I met Chan Marshall on the internet about three years ago. We were both listed in the Yahoo Membership Directory and, of course, in disguise. I remember her listing saying that she was concerned about the melting of the polar ice caps and running low on toilet paper. Amused, I dropped her a note telling her that the polar caps would probably hold for a while, but to keep a close eye on the toilet paper. First thing you know, we were chatting and developed an internet friendship. Nice lady. Pleasant. Friendly. Funny. Interesting. We ultimately revealed our true identities to one another. I looked up Cat Power on Amazon.com, bought the "You are Free" disc and liked it from the first listen. Later, I purchased "The Covers Record" CD and liked it too. At about that time, Cat Power came through San Diego. A couple friends and I went downtown for a listen. When we got to the venue, there was a good-sized crowd milling around and looking somewhat disgruntled. It seems the concert was sold out. What a disappointment! I then took out a very small piece of paper, wrote a note to Chan explaining our difficulties and asking if there was anything she could do. I gave it to a venue worker and he took it in to her. About five minutes later, all three of us were admitted without tickets and at no cost. What a nice thing for her to do! We enjoyed the concert and I thought "Good Woman" was the best song of the evening. My only regret was in not getting to meet Chan in person.
I bought "The Greatest" CD the week it came out. I listened to it once and put it away. Somehow, I have to be in the right mood to listen to Cat Power Music, and the time wasn't right.I was too hard pressed with too many things. Now, six months later I'm listening again. It's a splendid and elegant CD. Chan's voice is in beautiful form and she`s backed by a terrific band. Strings, guitar, slide guitar, sax, piano, organ, bass drums and voices lightly and skillfully fill in the backdrop behind Chan's vocals, but they never intrude. The arrangements are exquisite. All of the songs are excellent (I seem to have an extra bonus track) and the quality and style is much more uniform than on the "You are Free" CD. The music is slower, softer, generally more melodic and with a slightly countryish or folkish slant. The arrangements and production are elegant and the songs are of such uniform and high quality that I'm hard-pressed to come up with favorites. OK, I'll try. I'd say "Empty Shell," "Willie," "Islands," and "Love & Communication" might be the best, but only by a tiny margin. IWith a slightly different mood, I might have another list.
I enjoy listening to Cat Power music, but I have difficulty interpreting the songs. On this particular CD, all the lyrics are printed on the inside of the cover, so I can follow along line by line, but I still have trouble interpreting the songs. It seems strange that I'd enjoy the music so much and even get a bit teary eyed in places, even though I don't understand the song. Evidently, Chan is very skilled in conveying deep emotions through her voice alone. Then along comes a song like "Hate." Chan, Hon, we all love you; don't hate yourself and want to die.