August 20, 2012


Marry Me, Cat Power: 9 New Reasons to Love Chan Marshall

David Corio
David Corio

I've always had a thing for the crazy, beautiful and crazy-beautiful artist type girls. I'm not alone here, and no artist fits that description better than Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall. 

The 40-year-old singer-songwriter has been mesmerizing ears (and hearts) since her soul-storm of a voice debuted in the mid-'90s. After a particularly rough bout with alcoholism and mental issues (also part of the above description), she returns this fall with Sun and she seems, well, sunnier and more assured of herself than ever. The storm that is Cat Power seems to have centered around its calm, still and safe eye.  

The Guardian just released a fantastic profile on Cat Power, in which the writer, Hermione Hoby (so British, right?), was granted access to Marshall's Miami condo, life and, most importantly, psyche. Here are the 9 tidbits that made me fall in love with Cat Power all over again. And, yes, that marriage proposal stands.

She's Drinking Again: After a period of sobriety following her alcoholism and mental meltdown, she's back at the bar—but now in a seemingly more controlled way that actually works. "As far as drinking companions go, Marshall is the opposite of a nightmare—she buys rounds, proffers cigarettes and charms and disarms a swelling crowd of strangers with her irrepressible shimmying around the dance floor," Hoby writes of her encounter at a beachside Miami bar. Earlier, they two are "settled with tequila and cigarettes" on the terrace of Marhsall's Miami condo.

Marshall Has Found Some Zen: Hoby writes, "[Marshall] admits that she's done much less 'shaking hands with the dark side' on this [new album]. Marshall has always used the word 'triumphant' to describe her music, which, hearing the raw sorrow of her first three albums, seemed ridiculous. Now she's made an album that fits the description."

The Lyrics Are Uplifting, Too: "Even the most plaintively titled track, 'Always On My Own,' has at its heart an affirmative 'I want to live my way of living' attitude," writes Hoby. "That sentiment is magnified on the album's penultimate song, a joyfully unspooling 11 minutes titled 'Nothing But Time,' on which [Marshall] exults: "It's up to you/ To be a superhero/ It's up to you/ To be like nobody.' There are shouts of 'they wanna live!' in the background before Iggy Pop joins her in the refrain: 'The world is just beginning.'"

Marshall's New Life Motto Is Inspiring: "[I have been] empowering myself to realize that no other human, no matter who it is, can invalidate my way of thinking. I'm triumphing over all the different ways in my life I've been invalidated and I can still smile and laugh and know that in my heart I'm making the right choices for myself. Maybe somebody else doesn't agree but that's not my problem... We're born and we die alone, I guess. So you have to take care of yourself... I'm better at understanding that I have to. I always thought I was going to pass away or whatever... But I don't want to pass away any more. I want to keep [she drops her head and claps her hands twice above her in the air, smartly, like she's sealing a spell] living."

She Still Melts Rocker Dudes' Hearts: Writes Hoby, "She once said that all creativity comes from a place where we don't have love and she's standing by that. "Because," [Marshall] says, upping her southern twang, "if we had love we'd be busy fucken'!" 

She Melts Hearts Again, Again & Again: "I wonder whether not having love is a perverse sort of blessing, in terms of yielding songs such as these," writes Hoby. "[Marshall] frowns. 'You crazy? Love is much better than creativity!' So if she had to choose between never writing a song again and… 'Love!' she cries before I can finish. 'You kiddin' me?'"

Awesome Random Fanboy Fact: Marshall worked in a pizza parlour called Fellini's for three years in Atlanta and "gained local fame as the hottie behind the counter."

She Loves Kurt Cobain: Writes Hoby, "The song 'I Don't Blame You,' from 2003's You Are Free, has been taken as a rejection of fans' demands, specifically the lines: 'They never owned it/ And you never owed it to them anyway.' Online message boards have been filled with speculation over who it's about – Marshall herself or some other fame-troubled singer? 'I've never told anybody this,' she says, 'but that is about Kurt Cobain. It's about him blowing his head off.'"

And One Last Romantic Blow to the Heart Just Because: Hoby and Marshall are poolside, drinking tequila and Nina Simone is on the radio singing, "For we're creatures of the wind ... and wild is the wind." Then, writes Hoby, "by some uncanny magic, the palm trees begin to stir and the night erupts into a rainstorm. Rods of water begin hammering the surface of the pool, but Marshall can't be persuaded indoors. She remains sitting between those palm trees in the turquoise pool light, cross-legged, rocking back and forth, smoking in the rain."

Gggggguuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhh... [holds chest, falls face down]