Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Whitneypedia / G:TB Artist of the... Time Period

From time to time we at Gheorghe: The Blog and Music Authority receive inquiries asking, "What's that song . . . ?" Occasionally you aren't just singing Replacements lyrics, you're actually posing a question. More and more these days, you want to know what song is the backdrop to television commercials, because, frankly, there's more and more cash money being dished out by companies to acquire good songs for their ads.

The argument as to whether this practice is "selling out" by musicians is a rather circular and pointless one, and that's not what we're here today to discuss. Instead, we choose to focus on one artist who is currently defying all conventional wisdom and maintaining her cool street cred while ostensibly being just this side of Wayne Newton in terms of commercializing herself.

Her name is Cat Power. Actually, that's not true, her given name is Charlyn Marshall, and she's known to friends and family as Chan Marshall, but her stage name is Cat Power. Fairly uncommon are the rabid fans of both major league baseball and indie rock, but those of you straddling both categories have undoubtedly thought of Cat Power just about every time Cubs pitcher (and former VCU standout) Sean Marshall was mentioned during a telecast. (Alas, that's not happening much these days with the Cubbies bowing out gracelessly.) Oh, and I recently read that Sean Marshall's nickname in some circles is "Coolcat." Coincidence? . . . Yep.

But I digress. I've been a fan of Ms. Marshall's for a handful of years, mostly because her sultry voice matches her slender physique in fetching sexiness. I caught her at the 9:30 Club a few years ago, and though her stage act wasn't quite as sonically sharp as her studio work, she's well worth watching. If you want a quick sampler of her work, try the songs "He War," "The Greatest," "Love & Communication," "Cross Bones Style," or "I Don't Blame You." (And most of her work is available via eMusic, for those who utilize that.)

Cat Power has also become the queen of the covers. She released a covers record in 2000 called . . . well, The Covers Record. (Check out "Sea of Love" or "Satisfaction.") In January of this year she did another one entitled Jukebox. ("New York" is a nice rendition.) A third -- an EP, actually -- is coming out in December; it's reported she covers The Pogues, which can't be a bad thing. Clearly putting her own spin on old tunes is becoming her thing.

Now, much has been written (by me) already about cover songs and how they can either be executed deftly or bungled. For the most part, Chan Marshall's work in this area is inventive and new, and for that, she's commended and the tunes are recommended. Still, leaning too much on other people's work is risky business: you could be the next Elvis, or you could be the next latter-day UB40. (To sample UB40 when they were a brilliant young reggae act with something to say and not a tired cover band, try "Food for Thought" or "Tyler".)

Even more dangerous, Ms. Marshall has begun covering parts of songs for :30 spots on TV. Have a listen to her work for

DeBeers (covering Cat Stevens):



Cingular (covering Blondie's cover of The Nerves):



Lincoln (covering Bowie):



Throughout it all, I'd say Cat Power acquits herself fairly well in each instance. In fact, I wouldn't mind getting ahold of the full tracks in each case . . . except that they don't exist. She only bothered to record the thirtysecond snippet. Damn her efficiency.

At any rate, now you know the woman behind the voice behind those commercials. And the next time one comes on the tube, you'll tell a friend, yeah, that's Cat Power. And they'll say, "What, like the diesel engines?"

51 comments:

rob said...

so *that's* where whitney's been.

TJ said...

Holy shit he's alive...

rob said...

stepped all over your nkotb review, didn't he?

Whitney said...

Yeah, I'm back.

I heard more than one rumor that I had run off with Queen Beaches' KQ. I can assure you that there is not a lick of truth to that cockamamie accusation.

rob said...

but that's a nice job of putting it out there. perception is a powerful thing.

TJ said...

You cannot stop the NKOTB review, you can only hope to cantain it.

rob said...

i like how you enjoyed that response so much you dropped it in two places. typo and all.

TJ said...

Hey rob, why don't you lick my balls.

rob said...

you're saying that to me quite often of late. got a pervasive case of the mondays?

TJ said...

"Corporate Accounts Payable, rob speaking, just a moment..."

rob said...

i wonder how pissy teejay will be if the red sox win the world series. i'm willing to find out.

TJ said...

Good to hear, because you just jinxed them. But don't worry, ill be sure to remind you. Often.

Whitney said...

Wait, I came back for this?

As an aside, the Cingular commercial tagline "more bars in more places" has always appealed to me. Not sure why.

rob said...

i know jinxes, i served with jinxes. that, sir, is no jinx.

you and dan shaughnessy would have big fun together.

TJ said...

OK, the new SVP "bedwetter" SporstCenter commercial is funny.

Whitney said...

Honestly, you two clowns and your sniping are starting to make G:TB seem like the heterosexual version of the Wheelhouse.

TJ said...

And yes tiny red sox guy, more typos. I know. Simmah down naw.

rob said...

i liked it better when schoolmarm whitney was busy downloading bootleg european import records from bulgarian peer-to-peer sites.

TJ said...

