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Thread: Is This Desire?

  1. #31
    best finest surgeon JHV's Avatar
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    I wish PJ would use the vocal tone she used on Catherine on another song. It sounds so different from her normal vocals, but is no less interesting and makes the song stand out among all the other excellent songs here.

  2. #32
    Ugggggghhhhhhh Octopussy's Avatar
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    ^ sounds like she is using pitch manipulation on Catherine. I can see ITD being a big influence on Karin Drejer Andersson!

  3. #33
    Senior Member Baltic's Avatar
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    I listened to Is This Desire? today and looked up the album on wikipedia and the article links to the inspiration for the song The Wind:

    St Catherine is the patron saint of spinsters and the chapel has a local tradition of 'wishing', which involves using the niches (one for the knee and two for the hands) in the east jamb of the south doorway to 'post' prayers to the saint asking for her help. A traditional prayer used here says:


    A husband, St Catherine,
    A handsome one, St Catherine,
    A rich one, St Catherine,
    A nice one, St Catherine,
    And soon, St Catherine.
    I'm not sure if this was mentioned in the thread which discussed PJ's literary inspirations. You can read more about St Catherine's Chapel here.

    Also, I wonder how personal the song is. She said that this was the most difficult album for her to make and that it was the most difficult period in her life, too. I don't want to be gossipy about her relationships, but didn't she and Nick Cave end their relationship around this time? Quite a bit of his album of the time (The Boatman's Call) is obviously about Polly and there's no obvious reference to Nick on ITD? Yet, this song, about someone desperately needing a husband, is perhaps referring to that. Polly live(s) quite close to the chapel, too.
    Last edited by Baltic; 10-10-2013 at 12:00 PM.
    "The only time I get in that position is when I give birth." - Dorothy Zbornak

  4. #34
    Tens Across the Board Banjee's Avatar
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    Or maybe she just found the story of St. Catherine interesting? PJ herself has spoken out against those forces that try to link her art to her bio. For ex., people reading "When Under Ether" and "Down by the water" as PJ addressing an experience with abortion.

  5. #35
    Senior Member Baltic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjee View Post
    Or maybe she just found the story of St. Catherine interesting? PJ herself has spoken out against those forces that try to link her art to her bio. For ex., people reading "When Under Ether" and "Down by the water" as PJ addressing an experience with abortion.
    Yeah, of course it could be anything. The fact that she's a human being means that she has emotions which would compel her to write about a situation she's drawn to. Maybe she wrote The Wind to reflect her emotions based on her life at the time. I am not saying "PJ Harvey and Nick Cave had a relationship and then PJ Harvey went to St. Catherine Chapel and prayed and then had oatmeal for breakfast." Maybe she wrote When Under Ether because she felt compelled to express her emotions about being touched by "human kindness". I am not speculating whether she had an abortion or drowned her daughter or had sex with the devil. An artist conveys her emotions in her art, and since I found this piece of information, and based on the interviews she had given about the record and how it reflected a difficult period in her life, I think it's okay to talk about her inspiration/influences. Don't fans of any sort of music feel some sort of bond with the artist, anyway? I don't care whether my speculation is true or not. It just makes the song more relatable if you explore various avenues. It seems like a personal song, that's all I am saying. I would guess most of the music she has released is personal to her. I am not publishing an article with the headline PJ HARVEY HAD AN ABORTION.
    "The only time I get in that position is when I give birth." - Dorothy Zbornak

  6. #36
    Tens Across the Board Banjee's Avatar
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    I guess what I meant was that she is very adamant about folks NOT reading bio into her art, so I never really try. Instead, I think about how I connect to the message (and I'm not saying that's what everyone needs to do) because ultimately we will never know exactly how personal these songs really are. PJ's not the type to sit for lengthily interviews that reveal much about her life.

    So... How do you Baltic connect to "The Wind"?
    Last edited by Banjee; 10-11-2013 at 01:52 PM.

  7. #37
    ANUSTART Lathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjee View Post
    PJ's not the type to sit for lengthily interviews that reveal much about her life.
    I love that about her. There are several artists I wish I knew less about.

  8. #38
    Tens Across the Board Banjee's Avatar
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    Also, PJ's never struck me as the pining to get married type. In fact, she seems more like a lone wolf. I'd be surprised if PJ ever got married.

  9. #39
    A Matter Of How You See It Kala's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lathan View Post
    I love that about her. There are several artists I wish I knew less about.
    AMEN

    Quote Originally Posted by Banjee View Post
    Also, PJ's never struck me as the pining to get married type. In fact, she seems more like a lone wolf. I'd be surprised if PJ ever got married.
    Agreed. I love the lyrics to Uh Huh Her, but I don't necessarily think she's writing about herself personally.

    I fill the sea all with my tears
    I drown the fields
    You will remember
    remember me
    The valley is crying
    The valley is grieving
    He is
    Hes leaving
    Abandoning me
    Dont marry uh huh her
    Dont marry uh huh huh her
    Dont marry uh huh her
    Dont marry uh huh huh her

  10. #40
    Senior Member Baltic's Avatar
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    I think all artists, whether they are writing autobiographically or about others, write about something that touches them personally, which, in a way, makes it biographical. The fact that right now I'm reading a book by Nietzsche, for example, probably says something about me. The fact that a recurring topic in PJ Harvey's songs is marriage, probably means it somehow affects her (whether she is married or wants to be, or not) and is therefore based on her thoughts about it. Any artist, whether writing a novel, or painting a picture, writing music, is reflected in that piece of art.

