Friday, March 4, 2005

E-mail from Stefan Hagemann

My friend Stefan Hagemann writes:

I wanted to comment on your remarks concerning Nellie McKay (and I didn't know, by the way, that her quirkiness extends even to the pronunciation of her surname). I agree that comparing her to Doris Day and Eminem is silly (I think the comment came from a Village Voice writer?), and that made me think of comparisons that occur more naturally by, um, listening to her stuff. I've had fun trying to figure who she listens to, and while I have a number of suspicions, I can think of at least three interesting allusions to other musicians--the Rolling Stones on "Respectable" (which also has a nice little nod to "America" from West Side Story), the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian" on "Toto Dies," and, I'm convinced, the Sex Pistols on "Sari." You may remember that "Sari" ends with the vocals trailing off, with McKay saying "shit" and then, well, there's no nice way to say it, a fart or belching sound. (I just listened again--definitely a fart sound). I contend that it's an allusion to one of the Pistols' angriest kiss-offs, "EMI." It's about being dropped by that label and ends on a similarly flatulent note.
That's astute listening. One of the first things that delighted me on McKay's album was the way her piano intro to "Manhattan Avenue"--a song about her childhood amid junkies and muggers--echoed the opening music from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

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