Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Amanda Palmer's Greatest Hits, #20 - 16

This is the future of music...

She is the media. It only took Amanda Palmer a day to capture the attention of the music industry and the world as she started breaking fan-funding records with her Kickstarter project that ran throughout June. In a month she amassed over a million dollars in pledges from her insanely loyal fanbase to fund her next album, Theatre Is Evil. After her much publicized split from Roadrunner Records, Palmer, frontwoman for the always amazing dark cabaret inspired Dresden Dolls has gone from strength to strength. Her new album is due out in September, features new band The Grand Theft Orchestra and is already shaping up to contain the best music Palmer has delivered unto us. So how are we celebrating? With our latest countdown of course! Over the next four weeks we'll be looking at our twenty favourite Amanda Palmer songs. Solo, the Dresden Dolls, Evelyn Evelyn; everything she's touched is under consideration. Oh, but there won't be any covers. Deal with it. Amanda Palmer; songwriter, storyteller, artist, nudist and totally, 100% awesome. By the way, it's Amanda Fucking Palmer to you. Enjoy!  

#20. Have To Drive
ft. the Via Interficere Choir of Nashville and Jack Palmer
Album: Who Killed Amanda Palmer (2008)

I have to drive,
I have my reasons, dear...

The thing about Amanda Palmer is this; she is an incredible songwriter. Her lyrics are poetry and her musical talent is phenomenal. There isn’t a song that doesn’t move you in some way, whether it be devastating or hilarious or offensive or complete joy, she has the ability as an artist to stir emotions and reactions that a lot of musicians can only dream of doing. As a songwriter, she can be scary and confronting and beautiful and comedic and tear jerking all within a four minute pop song timeframe. Not everyone gets her, but those that do, really get her. Perhaps that’s why her fan base is smaller than some artists, but also incredibly loyal. ‘Have To Drive’ is a perfect example of her talent; the music itself is heart wrenching, her voice is astounding, the anguish she conveys is so genuine I get the feeling that if this song was written in another language which I didn’t speak, it wouldn’t matter, I would still hear the same beauty and pain with every listen. The lyrics are simply beautiful; “I suffer mornings most of all, I feel so powerless and small, by 10 o’clock I’m back in bed, fighting the jury in my head.” There’s many different ideas of what this song is about which shows what an incredible artist she is, her way with lyrics is astonishing, not filling in the blanks, putting questions in your mind but not leaving you guessing. Each listener has the opportunity to place themselves inside her world and experience their own journey through her music. This song's meaning? I’ll leave it up to you. From the very first notes, everything is warm but so uncomfortable. It’s something she has this incredible way of making her listeners feel, it’s what makes this song Amanda Palmer’s and it’s also what I love about it. (Jo Michelmore)

#19. Night Reconnaissance
Dresden Dolls Album: No, Virginia (2008)

No one can stop us the script is a work of genius,
No one has bought the rights yet but we're not giving up.

The Dresden Dolls are not a band for everyone. They can be shocking and harsh and rock and bouncy and pop all at the same time, then they can be this; almost Broadway, theatrical, cabaret-punk as they say, and that’s not something that everyone gets. 'Night Reconnaissance?' Where does this fit? It’s a little of everything, which I guess is why it appeared on No, Virginia, the Dresden Dolls' collection of B-sides and others, songs that didn’t really fit in anywhere else but make an interesting, eclectic and kind of fantastic collection together. It’s a song that would fit perfectly in the middle of a musical, I can see it now, some kooky character prancing along a stage street, in the dark, bursting into song; “Nothing is crueller than children who come from good homes, gotta forgive them, I guess, but whose side are you on?” and then a whole cast of characters swoop in and start stealing garden gnomes from theatre style stage houses. Oh, I really should have been in the theatre shouldn’t I? If Karen O can do a theatre/musical/psycho opera production then Ms Palmer could easily put one together! (Please Amanda? Perhaps not, considering the title of your next album. Oh well.) Anyway, I digress, but this is a song that sounds like it deserves to be performed. The lyrics are darkly comedic (does Amanda know any other way?), the clip is fun, all garden gnomes and torches and sneakiness and flamingos and running around and swaying and it’s just so catchy it’s hard not to swing along with it, which is exactly why it sounds like it’s made to be played. It's simultaneously a little dark and a little fun and that's kind of refreshing and yet it still manages to have that Palmer punch and quirkiness that make her so fabulous. Now, where’s a pen? I need to start writing a musical… (Jo Michelmore)

#18. Delilah
Dresden Dolls Album: Yes, Virginia (2006)

And it doesn't matter what I say or do,
The stupid bastard's gonna have his way with you.

