by carl wilson

Jody Rosen Heads For Fist City

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While that NY Times piece on Nancy Sinatra's new joint got me buzzing just like it was meant to - Nancy hearts Thurston! Nancy sings Morrissey and J. Cocker! - it made the mistake of messing with Loretta Lynn. This, my friends, ain't no mistake to make. Jody Rosen wrote:

Trend-watchers may be tempted to compare "Nancy Sinatra" to another meeting between an older star and young rock turks: "Van Lear Rose," the Loretta Lynn album produced by Jack White of the White Stripes, which appeared earlier this year. But while "Van Lear Rose" gave Ms. Lynn's music a makeover, adding an unmistakably White Stripes-like garage rock snarl, "Nancy Sinatra" is a different case. Rather than overhaul Ms. Sinatra's classic sound a mix of go-go rhythms, country twang and orchestral pop her collaborators have paid it homage. It's a tribute that invites audiences to look again at Ms. Sinatra, who has been misunderstood and underrated for much of her career.

What Rosen neglects to mention here is that though some (not all) of Van Lear Rose is indeed in Jack White Drag with feebacky guitars and swamp drums and all, it's also entirely composed of new songs written by Ms. Lynn. (I think Jack's also the co-producer, not the sole producer, but I don't have my copy around to check.) I don't see any reason to try to make either one of these exciting rejuvenations look like a cynical attempt to showcase an aging icon in a setting that's alien to her, but if you do feel so compelled, I'm afraid it's Nancy who looks more like the novelty seeker.

A better point of comparison would have been to Marianne Faithfull, whose 2002 album Kissin' Time likewise featured collaborations with Jarvis Cocker, as well as Blur, Beck and Billy Corgan. That one was a mixed bag, with only Cocker really coming off gold, but then again as sixties go-go girls go, Ms. Faithfull had far less distance to come back from - she renewed herself as a more vital performer than ever in the 1980s and never faded back out, while Nancy's let her reputation age till she was so out of style she was in again. Yet in a way it's not surprising they ended up making similar new-millennial bids by making connections with rockers a few generations down the line, because both MF and NS were boundary-testers in their heydays who crossed the line into haze in the twilight of the sixties, and ended up being godmothers to a certain kind of stylekicking noncomformity... And while I'd lay a little money on MF being the smarter of the two, Sinatra treasures trash in a fashion that's a little more on-the-current-aesthetic-nose than Faithfull's continuing post-bohemian journeys to the middle of the brow. It's the Marianne who sang about blowjobs that the the art kids idolize, not the Marianne who sang Kurt Weill. That's the kind of category error Nancy wouldn't make.

So I can't wait to hear Nancy Sinatra - especially the Calexico collaboration, which should conjure the sulphurous ambience of Lee Hazelwood but exactly.
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The Writ | Posted by zoilus on Monday, September 27 at 09:10 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (3)

 

COMMENTS

i love the Loretta album, but Jack White needs to learn properly how to be a producer. i can't fathom why he felt the need to wank all over the record, and muddy up some really beautiful songs. i've been having this odd, shut-up-jack reaction to the record every time i listen to it - especially to the duet, which i hate & everyone around me at the radio station seems to love - and i've decided that maybe i'm just too cranky.
it's possible.

Posted by spitzer on October 4, 2004 10:38 AM

 

 

i love the Loretta album, but Jack White needs to learn properly how to be a producer. i can't fathom why he felt the need to wank all over the record, and muddy up some really beautiful songs. i've been having this odd, shut-up-jack reaction to the record every time i listen to it - especially to the duet, which i hate & everyone around me at the radio station seems to love - and i've decided that maybe i'm just too cranky.
it's possible.

Posted by spitzer on October 4, 2004 10:38 AM

 

 

Agreed. There is no doubting the huge homage factor in Jack White's taking on Loretta. The fact they pull it off without that gimmicky novelty factor is amazing.

Posted by Amanda on September 28, 2004 08:00 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson