February 14th, 2012

me: art

Music Monday #9: PJ Harvey



[PJ Harvey "The Words That Maketh Murder", YouTube video, 04:25]

I vividly remember the first time I really heard PJ Harvey. She played a show with Tricky at the Mayan in Los Angeles in 1996. My then-boyfriend bought the tickets. My primary motivation for going was to see Tricky as the opener, I must admit. This was back when you could still smoke inside venues, so my memory of seeing him is wrapped in a strong-smelling haze. (I have no idea how the bouncers managed to do their jobs. I suspect everyone in there was at least a little stoned from it.) And it has faded far more with time than my first sight of Polly Jean Harvey on stage.

Somehow I'd gotten pushed right up to the front. I found myself staring up at this tiny woman holding a big microphone, swinging heavy loops of black hair past bright red lips, body wrapped in an electric blue minidress and feet shod in sparkling red heels. She shut her eyes and opened her mouth and this enormous, captivating voice enveloped us. I couldn't take my eyes off her. I have no idea how long she sang, or what she said between songs. All I know is that I was entranced.

Her music has mellowed a little over the years, but her words certainly haven't. The song I've linked is from her newest album Let England Shake (2011).

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