I know and like John Grant from his albums after this one. These three songs perfectly encapsulate Grant’s pop sensibility with his acerbic wit. His later albums are also a bit more dancey, so it’s interesting hearing these as straight up piano and guitar songs.
On “Where Dreams Go to Die,” he plays piano in a very dramatic fashion and sings in his slow sometimes whispered baritone voice. The song is pretty and then the lyrics come in: “I’m willing to do anything to get attention from you dear.” But it’s not until the chorus (with acoustic guitar added) that the melody gros even more catchy and the lyrics grow even more dark: “Baby…. you’re where dreams go to die and I regret the day your lovely carcass caught my eye.” There’s great bass riff on the piano that he plays during the end of the song which ups the drama even further. It’s quite a song.
In introducing “Sigourney Weaver,” he says that when he was 12 he moved from Michigan to Colorado and he hoped the move would erase his homosexual feelings. He changed his mind about that “when he got the hang of it.” The song doesn’t have anything to do with Weaver except as simile: “I feel just like Sigourney Weaver when she had to kill those aliens.” Although I think the follow-up simile is even better: “I feel just like Winona Ryder in that move about vampires and she couldn’t get that accent right and neither could that other guy.”
“It Doesn’t Matter to Him” is about the inability to deal with the sudden absence of love. It features the great lyrics: “I am no longer as awkward as I was when I was younger I guess I’m one of those guys who gets better looking as I age.”
Grant is a marvel and his songs, while caustic, are quite fun.
[READ: February 15, 2016] “Raj, Bohemian”
I really enjoyed this story a lot.
I enjoyed the way the story began with a bunch of wealthy city kids doing all kinds of debauched things with no repercussions. None of them worked, but somehow they were trendsetters. “We went dancing whenever we felt like it and watched illegal pre-releases of Hollywood blockbusters… By the time the world caught up we usually got bored and moved on.”
They are smug asses, but they aren’t obnoxious about it–“we despised trendies–fashion kids who tried to hard,”
And then we met the narrator’s friend Sunita who throws the best parties. She had a gorgeous apartment and lived there rent free (for complex reasons). For this latest party, which promised to be her best, she cryptically said “dress sincerely.”
The party was (of course) a success and Sunita told him that he had to go meet Thanh, who looked like a Vietnamese Nico. Thanh was talking to Raj, and the narrator was instantly jealous, but Raj was cool and made room for him and then even ceded the conversation to him. Raj was a perfect wingman. He even had free vodka for them to try.
The narrator and Thanh went back to her place and they stayed in bed for a few days. And that’s when he saw his own picture on the internet. It was in an ad for the vodka that Raj had brought. He was using the people at the party in ads as real people drinking his vodka.
The narrator is super pissed about it. B ut Thanh seems nonplussed. She says raj didn’t ask them to buy anything and they drank for free. But the narrator says Raj wanted to make them into early adopters “But we are early adopters. I got a free phone a few month ago. All I had to do was watch a film and say how it made me feel.”
He ends it by retorting, “Jesus, you really are a shallow bitch.”
When he complains to Sunita she responds, “That’s so Raj.” As if stealing people’s images is no big deal. In fact, no one is upset by this. He starts questioning everything in his life. Is the person telling him about the great new band a promoter or just a friend with good taste? Why is his friend Vikram talking about tires for so long?
He starts becoming a hermit. He wants nothing but sincerity anymore.
I enjoyed all of this quite a bit.
And then he kind of snapped. He started dating a woman named Zoe who was plain and sincere. They enjoyed things very much until one night she told him about ring she was wearing:
“It’s an appetite-reduction ring. See the tiny gems? There are nine of them. It helps correct biochemical imbalances in the body by reverse-actuating the ionic flow in my bloodstream. You should get one.”
She had reeled it off without a pause.
His reaction to all of this is to get rid of all of is things–everything. And he make as plan to get revenge on Raj, the man who did this to him.
I didn’t really like the way the story went so dark. I kind of wanted it to stay in the realm of the outrage, so I was a little bummed that it went elsewhere. Although I really did like the way he ended the story (and most of the first 3/4 as well). Kunzru is another author I want to read more from.