December 24, 2001

Sam Phillips and Songwriting

Category: Music :: Permalink

Sam Phillips's new CD, Fan Dance.

The other day, when I was out doing some Christmas shopping, I stopped in A&B Sound and listened to Sam Phillips’s new album, Fan Dance. I’d liked some of her earlier albums, and I’ve always enjoyed T-Bone Burnett’s work so I thought I’d give this one a try. I enjoyed the music a lot. It’s quirky, and she uses a variety of instruments. On one song, “Wasting My Time,” she’s backed up by solo cello. It sounds great!

Lyrically, however, the songs are disappointing. Most of them seem to be free-association, stream-of-consciousness stuff, a combination of words with very little coherence. It reminded me a bit of a song I once wrote with Tim Gallant:

A million blackbirds fly in the night
You don’t understand me
I look in the mirror and you die of fright
You don’t understand me
The sun keeps shining, except when it’s too bright
You don’t understand me
A million reasons to see you tonight
You don’t understand me

You don’t understand me
Not a word I say
You don’t understand me
See the tourist parade

And so forth. It was a long time ago. As I recall, we were deliberately parodying the obscure lyrics of people like Phillips, but it actually turned out to be one of the best songs we wrote together. Which may say something about the other songs, come to think of it. At any rate, I don’t know if I’ll be picking up Sam Phillips’s new CD yet or not. Anyone else heard it?

Posted by John Barach @ 4:37 pm | Discuss (0)

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