Monday, February 08, 2010


The band Cat Power (Chan Marshall, Tim Foljahn, Steve Shelley) with Chan's song "Nude as the News". This was off of their third album, What would the Community Think, where Steve and Tim finally figured out how to properly accompany Chan's painful and enigmatic songs rather than just sort of riffing around her in an uneasy dance.

If Chan had not driven Steve and Tim away, she would probably have achieved mainstream success by the end of the 1990's, because with each album her songwriting was getting stronger and the sound they'd come up with to build around her songs was a sound that had great mainstream potential. But Chan was always her own worst enemy. Her behavior had become increasingly bizarre, she was driving Steve crazy with her erratic performance at shows, and finally stabbed Steve in the back by signing to Matador after she'd already verbally committed to his own label (which had published her second album). So she ended up going solo after the guys left, made a brief disastrous drunken solo tour co-headlining with the band Guv'ner of mostly-empty bars where she made drunken passes at every cute guy she came across ("a flame gun for the cute ones" indeed), and then basically retired from music (without telling her label, Matador!) until she got bored silly and went to Australia to make an album (Moon Pix) with a couple of other cute guys.

Chan looks like she's about 12 years old in this video. She was actually 23. And had already made three albums in a two-year timespan (albeit two of them were made in the same session but released at different times) and had a minor college radio hit with "Nude as the News". Success was so close she could smell it... and she ran the other way as fast as she could, because she couldn't cope with it, not at all. In recent interviews Tim just shakes his head and says something along the lines of, "Somebody hurt that girl, bad, when she was a kid." Sadly, very few kids who've gone through that kind of trauma can cope with a life that has a lot of stress in it... like, say, the life of a performing musician. Which presents an irreconcilable conflict when music happens to be the only thing you're really good at, as is the case with Chan...

- Badtux the Music Penguin

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