Monday, May 14, 2007

Owning Up to My Music Collection, Part I: The Corrs

I saw the Corrs perform live as Conan O’Brien’s musical guest in 2000, way back when there was still a little lingering doubt that the show could go on with the same amount of hilarity without Andy Richter. (I guess we all know how that turned out.) The year before that, I’d bought the Corrs’ CD, Talk on Corners, and seeing them endorsed by my favorite modern-day, late-night pitch man validated that my music collection was pitch perfect, baby.


I won’t be too hard on myself for loving the Corrs like I did. It was a time in my life when I was grasping at whatever good vibes I could get. I’d just been fired without warning by people I’d considered my friends. It was a harsh blow to my pride, and just two weeks after a surgeon had taken a drill and screws to my knee. Overnight, I’d become that sappy gal who was gimpy and moody, with a black mark on her resume and ketchup on her shirt, and there they were: The Corrs. They were beautiful, the one brother and three sisters. They were my Irish Partridge Family with dark, silky hair and peachy-creamy skin. And the noticeable, welcome absence of Danny Bonaduce. From my cheap condo with bad wall-to-wall carpeting and bad wall-to-wall dogs, I imagined them in their quaint little native village, writing songs and playing them under the moss- and dew-dipped thatch of their cottage, the unicorns munching sweet grass and thistles right outside the front door.

What seems like light years later, I now live in a major ski resort town, where you’ll find someone playing live music seven nights a week just about anywhere there’s space. Most of them are high-end hacks singing cover tunes and playing their guitars to the gimmicks they’ve made up to sell drinks. (Johnny Mogambo, I’m looking right at you, with your patrons lined up and ready to drink from the set of shot glasses you glued to the surface of an old ski, your cries of “Shotski!” reverberating down the whole valley. And to be fair, I’m not looking at Phil Long, a real musician who loved playing piano and guitar at the Red Lion so much that he bought the place, and continues to perform there every night. After ten o’clock, you can hear him sing and play an entire musical such as Jesus Christ Superstar or Annie, no shit.) With all the racket going on every night, and all the children’s music every day—The Wiggles in particular—you would think that my stereo selection of choice would be white noise at the least, and NPR at the most. For the most part, it is, but every now and then, when I’m alone in my car driving the I-70 corridor, I have been known to slip Talk On Corners into the CD player.

You’ll notice right off the bat, if you ever get the chance, that The Corrs is not just an Irish band. It’s an Irrrrish band, with the “r”s rolled up tight and the whiskey corks loose. For some reason, all the tin whistles and the bodhran beats are OK with me. The word “moonbeams” is used in two different songs, but somehow I get past that. It’s a lot of acoustic guitar, with the complete lack of a sizzling electric solo, a string section that's decidedly more violin than fiddle, quite a bit of tambourine--and instrument that's right up there with the cowbell in its underratedness--and maybe, I'm not sure, but I think just a hint of accordion in there somewhere. As someone who spent a good chunk of time measuring a band’s worth by the size of the hair and the power of the ballad, I can stick by Talk on Corners, and sometimes consider changing my name to Wee Paddy McFinn from Cork County in the process, because is it’s so goshdarn uplifting.

Yes, the lead vocals are too breezy and weak, which is probably the reason for all the harmonizing that’s going on in every track, but I can’t help but loop around to the third song on the album a few times. It’s my favorite, a real toe-tapper, entitled “So Young.”

Because it begins with a synthesized drum line and a nanosecond of scratching, “So Young” is the most modern, mainstream-sounding song you’ll find on the album. And let’s get it straight: It’s bright and fun and poppy. It’s just perfect for the opening sequence of a sitcom in which three girls move from their farm to New York, where they make it big simply by working hard and diligently refrain from sleeping with each other’s boyfriends. It’s the kind of song that I would use were I a producer working on a commercial for a feminine hygiene product, and in fact it’s become impossible for me to listen to “So Young” without watching in my mind the vivid image of a 20-something brunette, just as fresh-faced and feisty as you please, in white short-shorts. She’s doing something like leap-frogging a fire hydrant, for heaven’s sake. She’s so confident! So bold! Gosh, you’d never know she was on her period would you? Gee, just what kind of tampon has she got in there, anyway? Whatever it is, it's really working. Just as dry and as comfortable as any postmenopausal, pre-incontinence woman, that gal’s going places. And she’s getting there without any worry whatsoever of menstrual-related embarrassment.

And there you have it: The Corrs. I’m saying it. I’m unapologetic. Maybe I’m even prostheletizing a bit. Try it. Listen, if you can still find it. Put on those short-shorts and get out there, tiger. We can do it, even if we have to drink a Guinness first.

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