Writing by Neil Kulkarni

Thursday, 15 December 2011

"Men are allowed to write songs about people and women are allowed to write songs about women"

11:48 Posted by neil kulkarni , , , 1 comment

"Before you can make good music, you just have to shut up. Then the music can say what it has to say." - Kristin Hersh

The last time I saw them was in 2003 and I wrote about if for Careless Talk Costs Lives. The only quote I can find from this review is "I went alone. Didn't want to share a damn thing. Like a wank or a bath, it was best taken alone cos they're mine, these songs are about me." I would never write that now, there is no bath in my house now, only a shower. I also interviewed Kristin once but I was so nervous and in awe I made a total pigs ear of it. This still happens more often than not. Luckily I can find no trace of that piece anywhere.

"The songs become the show, which is how it should be." - Kristin Hersh

However, I was able to find this double-headed album review from CTCL, issue 5, March/April 2003 which I love not for the writing but for the shot by the master, and fellow Coventrian, Steve Gullick. Click on it and squint a bit if you do want to read it.

(The first time I met Steve Gullick wasn't in Coventry. It was flying to Long Island to interview Public Enemy, my first ever time in the US. We were sat far apart from each other on the plane so the first time we actually spoke was in the cab to Manhattan. I remember coming over the Hudson over the bridge, eyes wide, heart pounding, just not believing I was seeing New York City lit up like a movie set, and there's Gullick, who'd seen it all before countless times, sat next to me & amazed that I was from Cov asking me 'what's Stoke Aldermoor like now? Is there still that pub called the 'Live & Let Live'? Sorry, total digression but it's tricky forgetting moments like that.)

"Men are allowed to write songs about people and women are allowed to write songs about women" - Kristin Hersh

Here’s a REBELLIOUS JUKEBOX from Melody Maker 1992 that I didn’t write but remember reading over and over and over and over again. It was this piece that led me to first hear ‘Up On The Sun’ so cheers Kristin, though I still think Steve Miller's a prick, sorry.

KRISTIN HERSH of THROWING MUSES talks about the records that changed her life:
Reproduced from Melody Maker, 25th July 1992.
1. VIOLENT FEMMES: "Add It Up" (from "Violent Femmes")

"This is definitely a teen angst song. People keep saying they sound like us. They’ve got this real wormy guy, this angry little rat. But that’s the only thing I can say that reminds me of me, this little wretch whining and shouting cos he wants to sleep with everybody - and nobody will. That’s what all his songs are about. I met him once. He’s really quite sweet. Did he ask to sleep with me? No."

2. BRIAN ENO: "Baby’s On Fire" (from "Here Come The Warm Jets")
"This is strikingly different from all his other stuff. It’s about 10 minutes long with a great bitchin’ guitar solo, but without being cock rock. I never realised that you could do that. Eno’s mean to be real cerebral, but this really moves me. Very few records do that these days. I hate everything! (Adopts crotchety eightysomething voice) They don’t make good music anymore, these crazy kids!"

3. X: "Blue Spark" (from "Under The Black Sun").
"This is just so beautiful. It’s kinda punk, I suppose. I heard it when I was about 13 or 14, which is pretty much when we started our band. In fact, we had three records out three years before we were legally allowed to play in clubs. Sometimes we’d play sets and then get kicked out when they found out how old we were. Actually, I got asked my age only the other night. One day, all of a sudden I’ll look 80. Then I’ll die."

4. THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: "Ocean" (from "V.U.")
"There’s this path along the cliffs where we live, and there’s ocean everywhere and - this will probably sound real goofy - this song is really like the ocean. It’s so quiet and pretty, and if there’s such a thing as a song that brings out Sensitive Emotions - capital S, capital E - then this is it. I don’t know if I’ve ever pulled it off myself, but The Velvet Underground certainly do here."

5. THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: "Black Angel’s Death Song" (from "The Velvet Underground And Nico")
"My father introduced me to the Velvets. When I was a kid he took me to Woodstock. I was a little, naked, hippy kid! And I went to Byrds concerts and Allen Ginsberg readings. You know, Ginsberg wrote me a poem once! Anyway, I love this song. It’s kinda droney. I heard a really incredible version recently that sounded completely different. Of course, that could have been cos I was on so many drugs at the time."

6. STEVE MILLER: "True Fine" (from "Book of Dreams")
"I totally worship Steve Miller, I think he’s incredible. I’ve been listening to him since I was nine, which might have something to do with it. He’s a pop-rock genius, but he’s so quiet about it. He’s so unpretentious, just this really faceless guy. This is kinda bouncy and Fifties. I guess you can dance to it. People dance to our music. And slamdance and stagedive. Do I ever stagedive? No, I’m too short."

7. HUSKER DU: "Chartered Trips" (from "Zen Arcade")
"It’s just a great song that completely falls apart, which is something I always wanted to do - write a song that crumbles in the middle, then picks up, then crumbles again. It never gets real chaotic, though. They’re too sweet to go totally apeshit. Bob Mould is just unbelievable. A friend of mine, when she first saw them, said ‘They’ve got this fat gay guy! And he wears a check shirt! Wow, that’s so cool!’"

8. R.E.M.: "Perfect Circle" (from ‘Murmur’)
"Michael (Stipe) got a bit performance arty for a while, but he seems to be calming down now. I guess that comes with the territory. I don’t have a driving ambition to be that famous myself, but I think the songs would eat me alive if I didn’t let them go … when I heard ‘Murmur’ I was about 15 - I was babysitting for this rock critic - and this just sounded like it came from outer space, like it came from another planet."

9. THE BEATLES: "Yer Blues" (from "The White Album")
"This is probably my favourite Beatles album - I like the way it’s kinda all glued together, a big collage, songs coming in and out. This one’s funny, but he (John Lennon) means what he’s yelling! ‘I don’t wanna die!’ I remember being in a bank and I had it in my head, and I was pushing my baby, and all these housewives were looking at me because I didn’t realise I was singing it out loud!"

10. VOLCANO SUNS: "Jak" (from "Bright Orange Sun")
"We’ve just covered this one on one of our B-sides. It’s a genius pop song. We used to play with them in Boston all the time. Their drummer sings and drums at once, his arms fly all over the place and there’s spit and sweat everywhere, but there’s no way he can be bad with all that going on! They were a great band. At the moment, I like Come and Pond. Pond! What a name! We were going to change our name once to Khulli Loach. It’s a type of fish. It’s a bit hard to pronounce, though. I mean, people have only just started getting Throwing Muses right."

11. MISSION OF BURMA: "Pica" (from "Verses")
"Mission of Burma are one of those bands that make you want to go out and start your own band. I think they’ve broken up now - their singer has tinnitus and he can’t hear properly. He just stares at you and comes up with some non sequitur, which makes him fascinating to talk to, but … we play really loud, louder than most bands. I like that. I like to feel the noise pumping in my chest. It feels healthy."

12. MEAT PUPPETS: "Up On The Sun" (from "Up On The Sun")
"I was listening a lot to this song when I was pregnant with Dylan, and we were working on our first album. We were out on this farm and there was nothing to do but listen to the Meat Puppets all day long. This is another one of those records from outer space. They must all have been doing drugs or something when they made this. No effects, no distortion, nothing. Perfect. I saw them the day before I went into labour with Dylan. It was probably the volume of the show that brought on the pregnancy!"

Love that shot from 88. Imagine if Kristin replaced Joey.

That Maker piece actually reminds me of my favourite Kristin quote, a favourite quote because it's hugely hugely true:  "I've always chosen my band members based on their sense of humour. It might sound stupid, but it means not only are they fun to live with on a tour bus for years, but humour implies intelligence".

"My parents didn't treat me as if there was anything in the world I couldn't do, except be unkind" - Kristin Hersh