27 Listicle Series: Mary Webb

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Captivating and unique, Mary Webb recently announced her new single Gecko Fingers, a stirring ode to the relationship shared between sisters. Gecko Fingers is the first taste of Mary’s new album Love Like Planets, a spectacular body of work that explores the complexities of modern relationships and personal rediscovery, set for release on February 16.

We caught up with Mary Webb to discover her ultimate Listicle of the Top Five best lyricists of all time.  Take a look at what she had to say about phenomenal song writers:

 

You might notice that the artists on the list have quite a lot in common. I love a whole range of music, and if I’d tried to make it representative, you’d see a very different list. But these are writers I’ve been moved by, been obsessed with, and perhaps shaped myself to. They speak to me on a deep, personal level and they help me know myself better. Listening to their own process of self-discovery has guided my own, and given me courage to keep at it. They’ve been strong role models for me, as women and as artists. If you can find the written lyrics for these artists, it’s definitely worth delving in sans-music sometimes, for a fresh view.

Joni Mitchell

If you don’t know Joni Mitchell, it’s time you did, because she is one of the greatest songwriters of all time. She grew up in Canada, then moved to the US in 1965, at age 22, where she began a life of touring and recording. She put out 19 studio albums in 39 years. The effects of having childhood polio apparently triggered her pursuit of art, with a renewed interest in painting, dancing and music, and her stiff fingers caused her to find the alternative tunings for which she became renowned. Her lyrics often include political and social commentary, but just as often are about her romantic relationships and the roller-coaster ride that can be. Sometimes she uses one as a metaphor for the other, like in ‘Blue Motel Room’ from her album Hejira.

You and me, we’re like America and Russia
We’re always keeping score
We’re always balancing the power
And that can get to be a cold cold war
We’re going to have to hold ourselves a peace talk
In some neutral cafe
You lay down your sneaking ‘round the town, honey
And I’ll lay down the highway” 

Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls) 

Amanda Palmer is so much about words and theatre and energy and making a point. Her music is dark punk-cabaret-rock-etc. She sings to communicate, not to sound pretty. She’s outspoken, and she’s scarily open with her fans and the world about her inner workings. She’s made a career out of vulnerability, which of course gives others permission and confidence to be vulnerable themselves. She writes all sorts of wacky songs about all sorts of things, and they are great, I mean, her music is potentially life-changing stuff. And while you’re at it, read all her blogs, and her book ‘The Art Of Asking’. Ever since my friend John and I made a home video clip to ‘Ukelele Anthem’ for our friend Hannah (dressed up as punk superheros) I haven’t moved on from this song.

“Sid Vicous played a four-string Fender bass guitar and couldn’t sing

And everybody hated him except the ones who loved him

A ukulele has four strings, but Sid did not play ukulele

He did smack and probably killed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen

If only Sid had had a ukulele, maybe he would have been happy

Maybe he would not have suffered such a sad end

He maybe would have not done all that heroin in stead

He maybe would’ve sat around just singing nice songs to his girlfriend

So play your favourite cover song, especially if the words are wrong

‘Cause even if your grades are bad, it doesn’t mean you’re failing

Do your homework with a fork

And eat your fruit loops in the dark

And bring your etch-a-sketch to work

And play your ukelele”

Ani Difranco

Ani was a huge influence on me from the moment my friend Pete gifted me a burnt copy of ‘Evolve’. (I’ve since purchased this album and many more, FYI!) There are so many things I admire about Ani D. I love how open and raw she is. She doesn’t just let you gently look in to her world, she absolutely owns it. It’s easy to be intimidated by her prolific career, her boldness, and her strong ideals. Much of her music is grounded in her activism. But she also shows her humanness without apology, and spun a different way, her boldness and strong ideals are motivational. Ani has released a ridiculous amount of music since her first studio album in 1990, and though it’s tempting to share something punchy, I remember the moment I first heard the opening lines of ‘Studying Stones’ from her 2005 album ‘Knuckle Down’. I felt like she’d let her guard down for a moment and I was seeing a new side of her.

