Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 74
Thurs. April 11, 2013
Polly Jean Harvey
one else has
Let me recount the ways, I love Polly Jean Harvey. It actually starts and ends with 2000’s Stories from the City, Stories from the City opener “Big Exit.” On “Big Exit,” Polly Jean shows us she’s not the shy naïve rock teaser from her albums past. In her previous recordings, Dry, Rid of Me, To Bring You My Love and Is This Desire, Polly Jean would begin her albums with a semi-low key song, a soft way of slowing seducing us with her lyrical tongue. “Big Exit” is Polly Jean lyrically stripping off and showing her true skin crooning her lusty demands over this riff centric beat.
Polly Jean talked about her new found lyrical openness stressing, even though, the songs are written in the first person, they’re far from autobiographical as she said, in James R. Bradford’s PJ Harvey: Siren Rising, “The way I’m singing about sexuality is much more open. It’s quite positive energy. It energizes me to listen to it. I’ve never had a record like that in the past that can change my mood, make me feel like I’m in a good mood. Everything on the record comes across in quite a positive way to me. Even the dirty ones.”
In the same book, Bradford wrote that “Big Exit” went through many incarnations in the studio as Polly Jean explained when she said, ““Big Exit” was just going to be four guitars swooping and buzzing around each other like a swarm of bees, all live and distorted. Then we tried this really, almost Led Zeppelin drum beat so it was rocking heavy. And when it still wasn’t happening, Mick Harvey got on the drums and put down the beat that kind of one-the-one all the way through, like an old-fashioned kind of Stax dance beat.” I find Polly Jean’s vast musical knowledge so sexy. You know what they say a beauty without intelligence is like a masterpiece painted on a napkin. Polly Jean Harvey is a living rocking Pièce de résistance an opus stimulating intellectual and sensual lyrical delights.
I don’t hear it, but some critics claim that Polly Jean sounds exactly like Patti Smith. I love both of these sirens but I just don’t feel like these complaints are legitimate. I will agree there is an influence but PJ’s English accent colors all of her seductive grooves with her unique English country side Dorset flavor. Patti Smith herself is a fan of Polly Jean, commenting on Harvey’s future single “The Words that Make Us Murder” when she said, “[I’ve been] listening to Polly Harvey’s new song – she has this new song, ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ – what a great song. It just makes me happy to exist. Whenever anyone does something of worth, including myself, it just makes me happy to be alive. So I listened to that song all morning, totally happy.”
Case closed; in summation, since Patti adores Polly Jean, if you’re one still holding out—you should love PJ Harvey like we all do. Love Polly Jean not because she’s beautiful, talented, one of the best songwriters of the last fifty years, she can rock and looks so caliente with a guitar strapped around her shoulder, the way she holds a microphone, her soft coo chanteuse like vocal but I’d argue, who else would begin their most mainstream album with a big bang like “Big Exit?” Now that’s the way to start a show, three chords, Polly Jean Harvey and the truth that she’s the most respected, beloved and a luscious living legend; the proof is in her recordings, inside her riffs breathes her chorused glories. Whether you live in the city, in the country or by the sea, do yourself a favor and crank up some Polly Jean Harvey and you will definitely be thanking me…you’re welcome!