26 March 2006


Neko Case:
"Western culture is into making everyone's feelings black and white. If you're sad, that's negative, automatically. Well, sadness has many parts to it. It can be very gratifying. I'm not saying I sit around being sad all the time, but when I am sad, now, I pay attention to it." On Fox Confessor, the notions she's exploring aren't nearly as polar as happy and sad--they are a zillion shades of gray, each with its own emotional twinge conveyed by an insignificant, sometimes even unrelated, visual image. As these fall together, line by line, what began as a series of disconnected ideas arranges itself into a kind of fable. Consider "Star Witness," which traces a life observed at close range in a Chicago neighborhood. Its seemingly disconnected events are rendered in such detail it sounds like it could be nothing but autobiography. Case insists the song is not about her. "You notice pretty mundane and strange things about people when bad things happen to them," she says to explain such odd images as glass in a thermos or a nightgown sweeping the street clean. "Your mind focuses on how bad the thing is, but somehow the nightgown becomes the memory for you. Maybe that's how we avoid post-traumatic stress. The brain is always working to protect you. It'll suspend you in a tiny moment, and that will become the title page in your memory. A lot of these songs have those kinds of odd signifiers in them." [...]

In the middle of a long conversation about Faust, the epic allegorical tale she reread during the making of Fox Confessor, she worries that she's going to sound snooty. "I hate those celebrity interviews like in Vanity Fair, where they're talking about some book they've read and how it has important lessons for the rest of us. To me it's very pompous, like they need to appear cerebral. I'm the opposite of that: When I read Faust I realize how stupid I am. And in a way I feel so much better. There's joy and comfort in that, in not knowing everything and allowing yourself to be awed a little bit."
Also: I spent some time yesterday examining her video for "Maybe Sparrow" and loved the visual implications given to the evocative music.

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