Feist a.k.a. Bitch Lap Lap

How do you listen to Canadian music?
With your ears, eh? Silly…
Sorry, must have been the feminist jokes post from earlier today that inspired that one.
Anyways, we are indeed heading to the Far North for today’s B-sides as we rock out with Nova Scotian and lady tune-weaver Leslie Feist.

Performing as Feist, the woman who made counting fun again (“1,2,3,4”…) has been on hiatus since her last album, “The Reminder” came out in May 2007. Come back!? Please?!
Her happy jams may not be the most controversial, but these days I think it’s especially lovely to have something fun and rather danceable pouring into your ear occasionally. And leave us not forget that her early career involved a sock puppet named Bitch Lap Lap and Spanish raps….

Back to the task at hand though, convincing you to explore (or rekindle) your adoration of Feist bops. These days, I live in a basement and one of the tenets in the house above me is a very young baby who becomes *occasionally* a little fussy. When the fuss breaks loose, a tried-and-true technique of his parental units involves putting “I Feel it All” on the stereo and engaging in this crazy, rhythmic jump-dance ‘til he laughs his cares away. It’s odd, but even in the middle of hours of work, or an interrupted, much-needed quiet moment, when those notes begin to issue in through the vent in my ceiling and the clomping begins, I just can’t get mad.

Actually, I usually have to get up and dance along, which then invariably leads to my going and finding Feist’s YouTube channel and listening to another 3 or 4 songs before getting back to my quiet moment.

In fact, if you want an awesome music video recommendation, check out “Mushaboom.”

Flying toast away!


by Sara Stroo
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1 Comment Has Been Posted

Mushaboom cover

I know I'm late for the party, and am contributing to discourse about a female musician to mention a male musician --
but since you included mention of the Mushaboom, I gotta say that I really like Conor Oberst's covers of that song [with and without Ms Feist], for several, fairly feminist reasons.

1. It's charming to hear a boy [for he is a boy in the recordings] singing so tenderly but enthusiastically about taking care of children and appreciating nonsexual aspects of his partner.
When Leslie Feist sings about helping children get dressed, and living in a small town somewhere around the poverty level with her partner, possibly at the expense of her own ambitions, just out of love, this is nothing new. Women are expected to give up their lives for their children and their partners, and often not even in exchange for love.
But when Conor Oberst sings about those same things, this is new and exciting, because men are not culturally expected to accept ''second-floor living without a yard'', and are certainly not expected to see its rewards in and of itself. Men are not expected to care for their children, even taking the initiative to do something as simple as ''helping [them] out of their coats.'' And a man would certainly not be expected to do all of this just for the love of his partner, and then sing a song about how happy and content he is with the situation. This is some heartwarming shit, folks.

2. Despite being for all appearances heterosexual, Oberst doesn't change the pronouns in the song when he sings it without Feist.
This is important for many reasons, some of which involve prior knowledge of Oberst, but even at pure listening value it's sweet. At face value this is even sweeter. A male person who would in mainstream society be coded as gay, or at the very least ''effeminate'' and ''not manly'', sings that he's ''got a man to stick it out'' and love him even through hard times, and the raising of their children. Yes, honey, I bet you do have a man who loves you and wants to raise children with you. And I'm very glad you were able to come out of your house to tell us without getting your ass kicked! And I'm very glad that you feel comfortable enough with telling us that you got up on this big stage, in front of all these potentially hostile people who maybe weren't expecting to hear it! Now, just carry on as if there was nothing unusual about it.
Oh, right -- there isn't anything unusual about it. Gay people are people too, and their experience is nothing unusual in any particular sense, other than that it's been largely excluded from mainstream narratives except in stereotypical or fetishized manners. So carry on with those original pronouns as if nothing is unusual, Mr Oberst. Maybe in about fifty years it won't even be an issue when people hear -a fucking pronoun- and people like me won't even get excited enough to write in-depth examinations of it on someone else's blog.

It must be justified that I like the Oberst all right, although I probably wouldn't have if I'd heard his earlier work outside of the context of his later work and/or what I've gathered about him as a human being. Which is -- he seems to avoid indulging in that aggro macho ''ironic'' retrosexist posturing that a lot of indie rockers [especially physically tiny, pretty, effete indie rockers] like to put on, and is gender-subversive in weird, myriad, possibly accidental little ways that might even escape his own self-awareness. It's just how he is. And that makes his cover of this song both extra-awesome and simply par for the Conor Oberst course.

Also he's done multiple songs about the tragedy of anorexia, one about supporting a woman in a violent relationship, and one about trying to befriend an incest victim. And apparently one that can be heard as a gay man raising kids in a domestic partnership. All of which I support. Plus he is dainty and rather unabashedly vulnerable, which in a male person I also support.

All in all, having a person who is not stereotypically gendered in actions or body, and who owns these realities even in subtle ways, and who is lusted after both secretly and vociferously by both guys and girls, and who has accidentally become something of a musical icon, performing a song in such a way that makes it accessible to populations who are often marginalized by music itself [gay people and feminist people], yet doing it just because it is something he does ... is so very sweet to me.

That was quite an analysis, I know, but I was so excited about that song. Anyway, Feist is a sweet lady, inasmuch as I know, although admittedly I haven't done research on her. [You can chalk it up to both laziness and solidarity -- her music doesn't raise any particular woman-unfriendly flags, so she has nothing else to prove to me unless and until anything comes up in the future.]
Her very first album is quite beautiful, and incidentally largely nautically-themed. It's out of print but easy to find via internet. Sara's young upstairs neighbor might enjoy bouncing around to ''It's cool it's cool/to love your family, I know''.

<img> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4UzMUdlPjg </img>

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