Whit, those guys are gay? Come on.

rob said...

one of them hides it better than the other.

Mark said...

If you call leaving the country for "work" hiding it well, then I guess you're right.

TJ said...

Squirrel, Rick Reilly just said it was a lock the Red Sox win the World Series. Yep...hopefully tomorrow Skip Bayless will agree.

Zoltan said...

This is why you need the iPhone with the beat sniffer, or whatever that thing is called that can listen to ambient music and tell you what song it is.

Whitney said...

Sounds like Zoltan wants a job over at the Wheelhouse.

Greg said...

Well done Whit. It's that voice.

TJ said...

Just another fun day at a Florida fair:

MIAMI - Fairgoers at a central Florida carnival caught a 2-year-old girl whose mother was forced to drop her after they were both stranded 30 feet off the ground on a ride.

Paramedics also rescued the woman. No injuries were reported.

The "Crazy Bus" kiddie ride, which rotates like a small Ferris wheel, began to move as passengers were trying to exit Saturday, forcing Sherri Pinkerton to dangle by one arm while holding her daughter, Gracie, in the other.

She then dropped the girl, who was caught by fairgoers.

Geoff said...

I'm the one who's worse at hiding...right? Yeah, definitely. I mean, I am wearing a pink tie today...

rob said...

mark, care to comment on ricky jean-francois?

TJ said...

I get a real Ollie Williams vibe from RJF...

Whitney said...

Leo's Getting Larger:
In 1988 there were precisely 3 major league baseball players weighing 250 lbs or more.

In 1998, there were 6.

This year there were 23. That there's a lot more poly-blend being utilized.

(And if you can name one of the trio of 1988 hefties, Rob and a certain legion of online Red Sox commentors will applaud you snarkily.)

(Courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com)

Dennis said...

One of my favorite iPod selections when I "used" to ride the Irish taxi home from work happy hours was Cat Power's "Cross Bones Style". I found it so hypnotic that my mind easily blocked out the horrible traffic patterns in this town and allowed me to see driving lanes that other mere mortals couldn't (like how playing pool on mushrooms allows you to see pocket angles the sober can not)...and as a nice subconscious effect, it's about as fitting a tune out there to have on a loop if I flipped the car and got stuck upside down on an embankment.

TJ said...

I say Cecil Fielder, Rob Deer...and Sam Horn.

Geoff said...

Was Fernando still around in 88?

Geoff said...

And what about Dave Parker?

rob said...

i'll go with terry forster, in addition to cecil and the great sam horn.

Geoff said...

Fernando Valenzuela is listed as 195lbs.

TJ said...

That's one heckuva scale.

rob said...

terry forster retired in 1986. back to the drawing board.

rob said...

steve balboni is listed at 225, but that's a load of crap.

Whitney said...

Cecil Fielder is listed at 240 lbs. Uh, right. Although '88 was early on, even before he went to Japan.

Sorry to make you guess for an impossible question - Sam Horn was the one I was going for. Teejay wins. The others were the legendary Joey Meyer and Tim Stoddard.

That Sam Horn and Rich "El Guapo" Garces made the list the same year (more than once) has to make the Nation smile.

Here's the list of all beefy players from 1988 til now.

TJ said...

That's a fantastic list.

Boof Bonser, you fat load.

rob said...

mo vaughn never makes that list? bullsheeeeit.

Mark said...

Rob...I do not care to comment on Ricky Jean Francois as he scares me and the depleted interior of the Gator O-line to death. He's a beast and what makes it worse is he originally committed to Florida before signing with LSU on NSD.

FWIW, I'll be going to that game this weekend and writing a little something about it before I depart tomorrow night.

TJ said...

I might disagree with that list even more than that VH1 Top 100 Hip Hop Songs list.

TJ said...

Mark, be sure to yell "SWIMMING HOLE!!!" at Ricky at least once for me.

Whitney said...

Good call on the hideous absence of Mo Vaughn. He was a lesser planet at the end of his tenure.

Whitney said...

New York Times
Published: November 2, 2002

"The Mets spent most of last season wincing as Mo Vaughn struggled to return to form as a hitter after missing a season because of injury. Left unsaid much of the time was that Vaughn appeared overweight.

Now Fred Wilpon, the Mets' owner, has informed Vaughn that he would be in violation of a 'physical condition' clause in his contract and could have his contract voided if he does not address his conditioning during the off-season.

Vaughn, who was listed last season as 275 pounds, vowed publicly on Sept. 6 to get in better shape. He has begun working with a doctor, a nutritionist and a personal trainer who works part time for the Mets near his off-season home in Columbus, Ohio."

Okay, so that list is wrong.

Zoltan said...

Where's David Wells? Did I miss him?

amanda young said...

This commercial is brilliant. The slogan at the end is one of the greatest of all time. Everything about this from the song to the camera angles is great, especially when he can't help but start to smile at her. Amanda Vanderpool

Ramon Johnson said...

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Ramon Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.