This is a song about eternal friendship. We all have a Delilah or two (or three) of our own. You know the ones I'm talking about; the continual disappointments, the friends that can't ever seem to make the right choice. At least that's how you see it. Sometimes. Despite the amount of times you've been let down or the countless nights spent hearing about how they've been heartbroken (again and again and again) or the time wasted delivering stellar advice that falls on deaf ears... there's not a friend in the world you'd rather have. A Delilah is generally one of your oldest friends; you've likely known them since you were a child. I make this claim on the basis that most sane people wouldn't put up with a Delilah if they encountered them as an adult. You get frustrated with them, you find yourself advocating for them amongst your other friends who don't understand why you would like them and sometimes you can't even remember why you're friends. A 'crisis' of some sorts will occur and you'll get that reminder you need. You're their rock and in some strange way, they're your rock too. Delilah knows you just as well, if not better, than you know yourself and sometimes we all need a little bit of a (non-literal) kick to get us back on track and remind us of who we really are. When you say you'll always be friends with Delilah, you know it's the truth. "You need a ride Delilah? Let's see how fast this thing can go!" Indeed. Beautiful storytelling, Ms Palmer. (Matt Bond)

#17. The Mouse and the Model
Dresden Dolls Album: No, Virginia (2008)

If you did it say you did it,
If you didn't suck it up and say you did...

Why, yes, I have no idea what's going on in 'The Mouse and the Model.' I've read some of the theories, but you'd hardly say those are concrete. My favourite claims the mouse in the title is that evil Mickey fella and it's all about corporations and the media telling society who we're meant to be, how thin we're meant to be blah, blah, blah. Maybe it is. I'd say not. If I was to attempt to make a guess, I could say the theme of the song is about an individual's dual personalities. Evidence: "You Jekyl and hide it when you could have left." "It's dark over here on the flip-side of reason." What about the laughing mouse and model? One and the same? Does Palmer write about the insecurities that plague those the media deems to be most beautiful? Who knows. Like I said, I have no idea what's going on. What I do know, is that I love 'The Mouse and the Model.' It's a six minute investment in Amanda Palmer's world and it's well worth it... even if you have no idea what's going on. (Matt Bond)

#16. The Jeep Song
Dresden Dolls Album: The Dresden Dolls (2003)

I can't wait till you trade the damn thing in...

There’s a possibility that sometimes this could be one of my favourite break up songs, which is strange, because it’s not so slow, it’s not especially heartbreaking, it doesn’t have those heart pulling strings or guitars or dramatic harps or anything of the sort. It does however have the typical Amanda Palmer way of looking at the world which is something I relate to a little too well. It starts simply, piano, cymbals and Amanda’s simple observations of the day to day pain and annoyance of a breakup, until the backing vocals kick in and she sings it like it is; “with every Jeep I see, my broken heart still skips a beat.” We’ve all been there, yeah, but a song about it? Just perfect. The sing along of the “ba ba da ba” is awesome, and at the crescendo; “don’t tell me if you get another girl baby, just tell me if you get another car.” Can you please get out of my head Amanda? Funny though, if I’d written it, ‘The Toyota Rav 4 Song’ just doesn’t have the same ring does it? I guess that’s why she’s the songwriter and I’m the fan. Then again, she does have a knack of including words with many syllables in her songs, so maybe only Amanda could have worked that. Regardless, I’ll just pretend it was a Jeep I was obsessed with for a while there and reminisce as I sing along; “…someday I’ll steal your car and switch the gears and drive that Cherokee straight off this trail of tears...” (Jo Michelmore)

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