorse and the vocal track is doubled up. it’s all told in a lyric where she paraphrases amazing grace: i once was lost, but now i’m found, was blind but now i see, how selfish of you to believe in the meaning of all the bad dreams.

course, it all started for me after repeatedly seeing the video for cross bones style on rage and hearing the song on triple j. it’s not that i saw in her a role model. i’m not even remotely conscious of actually idolising anyone as a child or teenager. but what it showed me was a strength of character that i really had not seen elsewhere. and it was hard to not be infected with the hypnotic beat and guitar rhythm of this song, with her stunning overdubbed self-harmonies.

looking at a few of her lyrics over time, i realised one of the reasons why she stood alone, strongly. she posited the existence of love itself (in any form, i take it), as giving love. not needing a recipient or reciprocator. that is my life.

if you’re lookin’ for something easy, you might as well give it up


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