专辑名称：Sunny Border Blue
发行日期：March 6, 2001
继《Sky Motel》之后的第四张专辑《Sunny Border Blue》，Kristin Hersh开始回归民谣的风格并且几乎独自承担了所有乐器的演奏部分，吉他、钢琴和铜管乐器等。这张专辑大概是Kristin Hersh作品中最为人们所熟知的。整体感很好，不足之处是过多的歌曲具有相似的节奏旋律和情绪，包括经典的"Your Dirty Answer"、"37 Hours"，此外还有翻唱Cat Stevens'的"Trouble"；歌词部分如Hersh在"Summer Salt"中所说“"I don't have to talk/but when I do and this is true/there's nothing I won't say." 诚实到近乎残酷。
Kristin Hersh has been a fringe dweller most of her life. Not just as the singing/songwriting core of Throwing Muses, who cut a sonic ferocity with a skewed and feminised, neo-folk temperament and made some damned fine alterno-pop records in their 13-year history, nor as an anguished solo artist struggling to come to terms with the loss of her band (which folded after "Limbo" in 1996) and subsequent feelings of betrayal, but also as a sufferer of the bi-polar disorder that has long been both her muse and bete noire. Talk of demons comes cheap in this business, but Hersh has had to wrestle with more than most. Creativity for her has long meant being tormented by the sounds of her songs forcing themselves upon her, unbidded. At least, it did up until 1999's breezy, cleanly beautiful "Sky Motel" LP, where Hersh wrested direct creative control for the first time ever and wrote the songs herself.
Now, with the perfectly titled "Sunny Border Blue", Hersh is again the back-seat driver. But she's not complaining. These 13 deceptively fragile, acoustic songs with a steel-trap savagery are essentially love songs - about friends, children, husbands - but Hersh knows that the heart isn't some valentine-shaped abstract, but the bloody, beating organ that keeps us all alive. Hers is a reality that bites hard, and although the album's brutal lyrical honesty will likely knock listeners sideways, it fails to strike a single, self-pitying note. Clouds may be present, but they're always edged in bright blue.
"I'm not particularly creative," claims Hersh. "I mean, I'm not someone who would paint pictures or write books; I just happen to hear songs and I don't know what else to do but record them. Some of these songs sound like they could have been written by The Monkees. But only if something really terrible had happened to them! I was so surprised by the fierceness of the lyrics and a few times I thought, 'maybe I shouldn't say this'. I don't like to censor the songs, because I think they're smarter than me and I think they arrange my stories better than I would and I have a lot to learn from them. But, a few times on this record I thought about it, mainly to spare my husband's feelings or my friends' feelings. Thankfully, most of the people who have been outed emotionally on this record have already heard it and they seem to be ok with it."
One of those people is former Throwing Muses drummer and old friend David Narcizo, who also designed the sleeve of "Sunny Border Blue". The rapier-like directness of the lyrics to "Listerine" could hardly have escaped him when he first heard it: "How did I love a breaking thing?/ How did I sleep through a kidnapping?/How did I trust a band who'd leave me one by one?"
Hersh admits. "I didn't know how Dave would react when he heard that song in the studio. I didn't know whether he was going to come in and slug me or hug me! We had a couple of phone calls about that one. I told him, 'I have no control over the lyrics; you know that and you've always known that'. Dave just wanted to know that we both agreed everything was okay between us. My loved ones are such good people that they don't get mad, they just think, oh, Kristin's losing it again! Dave just wanted to make sure I was doing as well with the Muses' breakup as he was, because it was hard for everyone. When you invest so much in a heartfelt project like that and it just dies after all those years, it's frustrating. There's a fine line between self-expression and whining, and I cross it every now and again. Particularly on that song!"
Hersh's husband and manager Billy O'Connell frequently falls in the direct line of lyrical fire, too. "I wanted you to sleep with her and hate yourself instead of me," Hersh sings in "Spain". "I wanted you untrue, hating yourself like me/after all, what am I missing I haven't missed before/sucking down the precious lies I should have swallowed way before?"
Explains Hersh: "I said horrible stuff about Billy on this record and when he heard it, he'd just turn around with tears in his eyes. He thought people might think lousy stuff about our marriage, when we actually have a wonderful marriage; it's better now than it ever has been. Songs make pretty stuff beautiful, but they also make ugly stuff real. I think my personality somehow doesn't want to incorporate the ugly stuff - it doesn't want it to be real, so it's in the songs instead. That way, I can live my life and smile all day! In my psyche, that stuff would be nastiness; it would be dark and bad and ugly and I don't want to incorporate that in my personality. In the songs, though, it's just gutsy. It feels good instead of bad and it's okay for me to put it there. And I think it's okay for Billy to have it put there, too."
Other songs on "Sunny Border Blue" - the sad, country-styled "Candyland", which deals with Hersh's heartbreak after losing custody of her oldest child, Dylan, when he was three, and the cover version of Cat Steven's "Trouble" - belie a sweetness which is given extra depth by Hersh's newly husky voice. "There's a lot of prettiness on this record," agrees Hersh, "some of it sounds even prettier given the harshness right next to it. I'm used to hearing that about myself and I never really noticed it before, but it actually struck me on this record. Songs go from very sweet to very scary on a dime and I was really surprised at the scariness of the lyrics on this LP. I thought I was writing pop songs - then I realised what I was singing and I thought, 'I sound so mean and angry!'
"The odd thing is all of the angst on this record is from old stories, stories I thought I was finished with. They're things I had already gone through with Billy and my son and my band, but I guess the songs thought these stories were still worth retelling. When stuff is that powerful, and there's no reason for it to go away - it becomes part of a person's cellular make-up. My biggest hope is that these songs not be limited to my own stories. I hope they sound as much like other people's stories as they should, so that others can relate to them instead of just thinking, well, Kristin's had a rough time of it! That's not the kind of response I hope for."
Response, rather than empathy is central to Kristin Hersh's music. Her songs do so much more than have you humming a nice tune, because they come from a wild and different place. They're often frightening and sometimes terrifyingly fragile, but even then they hit with the force of a Mach 10 wind. Says Hersh, "Throughout my career, I never got the feeling that these songs were just for me. For some reason, no matter how shy I felt, I didn't think the songs were shy. And when I play them, I'm not embarrassed and I don't feel like I'm baring my soul, I feel like I'm voicing what we all have in common."
Hersh's extraordinary, life-dominating talent is perhaps best summed up in the poignantly cracked "William's Cut", where she sings, "I lost every friend I ever made, but I like it too much."
"Music is just the hardest drug I've ever done," she confesses. "It's haunted me and it's messed me up; it's made me driven in a way I don't understand and it's made me lose everything. And yet, it's all I have left. Music is a harsh mistress."
As always, it's an honesty thing.
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1. Your Dirty Answer
3. 37 Hours
5. William's Cut
6. Summer Salt
10. White Suckers