Joanna Newsom

23 02 2010

I was wrong to underestimate Joanna Newsom, is the lesson I’ve learned. There’s a new Joanna Newsom album out called Have One On Me, and I’m surprised to say I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve heard so far. When she first came out, I was dismissive of her strange voice and of the notion of harp-based pop music. In fact, I was dismissive without even actually hearing her; I only did finally hear her because a girl played her for me in college. Getting back to the point, Joanna Newsom’s new album is damn impressive, beautiful, and a great step forward. Joanna’s voice is changing, the arrangements are changing a bit, and the Pitchfork review of the album is actually dead-on, in my opinion. Below is the song “’81” and the lyrics, which are as gorgeous as the music. I feel the song is “triumphantly beautiful.” Now, if you are, like certain very nice friends of mine, “more of a rock guy,” or pissed about the current softness of indie bands and artists, you will not like this at all. If you like Joni Mitchell, folk music, poetry, orchestral music, ethereal slow songs, or sad-but-beautiful -type stuff, then I would say check it out. As a bonus, here’s a nice interview with her from The Times.

“’81” by Joanna Newsom
I found a little plot of land
in the garden of Eden
It was dirt and dirt is all the same

I tilled it with my two hands
and I called it my very own
There was no one to dispute my claim

Well, you’d be shocked at the state of things
The whole place had just cleared right out
It was hotter than hell, so I lay me by a spring
For a spell as naked as a trout

The wandering eye that I have caught
is as hot as a wandering sun
But I will want for nothing more, in the garden
Start again
In my hardening of every heart but one

Meet me in the garden of Eden,
Bring a friend, we are gonna have ourselves a time
We are gonna have a garden party,
It’s on me, no sir-e, it’s my dime

We broke our hearts in the war between
St. George and the dragon
But both in equal parts are welcome to come along
I’m inviting everyone

Farewell, to loves that I have known
Even muddy as waters run
Tell me what is meant by sitting alone in a garden,
seceded from the Union in the year of ’81?

The unending amends you made
Are enough for one life, be done
I believe in innocence, little darling, start again
I believe in everyone

I believe, regardless, I believe in everyone




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