Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cat Power: A Good Woman by Elizabeth Goodman

This is another book I didn't go out of my way to seek was on the new book shelf at the library. I love Cat Power, especially the records she has made in the past ten years. I saw her play a few times in the late 90's/early 00's and it was...bizarre. I mean, seriously strange performance style. I was told that it was not an act, that she was having some problems. I also don't know very much about Chan Marshall, so I decided I would read the book. I met her at a Matador festival in London one night when everyone was very drunk. Members of Comet Gain, Unwound, Emily's Sassy Lime, Sleater-Kinney, Huggy Bear and whoever else was around got talked into going to this "Indie" night at a disco. The flyer listed several of our bands on it as records the DJ was going to play, so the logic was that if we could just get everyone to this club, which was across town, then we could just explain that they need to let us in free. I don't remember if Chan came with us or not, but I have a bunch of pictures of her boots and there are some very strange pictures of both of us, where our faces seem to be made of silly putty. We were, silly putty drunk. I remember a bunch of boys peeing into mail slots and the cops coming and then running to the train station and crawling on hands and knees to bunk fare (this is english slang for not paying to go on the subway) and then having to pay to go to the club and members of certain bands hailing expensive cabs and then ....well...some things are better left as memories. Anyhow, this kind of zaniness is what I associate with Cat Power and if the book is at all to be believed this would be a typical kind of situation for her. She probably just went back to her hotel room actually, but she seemed just as crazed as everyone else, which is kind of intense for someone on tour.
I should say, the book is UNAUTHORIZED and therefore it's probably unethical for me to write about it or for you to read it. Well if you are interested you will probably read it anyways. I think she's a great songwriter/performer who makes good records and someday we'll get the real story about her life. This author is shitty and I actually think she hates women. She pretty much says as much at one point. She also comes across as a disrespectful, sycophantic parasite. I wouldn't put it past her to have made this whole story up. So whatever. It's a story, she's a public figure....but that really doesn't mean ethics go out the window, right? Someday I'll stop reading this kind of thing.


Tobi Vail said...

ok here's that quote by the author that bummed me out. i guess it's supposed to be funny or a joke but it's really just a shitty thing to say. she thanks two of her friends by saying "I never wanted sisters because girls are evil...bla bla bla"
why is it ok for a woman to say something like that?
reading it after I read the book, it kind of clicked. oh, she is a woman who doesn't like (or doesn't trust) other women...maybe that's why it comes across as a catty betrayal.
it's also just weird--the author is a mediocre writer that doesn't have a big audience. chan marshall is a serious artist. her work is profoundly moving and there are very few people making records at this level in this "genre" or whatever right now. she deserves to be written about by a critic who is reverent of her power as an artist. I feel like this writer just wanted to write the book on Cat Power before someone else did so she can further herself in her career as a writer and really there is no integrity to this project on any level. It's amateurishly written entertainment schlock. And why do we need this about someone who writes songs this good? We really don't. My fault for reading it. So much for trying not to write about it.

whatwewantisfree said...

I read through it at a bookstore here and thought it was bitchy and self-reverent in a weird way... that "enough about you, back to me" school of rock journalism at its most petty level

Tobi Vail said...

here is her story in her own words: