Thursday, October 27, 2005

Amy Rigby

New direction here at the blog. In addition to the regularly indulged obsessions, I'm adding mp3/music-blogging to the mix. Here we go.

The Trouble With Jeanie [mp3, 3.5 mb]

Amy Rigby is a matchless songwriter who makes me feel like I'm living in a parallel reality. I ask myself: Why isn't she heard at every street corner, in every bar, on every iPod? I discovered her ten years ago on her debut, Diary Of A Mod Housewife. She's made five albums, all superb. When I think of her, I wonder: what more does she have to do to prove her worth?

Amy is a brainiac lyricist. Robert Christgau, dean of rock critics, reviewed her latest, Little Fugitive, recently. Well-known for being stingy with praise, he wrote: "It really is quite simple: no one of any gender or generation has written as many good songs in Rigby's realistic postfolk mode since she launched Diary of a Mod Housewife in 1996."

Amy has a voice to cozy up to — it's like she's sitting next to you on the couch, talking: "Jeanie is my new husband's ex-wife/It looks like she's gonna be a part of my life." Her songs are detailed, novelistic. Her subjects are quotidian: marriage, raising kids, sex, having a crush on the bookstore clerk.

The arrangement on "The Trouble With Jeanie" consists of: (1) an acoustic-based country-rock skeleton; (2) quiet, glowing guitars; (3) chiming harpsichord arpeggios; and (4) plenty of sonic room for Amy's woman-next-door voice. Meanwhile, her gem-like writing sits front and center, as it should.

Fun reading: Amy's diary at her site.


Blogger girish said...

In case the drawing above appears arcane: it's a reference to Ganesh, Hindu god of new beginnings. :-)

This being the maiden voyage, could you please let me know if you have trouble downloading? Thanks.

A shout-out of gratitude to the proprietor of Tuwa's Shanty for his encouragement and for hooking me up with the file hosting service: merci!

October 27, 2005 9:02 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

It downloaded, yes. I like the melody and the country tinge to it, and (as you know) the lyrics are impressive.

Thanks for the shout-out. Back atcha.

October 27, 2005 9:17 PM  
Blogger girish said...


October 27, 2005 9:39 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Ooooh. A new musical component. Nice.

October 28, 2005 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

First, Girish, let me say that I applaud the new direction of your blog. The file downloaded fine for me. Second, let me say what a nice suprise Amy Rigby is. I devour music like sports fans devour beer, and so after listening to the tune, I thought to myself, how have I missed her? Her voice has no frills, which is good, and I like the little change she does when she sings the words "nothing but good". The timbre of her voice is perfect for the chorus.

I immediately noticed the harpsichord, but thought, "nah, that can't be" -- only because you so rarely hear it in pop music and it's hard to work it into an arrangement. It reminds me of another song that uses a harpsichord to great effect -- Tori Amos's "Tear in Your Hand."

All in all, nicely done.

October 28, 2005 1:31 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael, I'm tickled pink that you discovered Amy Rigby through this post. (The post has already served its purpose.)
Nice call on the Tori Amos.
Thanks, Michael.

October 28, 2005 8:08 AM  
Blogger rdl said...

Love the song! and the Hindu elephant too. I used to have a small pencil copy I made of one in college that I discovered. It's long gone but I think it was supposed to protect the inhabitants of the house from harm if painted on a handkerchief. might have to go look for another one.

October 28, 2005 9:27 AM  
Blogger girish said...

rdl, I'm glad you liked the song. Yes, elephants are ubiquitous in the Indian household. And Ganesh--whatta guy.

Off-topic but funny: a subway ride.

October 28, 2005 1:36 PM  
Anonymous dvd said...

Girish, what's your opinion (if any) of Martha Wainwright?

October 28, 2005 1:56 PM  
Blogger girish said...

David, I just know one tune ["Bloody Motherf***ing..."], which is great. I'd like to hear the rest of the record.
I am, however, a huge fan of her dad, Loudon (Career Moves from 1993 is tops, I think) and her mom & aunt (Kate & Anna McGarrigle). Rufus I can't get into quite as easily, though I do find him interesting.
David, do you like Martha's album?

October 28, 2005 2:06 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Ben fans the flames of a spirited exchange.

October 28, 2005 2:55 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Good God, what a train wreck on that comics thread.

A word about the Sandman: in my opinion it starts off a little rough, but keeps getting better, and then by the end of The Kindly Ones, wowza. Great stuff.

Try to read them in order, or at least read vols. 7-10 last. That part matters.

October 28, 2005 3:10 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Sandman it is.
Would be ideal for the nice, long Christmas break coming up.

October 28, 2005 3:18 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Tuwa-- it is indeed one massive train wreck.

October 28, 2005 5:10 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Someone please give Ben a snark medal.

October 28, 2005 11:01 PM  
Anonymous dvd said...

I originally planned to post something in that comics thread...and then it just got kinda pointless. Fun reading, though.

Girish, the BMFA song from Martha is probably her best. The whole album is reallg good, if a little typical, but her voice is just so enchanting that it elevates it above the typical singer/songwriter material some of her chord progression might suggest.

I like Loudon, too - and I love Rufus. Especially his last two records, which are heads and shoulders above his others.

October 29, 2005 3:07 AM  
Blogger girish said...

David, I don't have one of Rufus' albums because in my experience, he's been coffeeshopped to death. But I haven't really heard him, if you know what I mean.
I will pick up the last two--they're at my local public library. I love his cover of the Beatles' "Across The Universe" on the I Am Sam soundtrack. (Also love Aimee Mann and Michael Penn's cover of "Two Of Us" on there).

And I just added myself to Chuck's reader map.

October 29, 2005 8:04 AM  
Anonymous dvd said...

Yeah, his first two albums are very coffeeshop-ish, and are best digested after one has experienced the dual 'Want' records, which are on a whole new level.

October 29, 2005 2:10 PM  

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