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Sunday, April 4, 2004

Coming to terms with one's own twisted loser
This is a battle I cannot win. Or rather a battle neither party can "win" because we are indeed comparing apples and oranges. Or red and orange as Alanis Morissette is fond of saying about awards shows.
Rodney Graham is not Nellie McKay. Nellie McKay is not Rodney Graham. Nor, I imagine, does she aspire to be.

But still, a few thoughts.

Carl on Rodney: "But he's still dead aware of the twisted loser behind the successful mask, and that capacity for double-consciousness is something that on my cursory listens (and readings) I don't think Nellie's developed so far."

I dare say "My" Nellie may never develop that. Should she, I would hope it comes many years down the road. Because "My" Nellie has, I imagine, spent the past 19 years being called a "twisted loser" by many an observer - little Timmy the schoolyard bully, Mrs. Stevens the grade 11 music teacher, etc. She is, then, more than permitted - encouraged in my mind - to flout a little musical "fuck you." And so she does - reveling in the Look At Me glory and rapturous applause her talents are receiving.

She'll have plenty of time for sad-eyed introspection and sighs of resignation when she's 35 and accepted her lot in life (though I'd be more than happy for such a stage to never occur in her case).

All of that said, I think her current level of double-consciousness might be a tad underestimated. I give you Inner Peace (the song, sadly not the actual state of enlightenment):

In high school it was cool to say
you look funny
you’re a retard dummy
a retarded dummy
yeah you suck out of luck
you’re no Playboy bunny
hee hee
so you laugh, it’s a gas
they’re right on the money
they’re just being funny, hysterically funny
yeah i’m stupid it’s true
now can we be chummy?
Maybe

But then it hits you, then it kicks you
then you realize you’re not unique
and you ignore it, you implore it
just to let you turn the other cheek
don’t wanna think about the schools in Bosnia
don’t wanna sing about food in Somalia
I don’t need this, I don’t see this
all I want is inner peace

Graduate but too late
college will just hurt you
soon they’ll all desert you
get your just desserts you
all essays MLA format they’ll convert you
Could they?
so you try it’s like pie
get just more alert you
they’ll not try to hurt you
only you can hurt you
so you say, so you play
they would not subvert you
Would they?

But then it hits you, then it kicks you
then you realize you’re not unique
and you ignore it, you implore it
just to let you get on through the week
don’t wanna think about the new armed forces
don’t wanna sing about no carriage horses
I don’t need this, I don’t see this
all I want is inner peace

You pretend it’s the end
ah yes I’m all grown now
uh-huh I’m at home now
fool, you’re never home now
even this laugh’ll pass
go answer your phone now
you’ll see
see I told you you’re old
now you’re all alone now
look ma how I’ve grown now
ain’t you proud I’m grown now
look this head is all dead
see how much you’ve done now
You pussy

But then it hits you, then it kicks you
then you realize you’re not unique
and you ignore it, you implore it
just to let you find the “om” you seek
don’t wanna think about the fall elections
don’t wanna sing about no vivisection
I don’t need this, I don’t see this
all I want is inner peace
inner peace


Obviously a "drama-school wit." But I have no doubt she is expressing her deepest fear when she sings, "But then it hits you, then it kicks you/ then you realize you're not unique."

Would this be considered deep self-analysis from the mouth of Mr. Graham? Of course not. But Graham (at least according to this) is 45. If he sounded like Nellie, I'd be concerned. (And if Nellie, at this point, sounded like him, we - I - probably wouldn't like her so much.)

The joy - at least to my ears - of McKay circa 2004 is the freshman form and flare; the excitement and exuberance of someone still marveling at the wonders of her own talents. That and the songs are so razor sharp. And funny.

We've already got a Randy Newman. And a Rodney Graham. And, for the matter, a Fiona Apple. I find solace in the fact that McKay doesn't yet seem to feel the need to match them angst for angst.

From conversations I have no doubt such angst exists - if for now only hidden beneath a bubbly layer of youthful arrogance. If, when or how it shows itself in the future remains to be seen.

For the moment, I quite enjoy what I hear.

P.S. Did we like Rufus Wainwright anymore once he started speaking openly of his "Gay Hell" and the inferiority complex about measuring up to dear old dad?
P.P.S. Is there a reason we - you - feel McKay needs to publicly come to terms with her own loserdom?
P.P.P.S. On an only maybe related note: I sometimes think we sometimes under-estimate that McKay "gets" her own jokes. Tongue is quite often firmly in cheek.
P.P.P.P.S. All the same I'm surely going to seek out more stuff (or all sorts) from Rodney.
P.P.P.P.P.S. This is all good fun. Thank the higher power of your choice for blogs. Cos the higher power of your choice certainly wouldn't allow us to do this in the pages of our principle employers.

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