Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Isadora Duncan", Little, 1990, New West Records



The first song on Vic's debut album 'Little' is a brilliantly descriptive, hauntingly poetic masterpiece based around ballet dancer, jealous romantic, "modern' Victorian and famed bi-sexual, Isadora Duncan.

The whole first album was recorded in just one day on October 6th, 1988 ("on well water...no juice" as Vic noted in the liner notes) with just basic acoustic guitar, croaking vocals, 'Dylanesque' harmonica, elementary keyboards and sparse overdubs.
The story goes that Michael Stipe would frequent Vic's Tuesday night residencies at the famed 40 Watt Club, in Athens. He was impressed by the quality and sheer volume of material that Vic performed during those shows and decided to commit some songs down on tape. It's doubtful that this was the first song recorded during those sessions, but it undoubtably, a beauty of an opener.

Vic once introduced this song as a 'bummer', but I can't imagine why. The melody is gorgeous, and musically it's a perfect representation of that period in Vic's life. His voice is shredding and unique. Just listen to his Southen gothic drawl on the word 'attitude.' His singing, even that early, was formidable and daunting.

Lyrically, the song is an unusual tet a tete involving love, romance, sarcasm and rejection. It was born out of a dare, from Vic's old La Di Da's bandmate Todd McBride, to write a song with the line "Once I dreamed I was dancing with Isadora Duncan." Vic once mentioned to me, that he hadn't listened to "Little" since the day it was recorded. If that is true, then it is unfortunate. What he crafted from that challenge is sheer poetry, in my opinion, and a song that echoes in my head for days on end. A beauty of an opener for a beauty of an album and worth repeated listening.

Lyrics and link below.

Also check out the fantastic cover, by the band Jolene, from their 1995 album "Hell's Half Acre."








Isadora Duncan

once I dreamed I was dancing with Isadora Duncan
in a silver cafe,
it was a cafe that was not at all near here
she was planning to diversify
and she sang I should do the same
so I whistled to her how I loved her the best

but she sang "I can't believe you own this attitude",
but with some ballet moves,
I removed her shoes
and I painted my lips to hers
and still she sang "I can't believe you own this attitude"
she sang "I can't believe you own this, this attitude"

she needed her beauty sleep
though I didn't want it to sound like that
her mind was occupied,
her hard coffee was cold by then as snow

and she sang "my smile is more than pearly white,
and my dreams are more than you",
she sang "my yellow eyes are more than mirrors,
and my scarf is more, more, more than blue."

and she sang "I can't believe you own this attitude"
yes i sang "I can't believe you own this, this attitude"

she closed her New Directions paperbook
and screamed "there is no shelter in the arts"
she'd been crying all day
but now her eyes they were brighter than the moon

and she sang "my smile is more than pearly white,
and my dreams are more than you",
she sang "my yellow eyes are more than mirrors,
and my scarf is more, more, more, more than blue."

and she sang "I can't believe you own this attitude"
"I can't believe it, I can't believe you own this attitude",
"I can't believe it, I can't believe you own this, this attitude".


Here's the Studio Version:




And a very rare live version from 1987 by The La Di Das:

2 comments:

  1. this was the first vic song I ever heard, and it's still my favorite. beautiful.

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