I am out here studying stones
Trying to learn to be less alive
Using all of my will
To keep very still
Still even on the inside

I’ve cut all of the pertinent wires
So my eyes can’t make that connection
I am holding my breath
I’m feigning my death
When I’m looking in your direction

Course numb is an old hat
Old as my oldest memories
See that one’s my mother
And that one’s my father
And that one in the hat, that’s me
It’s a skill I hoped to abandon
When I got out on the open road
But any more pent up emotion
I think I’m gonna explode”

Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple’s music is dramatic and darkly indulgent. She’s not afraid to revel in despair. She sings about relationships and love, and reflects on how it all, always, went wrong. Sometimes this tendency can get a bit much, although it’s super satisfying if you’re in that kind of mood, and when she expresses intense hurt alongside honest insights about her own behaviour, you realise the music is a great emotional release and not about keeping tabs. What I really love though, is her strong sense of not following the crowd or doing what other people expect of her. In ‘Waltz’ I am comforted by her suggestion to sit still and stop worrying, and in ‘Extraordinary Machine’ I feel empowered to walk at my own pace and know my own strength. These are the opening and closing tracks of her 2005 album ‘Extraordinary Machine’. What was it about that year?!

“I certainly haven’t been shopping for any new shoes
And I certainly haven’t been spreading myself around
I still only travel by foot and by foot it’s a slow climb
But, I’m good at being uncomfortable
So I can’t stop changing all the time

I noticed that my opponent is always on the go
And won’t go slow so as not to focus and I notice
He’ll hitch a ride with any guide as long as they go fast
From whence he came
But, he’s no good at being uncomfortable
So he can’t staying exactly the same

If there was a better way to go, then it would find me
I can’t help it the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me, or treat me mean
I’ll make the most of it
I’m an extraordinary machine”

 

Imogen Heap (Frou Frou)

Imogen creates lush electronic-folk-pop music with layers of vocals. She trained in classical piano, but since her teens has been producing her own electronic-based music. She’s consistently at the forefront of music technology, creating Music Gloves in partnership with MIT for gesture-based recording and performance, and working on a system of storing music and paying artists using Blockchain technology. Heap’s early songs are catchy and fun, but for me, she really hit her stride with ‘Ellipse’. It’s so much about the words and music/production working together. The topics for her songs are sometimes light-hearted, but they’re so relatable that they make me nod and smile. Even in the more serious content she makes fun, and it’s wonderful to dig into the metaphors. If you ever get the chance to see her perform live, don’t miss it – it’s like watching a wizard, but with feels!

“First the earth was flat
But it fattened up when we didn’t fall off
Now we spin laps around the sun
All the Gods lost, two – one
And holes to heaven pointed out to us from light years away
We’re surrounded by a billion galaxies

Things are not always
Things are not always how they seem
Will you be ready? Will you be ready?”

 

Make sure to check out Mary at your local when she goes on tour to launch her fab new music:

MARY WEBB ‘LOVE LIKE PLANETS’ LAUNCH SHOWS

SUN 4 FEB | CHATEAU APOLLO, ADELAIDE SA | 18+ (unless accompanied) Tickets available from http://www.eventbrite.com | Online

SUN 25 FEB | SANCTUARY FESTIVAL 11AM – 4:30PM | NATIONAL WINE CENTRE | ALL AGES Tickets available from http://www.adelaidefringe.com.au | 1300 621 255 | All Adelaide Fringe Outlets

FRI 2 MAR | GASOLINE PONY, MARRICKVILLE NSW | 18+

Donations at door

SAT 17 MAR | ALBUM LAUNCH | WESLEY ANNE HOTEL, THORNBURY VIC | 18+

Tickets available on the door $20

FRI 4 MAY | THE EDWARDS, NEWCASTLE NSW | ALL AGES Free Entry | Make a dinner reservation at http://www.theedwards.com.au

SUN 13 MAY | CHEESE FACTORY STUDIO GALLERY, MEADOWS SA | ALL AGES Bookings recommended | (08) 8388 3725 info@cheesefactory.com.au

 

Do your dusty eyeballs a favour check out ‘ Gecko Fingers’ the new video

 

 

 

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