Morning Music: Cat Power’s Colors and the Kids

Moon Pix - Cat PowerCat Power sounds like the name of a band, but it is actually the moniker of Chan Marshall. She is remarkable because, well, she’s really great. But also because she’s a woman, as the pronoun implies. She’s also had far more popular success than the other bands we’ve been listening to.

Her work is quite varied. You certainly couldn’t say that her style was sadcore. Then again, as I go through this week, I realize that it is’t pretty hard to say what the hell sadcore is. I listen to a lot of bands that get the label, and I don’t too much buy it. Truthfully, the only bands I feel really good about using the moniker on are the three featured thus far: American Music Club, Codeine, and Red House Painters.

But there is no doubt that Cat Power is sad. She’s had major problems with alcohol overuse and at least one psychotic breakdown. I don’t mean to be cavalier, but that kind of thing definitely goes along with this kind of music. When you think of rockers drinking, you think of parties and generally an extroverted experience. When you think of Mark Eitzel or Cat Power, you imagine them alone and lost in their dark thoughts.

The song for today comes off Cat Power’s four album, Moon Pix — which is widely considered her masterpiece. The album isn’t a total downer at all. Of course, you could say that of the other acts. But I’ve picked one that is weirdly down, “Colors and the Kids.” It’s hard to say what it is about. It’s just short of hopeful. Like so much of her work, it sounds like a cry for help. It is highly evocative, but other than that she is managing to hang on for one or another reasons, I can’t say.

29 thoughts on “Morning Music: Cat Power’s Colors and the Kids

  1. I just ordered the album. That’s the kind of song I like. But there are reasons for this, and I can easily see how less f-ed up people might find it strange.

    “Sadcore” is a dumb label. But so was “alternative,” so are most music labels. I have no idea who hands them out.

      • Well, since you mention it: Paul Krugman’s taste in music also annoys me. It is a very anemic alternative music that is exactly what you would think a guy in his 60s would think was hip. But it could be worse.

        • I would say I am never going to let you look at my music files but since I freely admit to no taste, I think it will be okay. There will be a lot of trying to not cringe out of politeness.

          But we agree-his taste in music is meh.

          • He picks good enough bands. But it all very much the same. But how about a surprise once in a while? The Partridge Family! Barry Manilow! The Beastie Boys! Or maybe go backwards: Louis Armstrong or Jacques Brel or Robert Johnson. He has occasionally featured musical theater stuff, which is a bit refreshing. But let’s imagine all he played was David Cassidy. At least that would be wonderfully quirky.

              • If he did that, I would start a petition with the NYT to disallow him from embedding videos on his blog.

                • I almost…but for the purposes of not being permanently banned…did a response based on the top hits from Disney for the past forty years.

                  It was hard though. Really really hard.

                  • I remember liking the “Little Mermaid” songs, and “Jungle Book” when I was a kid. I think “Candle On The Water” from “Pete’s Dragon” was a big hit.

                    I know people liked “Lion King,” and that’s great, but I preferred the South Park parody “The Circle Of Poo.”

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Llbx5OyZEFA

                  • It’s not just Disney. I really think that musicals have gotten so much worse in recent years. I love the really old stuff like Babes in Arms. Rodgers and Hart were so much better than Rodgers and Hammerstein. But then it was really Andrew Lloyd Webber who destroyed everything. I’m so tired of boring songs and then one “hit” that is so annoying catchy that I want to cut my wrists.

                    • Since I am apparently 6 in my love of listening to the same song 738 times in a row…I don’t like most of the Disney songs but I adored “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel. Of course it mentions some of my favorite things-hiding from the world, wind, cold and storms.

                      But the most recent musical I think I saw that wasn’t a cartoon was Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Once More, With Feeling. Not quite the same thing.

                    • One of the episodes of Todd and the Book of Pure Evil was a rock opera. Not bad at all.

                    • I am still buying that series on Amazon unless I can find it for free online.

                      I wish I could torrent!

                    • Ah, yes. It used to be on Netflix. I should warn you, it is mostly all just an excuse for some glorious blood splatter at the end of each episode. But I like the characters. And there is a romantic subplot that just charms the hell out of me.

    • I agree. I love Cat Power’s work. I think I’m on the verge of going crazy over her.

      I think what happened is that people came up with the label “alternative.” But then they found that it was so broad that it didn’t mean much. So they started slicing and dicing. And sadcore is one of those slices. The problem is that modern popular music (the kind I listen to, anyway) is so eclectic that it is hard to classify. But I’m really glad I’m doing this week because it’s making me think about a lot of different things.

      • I ended up enjoying the album a lot, although there were moments which made me a little worried about the writer. But we never know when sometimes the saddest art is more empathetic than confessional. Also, even if it is confessional, some people with heavy depression can surprise others with how much they can keep hanging on.

        • She’s had a lot of problems over the years, so I suspect it is confessional. You can never see who is going to kill themselves. A lot of depressed people are actually too depressed to do even it. And people hold on until they don’t. I would hope she would be well supported. I’m glad you liked the album.

          • From links on Wiki page it seems like she’s been branching out and enjoying working with collaborators, so hopefully that helps!

            • From a personal standpoint, certainly. Usually, from an artistic point it isn’t that great. But at this point I think we have to worry more about her personally.

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