Cat Power.

28 09 2011

My love for Chan Marshall began sometime in 2000, I think. I think that was the year. All I know is that I was listening to John Peel under the covers with the light out because I should’ve been asleep. Thing is, I did this with every John Peel show but my mum never told me off. She knew how much I idolised John Peel.

Chan Marshall aka Cat Power’s voice was like nothing I had ever heard. So relaxing but full of so much feeling. Her songs were so vulnerable and her voice trembling on certain songs made you really feel what she was singing.

I hold her song Metal Heart very dear to me. I do favour the Moon Pix version more than the Jukebox version, but that’s because it sounds much darker. If it sounds dark and tormented, I’ll love it. Not in a sick, twisted way; but in a way that makes it easy to relate to.

I own all of Cat Power’s records, and I think, as hard as it is to decide; You Are Free is my favourite record. I adore the album cover, with the picturesque album artwork just gives off the freedom feel to it which ties in with the album title. You listen to the album and you do feel so weightless, so free. Any good record will make you that way. Any good record will take you to a higher plain.

Her music is tormenting, romantic, dark, hurtful, loving, longing; it is just everything, and more. There are so many layers to her sound. I find her to be one of the most charming and alluring singers to have ever existed. She has this quality about her that makes you want to just sit with her and discuss the world. You also feel honoured to have heard her music. It is so rich but pure. All the greats seem to have battled with their own personal demons, from Billie Holiday to Jimi Hendrix. Cat Power is no stranger.

Most are aware of her battle with various substances (drink and drugs.) And her fight with her demons, no one is ever in a place to judge another with how they deal with their battles. We’ve all got our own demons to fight off. You do, I do; no one is exempt. However, Cat Power didn’t let it beat her. Her live performances did suffer for a time. Performances would be cut short or cancelled last minute. This was around 2006. In 2008, I saw her live. The venue held around 250 people maybe a hundred more, but it was tiny. I was finally seeing my favourite singer live, and I will not deny that I had a bit of fear that she would cancel or walk off stage halfway through the gig. Luckily, this was the time she was finally sorted. Her new album, Jukebox had come out and things were looking up. When she sang Metal Heart I felt that a part of me had been found. There is something indescribable about seeing the song that saved you live. It just does something to you that nothing or no one else ever could. I will never forget that gig; I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her band is truly stunning, what I love about them is that they are real, raw musicians. They do it for the music, and the sheer love they have for it.

Her music is one I cannot go a day without playing. It brings confidence and hope, it creates feelings no other could give. It is beyond music, it is a force. One thing Cat Power is known for is her covers. As someone who isn’t the biggest fan of covers, I really do have a soft spot for Cat’s covers. She takes the original and just adds this sensitive and earthy feel to it. I adore her cover of the Velvet Underground’s I Found A Reason. As someone who is obsessed with Velvet Underground, I’m a bit dubious of anyone who covers them. The only two artists that can cover them and still stay true to the sound are The Kills and Cat Power. They keep the same feeling to the songs, but add their own personal touch to it. That’s when you know a cover is given the justice it deserves.

She has covered everyone from Bob Dylan to John Lee Hooker; she takes the songs from those that inspire her and makes the covers her own personal tribute to them. It is so beautiful and passionate.

Her love for Bob Dylan is truly special and just beautiful. You can tell how in awe she of him. Her track, Song For Bobby is the most gorgeous dedication I’ve ever heard. As someone who adores Bob Dylan, you really appreciate how she conveys how you feel for him in her song. “What I feel in my heart from the beginning till my dying day.” She’s loved him from the first time she heard him, and always will. That’s what it is like when you find a musician you really connect with. Nothing can break or decrease your love for them, it is that great. It’s like a lifeline for you. We’ve all got that one artist that means this much to us. The way she sings of her admiration to Bobby is how I feel about her.

Her voice is bluesy and just sets your soul on fire. If you’re not touched by her voice, then I guess there could be something wrong with you. Do you watch X-Factor by any chance and you’ve become a sucker for what the TV tells you to enjoy? Oh dear. I don’t know if you can be saved. Her music is a comfort blanket. Her music makes you feel okay with your insecurities and fears. You feel that her cover songs are her own; she is such a strong figure who allows herself to be weak. Not many do this; many just act like a rock. We cannot relate to that.

The vulnerability that comes through in her music makes you connect with her on a completely different level. You see, most show it through the words they sing. Cat Power is different; you feel it in HOW she sings it; that’s a lot deeper. That takes more out of you.

Of all the female singers that I adore, my heart well and truly belongs to Cat Power, and yes my blog URL is in tribute to Cat Power.


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