Scratched Into Our Souls

Liz Phair – “Divorce Song” | September 6, 2010

Sometimes, you stumble upon a song that makes you wonder why you waited so long to discover an artist. It’s ridiculous that you even considered waiting to check them out, especially once you’ve discovered how awesome they are. Last summer, that happened with me and Elliott Smith. A few summers ago, it happened with The Hold Steady, who are without a doubt my favorite non-Beatles band.

This week, that’s happening with me and Liz Phair. A singer-songwriter from the 90s, the only Liz Phair song I had ever been familiar with was the ultra-poppy “Why Can’t I?” I am ashamed to admit that I let that song color my impression of her music for ages, but I finally got my hands on a copy of the magnificent Exile In Guyville this week. And now, I can’t stop listening. Phair’s magnum opus is considered by many to be something like lightning-in-a-bottle; she never replicated her success that she had with Exile. Everything about the album screams 20th century female angst, and rightfully so. The album cover is a passionate and emotional image of Phair looking to release herself from the bondage of the sexualized rockist criticism provided by misogynous critics, capturing a moment of unadulterated feminine energy. Even the album title is a play on the classic title of a record that drips with male libido and machismo, The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street

One of the highlights from this record is the powerful and deeply felt “Divorce Song,” which reflects on the dissolution of what one can imagine was a fiery and powerful relationship. Phair delivers her lyrics in a restrained, emotionally hidden manner, revealing one of her most tender performances put to tape. It’s powerful in the same way that courage is powerful, but her courage and conviction in this song is fueled by fear and heartache. It’s an uncertain future for anybody with troubled relationships, but it’s also uplifting to feel your heart break. If love doesn’t hurt, you aren’t doing it right.

Listen: Liz Phair – “Divorce Song”


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    About Me: Chris Robinson

    A budding writer and avid music fan from Los Angeles, California, I am a recent graduate of Music History from UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music. I've written for the UCLA Daily Bruin, graduated valedictorian from high school, and enjoy many different types of music, from The Beatles to Beethoven, and everything in between. I wrote my senior thesis on lyrical misinterpretations in popular music, focusing on Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA."

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    All music posted on this blog is for sampling purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Go out and buy their music, attend their shows, and buy merchandise.

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