soundtracking with Jordan Zivitz august 2009: Antony, Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Captain BeefheartAugust 11, 2009
The latest from 11th ave’s resident deejay, Jordan Zivitz. Mr. Music, please.
This month: Three voices that are likely to either send you to heaven
or send you screaming for the hills. I don’t know many people who are
indifferent to these warblers, yelpers and growlers. (In that order.)
Antony: If It Be Your Will
The first time I saw Antony live, he was a backup vocalist in Lou
Reed’s band. After the show, I didn’t hear anyone discussing Lou;
everybody was wondering about that otherworldly man-mountain at the
side of the stage, singing as if he was trying to jump out of his own
skin. Love or hate Antony, his voice isn’t easily forgotten: a
swooping, fluttering force of nature. This clip came from the Leonard
Cohen biopic/tribute concert I’m Your Man (hence Cohen’s mid-song
intrusion); as with Lou’s concert, everyone I know who went to see the
film came back raving about how Antony stole the show.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy: Easy Does It
I would rate Will Oldham – a.k.a. Bonnie “Prince” Billy, a.k.a. about
17 other pseudonyms – as one of the best American songwriters of the
last 20 years, but concede that his … um … unstable vocals can be a
sticking point. After years of listening to Mr. Billy, his search for
the lost chord has become endearing; even when I was flustered by that
chronic wobble, though, I loved the songs. The communal joy in this
one would be perfect for a campfire sing-along, if I had a campfire.
Or a better voice than Bonnie’s. No clue what’s up with the home
movies in this YouTube clip … I don’t think it’s an official video, but
that might be Oldham in an elephant suit.
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: Electricity
The ne-plus-ultra of polarizing vocalists, the good captain’s devilish
throat ravagings make Tom Waits sound like Manilow with a mild flu.
There’s a possibly apocryphal tale about Beefheart blowing out a
pricey microphone while recording this track, just by singing. If you
can qualify his traumatic “eee-leh-eh-ehc-tri-ci-teeeeeee” as singing; I’d qualify it as a supernatural phenomenon. (While I was playing this clip, Buster The Cat – who’s tolerant enough to sit with me as I listen to pretentious German bands clanking copper pipes together – left claw marks on my legs in his haste to flee the room. Haven’t seen him since.)
Montreal writer, editor, nursemaid Jordan Zivitz is preparing for another Nick Cave tour. Buster The Cat is not.