Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Morning Cat Blogging

Cat Power, that is. Chan Marshall was still in her androgynous stage but imminently bangable (ask Bill Callahan about that since they'd just broken up a few months before but don't expect an answer), but it would have been like doing it with your little sister that adored you. You could do it, but the look of hurt in her eyes would have sent you into the guilts for the rest of your life.

"Metal Heart", live in a club in San Francisco in 1998, four years after she started playing gigs regularly in New York City clubs, six years after her roommate died in a car accident meaning she was losing her crib and a friend who had recently moved to New York City said "hey, I got space here, why not move to New York City?" and she moved to New York City and became an urban survivalist, 8 years after she bought that cheap Silvertone off of one of the musician customers at the pizza parlor where she worked with some vague idea of maybe learning how to play it someday, 9 1/2 years after she dropped out of high school at age 16 after the father she had idolized for much of her childhood spent away from him kicked her out of his apartment because he wanted to shack up with a new lover and told her to go figure out her own way to make a living and get by, which was why she found a room in a bad part of town and went to work at a nearby pizza parlor that happened to have a lot of musicians as customers. And that's just the highlights. She was way, WAY out of her comfort zone here and had been running on the edge without a net below her for far too much of her young life. And you can hear every bit of that in her voice here. Apparently the breakup with Bill hit her hard (this being the traditional "breakup song" of course)...

When she starts hollering as vs. whispering you can see her turn sideways and start hollering across the mike rather than into it. That's not because she's trying to avoid the audience, rather, that's a microphone technique for dealing with a cardoid (directional) microphone when you're doing the soft/loud soft/loud bit and don't want to crunch your voice too much in a compressor-- simply sing across the mike rather than into the mike when doing the loud part, and put a little more distance as needed to get the volume back down below the distortion point (if you listen closely the mike did go into distortion momentarily right before she turned sideways). Works better than expecting the mixer monkey to figure out in real time that he needs to slide your mike down in the mix during the loud parts. Today of course we have cheap compressors that can do that volume adjustment in real time. But that was 1998, and a young woman singing into a cheap cardoid microphone while playing a dimestore guitar. Different time, different era, different technology.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


  1. Heads Up (totally off topic):
    Penguin Beer story over at my place!
    and thanks for the Cat Power vid; nice way to start a Friday.

  2. Beats the Hell our of Black Friday. Thanks, Tux.


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