Dig My Mood: Uh Huh Hersh

You don't love her enough!

When it comes to rock-and-roll ladies, people love the dark, mysterious, possibly-a-little-bit-insane types. Totally understandable! The problem is that they worship the wrong crazy ladies. Take PJ Harvey. Her image is compelling. There she is, scowling on the cover of Uh Huh Her, so intense, so glamorously tortured. Or in that famous photo with Nick Cave, both of them smoking and thinking thoughts of imponderable coolness. But her actual music is nothing but nursery-rhyme melodies buried under layers of willfully obtuse quirkiness. In PJ Harvey worship, as in Björk worship, unlistenability equals artistic integrity. Why bother with a decent hook if people worship you simply for being your own brooding, badass self? Then there's Patti Smith, who morphed decades ago from a musician into a self-serious curator of her own mythology. She doesn't need actual music anymore, having ascended to a realm of pure image: Patti Smith, ratty-haired essence of artistic purity. The only reason I bring this up is that there's a finite amount of adoration for dark, mysterious, possibly-a-little-bit-insane female musicians in the universe and all of it should go to Kristin Hersh. Sure, people like her well enough. Her performance at Bumbershoot—a theatrical presentation of her memoir—will probably be filled to capacity. But that's not enough. Her path from SeaTac to the Westin should be strewn with dahlia petals. She is a hero, a goddess. Throughout 20 or so albums (including with her bands Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Wave), she's carved her own musical language of jangly minor keys and a ferociously precise vocal delivery. There's no pose here. Like Elliott Smith, she's traveled to the darkest places of the mind and emerged with music that is beautiful and frightening in its directness. She crushes despair and self-loathing into little diamonds of wit. From her 2001 masterpiece, "Your Dirty Answer": "It's not my fault/It's not my fault you don't love me/It's not my fault you don't love me when I'm drunk." It is your fault if you miss her. music@seattleweekly.com David Stoesz is the author of A Sensitive Liberal's Guide to Life.

 
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