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That Liz Phair could write about the Groundhog’s Day of twentysomething single-girlhood with the kind of verve and nuance that makes Exile in Guyville so inimitable and so right-on remains an impressive, if not completely isolated, achievement—after all the early days of the '90s also saw the likes of Tori Amos, Bjork, Ani Di Franco, and PJ Harvey changing the musical landscape.
That Phair could write a song as hilarious and devastatingly poignant—and prophetic, it would later turn out—as “Divorce Song”, however, is a true testament to her gifts as a storyteller and keen observer of human behaviors, emotions, and the delicate imbalances in male and female perception that can send a once thriving relationship entirely off-course.“Divorce Song”, another entry in the “domestic nightmare” branch of Phair’s catalog, employs the clichéd road trip scenario—all that time crammed into a hatchback driving cross country and getting on each other’s last nerve—that so often causes tempers to flare and hurtful truths to leak like engine oil, and unearths realizations about the extent to which each party intends to honor his or end of the presumed lifelong commitment.
For years Liz Phair has toyed with our emotions, putting the fantasy of a new album produced by Ryan Adams on everyone’s cultural radar to no avail. Adams dropped the bomb late Thursday that he and Phair had officially broke ground on a new Liz Phair album together.
There are even photos of their first studio session together, which Adams says was so productive they banged out five songs in one day. In 2012, Phair had gushed about wanting to make a “kickass” record produced by Adams, one that she envisioned being “some down and dirty shit with great songwriting and it won’t be Guyville, but it will be authentic. I’ll tour the shit out of that shit.” And, so, we waited.
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The road trip is, of course, an easy metaphor for the relationship itself, every aspect of what works and what doesn’t truncated into a successive, isolated sequence of moments that mirror the very best and worst of a coupling, an accelerated staging of the dooms that lie ahead.
“The license said / You had to stick around / Until I was dead / But if you’re tired of looking at my face / I guess I already am”.
He lists off her minor failings—taking his lighter, losing their map—and then declares she isn’t “worth talking to”.
That he uses her innocuous suggestion of separate sleeping quarters as an occasion to lash out in this severe way stuns Phair to her core, and we hear the quake in her voice as she scrambles to make sense of this false equivalency.
LOS ANGELES (Celebrity Access) Liz Phair is heading out on a small tour to support the release of her pre-Exile In Guyville tapes. To that effect, Phair is going to play songs exclusively from the tapes on a short June tour (below).
Phair recently released the Girly-Sound to Guyville: The 25th Anniversary Box Set, which not only includes her famous 1993 debut album but previous music that she recorded under the name Girly-Sound and was distributed through audio tapes, which were subsequently copied and redistributed by fans. She is reportedly working on a memoir called “Horror Stories” and released her last album, Funstyle, in 2010.