Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Amanda Palmer's Greatest Hits, #10 - 6

#10. Good Day
Dresden Dolls Album: The Dresden Dolls (2003)

I'm betting that even though you knew it from the start,
You'd rather be a bitch, than be an ordinary broken heart. 

This song makes me kind of angry. It’s not the slow music box beginning and it’s not the heavy drums and the emotional keys and the viscous, delicious vocal of Amanda singing some of the most awesome break up lyrics; “god it's been a lovely day, everything's been going my way, ever since you went away, I'm on fire.” It’s not the manic theatre worthy keys about four minutes in and it’s not the incredible way I’ve referenced before that Amanda has of sucking you in with her soft, inviting vocals then smashing you in the face with her pure anger in the next verse. It’s not some of my favourite revenge lyrics, ever; “...rather be a bitch than be an ordinary broken heart.” It’s none of those things that make me angry. You know what it is? This song makes me angry because it’s so unbearably good. It makes me angry that so many ridiculously average, not very angry, not very good songs get to be known as great break up songs and sell millions of copies and sit inside broken hearts. This song makes me angry and it does it in the very best way, it’s revenge, desperation and heartbreak at its best and this is one of the reasons Amanda Fucking Palmer deserves the ‘fucking’ in the middle of her name. She’s angry and she’s beautiful and in case you haven’t worked it out yet, she’s fucking amazing. (Jo Michelmore)

#9. The Perfect Fit
Dresden Dolls Album: The Dresden Dolls (2003)

I can paint my face, and stand very, very still,
It's not very practical, but it still pays the bills.

When I listen to 'The Perfect Fit,' I don't find myself attempting to find hidden meanings within the lyrics. There's an open honesty here that you have to look a little bit harder for with a lot of Amanda Palmer's work. Songs like this aren't the norm in her collection, so when she writes in the style found here the track stands out in comparison to the more... complicated... numbers. When I say 'The Perfect Fit' stands out, I mean it's outstanding. An insight into Palmer's life, her search for love and a reminder that growing up can be a lot harder than we're ever led to believe. It was known that AFP was a talented self-taught pianist who couldn't read sheet music. It was known that she had worked as a living statue. What wasn't as obvious would be her struggles with navigating adulthood. Why should it be obvious? Everyone does a pretty good job of not saying that life is a lot harder out there in the real world. Palmer's issues with sex and love are laid out in tiny doses throughout the song before building to her admission that she doesn't even know if she's capable of ever finding true love. Many people go through this, but it's not often you'll hear someone telling you about it (unless they be drunk!). When Amanda desperately pleads for someone to make, "the damn thing work," you know she's singing about her heart. Thankfully we know she got a happy ending of sorts. How long's she been married to Neil Gaiman now? (Matt Bond)

#8. Missed Me
Dresden Dolls Album: The Dresden Dolls (2003)

And they'll get you, mister, put you in the slammer,
And forget you, mister, then you'll miss me, won't you? 

You wouldn't call this fun, would you? Bright and cheery? Forget about it. 'Missed Me' is dark and creepy. It's Lolita, but with consequences for the antagonist. Just like Lolita, the subject matter makes 'Missed Me' unforgettable in an increasingly uncomfortable manner. No other band could pull this off; a song that's obviously about the inappropriate and wrong relationship between an older man and young girl (girl, not woman) that just leaves you shaking your head at how messed up everyone in the song is. And then it makes you want to listen to it again. Now, you need to understand that you're not crazy. The song's just incredibly well written and performed. Every little touch that went into creating it is magic. Basing the track on a nursery rhyme, the escalating insanity of the narrator (shades of Stockholm Syndrome or is it more like that Hard Candy movie?) and the Dolls' own penchant for theatrics go a long way to making this song more than just a song. It's a piece of art. Like most art, it won't be to everyone's taste, but it's still one of the greatest tracks penned by Amanda Palmer and one of my favourite vocal performances from her. When she howls to her jailed paramour, "WON'T YOU MISS ME?" I get chills. Chills, I tell you! (Matt Bond)

#7. The Point of It All
Album: Who Killed Amanda Palmer? (2008)

And you're learning that just 'cause they call themselves friends,
Doesn't mean they'll call... 

I think I want Amanda to write a novel. I think I would love that. She could be my new favourite author. I think she would take her readers on a journey unlike any other book I’ve read, through all sorts of highs and some incredible, incredible lows. I probably wouldn’t want to put it down until I’d read it cover to cover and I couldn’t read it in public. I would spend many a chapter laughing out loud and quite a few crying my eyes out. Maybe that’s not such a good idea then. Perhaps she should stick to her story telling skills in song form. After all, she does it so well in such short spaces of time, even a thousand pages of words couldn’t make me feel any more emotion than I already do when she sings, especially in songs like this one. Just some strings, her keys and her sweet soft voice. Like most of her songs, you can take of them what you like, they mean different things to every listener, but the thing is, it doesn’t matter how many times I hear this song, it takes me on such a journey I cannot help but stop and listen and every single play, by the time she gets to those last few lines, I have shivers up my spine and goosebumps on the back of my neck; “and just ‘cause they call themselves experts, it doesn’t mean sweet fuck all....they’ve got excitement and life by the fistful, but you’ve got the needle, I guess that’s the point of it all.” Oh Amanda. That lyric is an amazing and heartbreaking chapter in itself. Sigh. (Jo Michelmore)

#6. Ultima Esperanza
Dresden Dolls Album: No, Virginia (2008)

Knowing her name is enough,
Ultima Esperanza... 

I’m going to admit, if I had to write an Amanda Palmer top 20 countdown last year, this song may not have made my list but I was lucky enough to see it performed live at a Dresden Dolls gig earlier this year and it was the song that really blew me away; Amanda’s vocal was spine tingling, the emotion in her lyrics unbelievable. I left that gig wondering how I didn’t notice it before, how could I have possibly missed its beauty? Maybe it was just an mistake on my behalf, she has so many good tracks it’s hard to adore them all equally, but I walked away from the gig that night knowing I’d heard something special and it continues to be one of my favourites now. Its subject matter could be considered unusual, a love between two outsiders born via the internet, it’s not a song that just anyone could write, let alone sing so gorgeously, but of course, Amanda manages to take something so many would be terrified of and see the magnificence in it. There’s a frantic beauty in this song I like, a sense of urgency and adoration which all the greatest loves have, whether they are lived face to face or across the world and my favourite part is saved until the very end. Whether you think the title Ultima Esperanza is someone’s name or the words they translate as; ‘last hope’, that very last line is still the most melancholy and beautiful, because sometimes, for the lucky ones, it’s so true; “knowing her name is enough, Ultima Esperanza.” (Jo Michelmore)

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