Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 189
Wed. July 18, 2012

Cat Power

“♫ what are
we doing?/ we’re
sitting on a

I used to call myself the soldier of love. I was always on the road, like an undiscovered voice from an unwritten Kerouac epic; living, losing, loving and witnessing new stanzas unfolding before this living poem called my life. I guess that’s why I tend to gravitate towards artists, writers and musicians who explored the creative life while being nomadically mobile on the road.

It’s been only in the last few years that I’ve got to experience that like-minded drifter voice in the regenerating music of Cat Power. Unbeknownst to me, the artist originally known as Chan Marshall has been on a similar path, searching for personal enlighten through her journey of her original voice. Through all her trialed tribulations, Marshall is a survivor at heart as she explained in an exclusive interview with The Stool Pigeon UK—“Before, I tended to just survive, survive, survive. Gaining a lot of… not knowledge, not life experience… but I had this opportunity of traveling round the world, meeting all these people and having these experiences that have shaped who I am now.”

I believe, “Ruin” is the song Chan Marshall has been waiting to write her whole career. “Ruin” sounds like an energetically modern update of Prince’s “Pop Life.” Like Prince’s song from Around The World in A Day,” Ruin” is a brave social commentary on how experiencing life is more important than material selfishness. Marshall’s “Ruin” is courageous because a lot of people don’t like to be informed that living a consumer way of life is an unsatisfying one. The most successful artists, creatively, take the most chances with their art. One of Chan’s heroes, Bob Dylan, was one of the fearless ones. Dylan took up the electric guitar, in the face of outrage and ridicule, live on stage at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.

“Ruin” is Marshall’s cunning anti-pop song rallying for creative fulfillment in this age disconnected by obsessive consumerism. Chan masks her anti-materialistic theme so beautifully with some syrupy styled rhythms that allows her unselfish essence of “Ruin” to be swallowed so sweetly. Bravo, Chan— it’s simple pure genius! That’s what I love about artists like Dylan and Cat Power, who take risks in their art, be dammed the commercial consequences. Marshall talked her new liberating mindset when she said—“I think once you survive various stages of your life, growing and learning, becoming who you are, certain things are not so fucking important anymore. This record is kind of like an amalgamation of realizing, ‘Fuck, I can do what I want.’ And I always could but I didn’t know that. Try to do whatever the fuck you want. I never knew that was a part of life; never knew you could try to live life exactly the way you want.”

One of the most difficult things I recently faced was overcoming the doubts of becoming the poet I was destined to be. For years, I fought my calling because of the concern how was a poet supposed to survive in a material world? I realized, the fear inside was slowly killing myself and my artistic identity. I was denying who I truly was on the inside and it was literally making me physically ill. Once I embraced my inner voice and my fate as a creative writer, it felt like the cosmic kick in the head that Buddhists call Satori. Unfortunately, as Marshall said, all this instant illumination comes with age. Realizing the importance of fulfilling your creative destiny is the only way to live. Ever since that moment I’ve felt resurrected creatively. Every time I write it feels like I’m birthing new worlds I wouldn’t have experienced without exploring the volumes within my writer’s voice. Marshall talks about a similar experience when she explained—“Because I always feel like a little kid, like every time I play is a new chance to meet the universe. Regeneration, regeneration, regeneration. ‘Can I do this right? Can I make a difference? Can I make sense? Can I be positive?’ It feels wonderful, those moments — like a communion.

Marshall is so right, creating is like a communion and I found writing to be a spiritual experience. When I hear “Ruin” I feel empowered to write and to re-experience my life through my poetic voice. It’s not easy being a creative artist; our blessing is also our beloved curse. It’s taxing on the mind, body and soul. I’ve never been as fulfilling and equally exhausting, emotionally and physically as when I write. Writing brings me the fruits of my wonderfully cathartic explorations so many never have to guts to experience.

Something I’m learning is we can all do what we want but we have to be responsible for knowing that. That’s a hard thing, even musically. We all have those traps in our brains. It’s stupid, thinking like that, but we cling to it because we’ve been told to. If we only test ourselves we might find something different. That’s the challenge.” Marshall said, illuminating our lives with some hopeful advice. That’s why I write. I love going beyond the song, that’s where find the true message from each artists lies.

We all have choices in the highway of life, you can either be the concrete or embrace your inner voice, become the car while seeking out challenges on your road towards creative fruition. Cat Power’s “Ruin” is more than just one of the best singles of 2012; it’s a road map and a personal soundtrack to creative enlightenment. So take lesson from Chan Marshall, turn up your own volume, the world is your canvas, your voice is the key and let yourself go.