    Yeah, I don't really care about PJ Harvey's love life, but to know that someone wrote a song about something dear to them, makes it a bit more special in my opinion. So, the fact that she is singing about marriage and IS NOT married reflects the fact that she is not married. This could mean that she is singing about what she doesn't want in life (marriage, for example) since she has said frequently that she prefers to be alone. So, again, it is not so much about whether PJ Harvey wrote it about a particular relationship or about this or that, but that it comes from a real place, from her.

    If we read a novel that really touches us and it is based in a given city, I bet many of us would want to see that city and see what the author perhaps experienced there. With music, if there is a reference to a particular place, I also want to know what about that place inspired that artist. Why is that chapel important to PJ Harvey's vision as an artist? This doesn't have to interfere with her personal, private life, but thematically speaking, it is an advantage, I think, to know what compelled her to write a work about that topic.

    The same can be said about LES. It is not an album about Polly Jean Harvey, yet the fact that she wrote and recorded it means that it actually is a reflection of Polly Jean Harvey, the private person. We learn a lot about her as a person by listening to something that is not directly about her. And we can take from that album whatever we want, whatever it is that resonates with us, but I think to know that another human being felt so passionate about this topic, makes us curious about why she did it (which she talked about in interviews).

    Yes, Polly is a private person, but she does talk about her life, about liking to be alone, about death and so on, so I don't think it's disrespectful to discuss the things that inspired her as an artist.

    I would much rather know less about certain arTists' private lives, yes, but when they talk about the inspiration behind a song, and when we, as fans, try to analyze it, I think it's a very productive and important thing when it comes to appreciating (and creating) art.
    "The only time I get in that position is when I give birth." - Dorothy Zbornak

  11. #41
    Senior Member Baltic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banjee View Post
    Also, PJ's never struck me as the pining to get married type. In fact, she seems more like a lone wolf. I'd be surprised if PJ ever got married.
    I think this is more gossipy or intrusive than my original post.

    As for my connection to The Wind, I do not know what it is, or even if there is one, other than being fascinated by the mythical aspect of it and of course the song itself.

    What I connect to the most on ITD? is the title track. I think it's one of the best songs she has recorded and it evokes so much about Life in such a muted way.
    "The only time I get in that position is when I give birth." - Dorothy Zbornak

  12. #42
    Tens Across the Board Banjee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baltic View Post
    I think this is more gossipy or intrusive than my original post.
    Huh? Why? I'm basing this on her art. She has a huge artist output and by now it's easy to see themes emerge across them; themes that speak to who the writer is. It's what we do as readers/listeners-- determine the artist's point of view. How is it "intrusive" if I'm basing it on the information she has freely given us in her art, rather than deriving it from biographical facts. Theories of PJ based on her art are entirely different things than theories of PJ gleaned from speculations about her life from clues in interviews. Either way we are both theorizing who PJ is (We're BOTH doing THE SAME THING, just through different avenues). But if you think that getting the message from the art more intrusive, cool. Everyone has an opinion .

    And to be clear, I never said your interest was intrusive. nor did I say that looking at an artist's bio is not a worthy effort-- many, many, many times an artist bio opens up the work of art and reveals things otherwise not evident from just looking at the text. The problem that I was pointing out in this conversation with regards to PJ is that she is notoriously closed-lip about her life, so I saw it as a moot point to try to pin point her relationship with Nick cave as influencing a specific song. Who knows when she even wrote the song. She could have written it years before even meeting Cave. You stated that she lives close to the chapel, perhaps she runs into women going to the chapel all the time in her little town and the song is dedicated to them (I never got the personal nature of this particular song like you have. I'M NOT SAYING IT'S NOT PERSONAL OR AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL, just that it's not one that I've immediately thought of in that way like I do "To Talk To Her"). Perhaps, this is the influence. Maybe her mother was a devotee of St. Catherine. Or her grandmother. Maybe as a little girl she sang the St. Catherine song with her other girlfriends in the schoolyard. With PJ, because there is no bio., there is a lot of possibility for exploring author's purpose.
    Last edited by Banjee; 10-12-2013 at 03:13 PM.

  13. #43
    Senior Member Baltic's Avatar
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    You are right. My previous post was a bit over the top, but I see you get what I am saying. Yeah, it's not her relationship with Nick Cave that I'm interested about, but the emotions behind the song, which deal with a relationship (or the lack of one).

    As for PJ Harvey saying that we shouldn't look at her songs biographically, I understand she says this for privacy, but there's no way she wouldn't write a good portion of her songs about her own life, but perhaps disguises those songs with other characters, themes and so on. So I would say, based on human nature, that a lot of her songs are biographical to some extent. I think all art is. However, the mystery behind it all is intriguing.

    Sorry, I did not intend to be harsh. Thank you for having this conversation with me
    "The only time I get in that position is when I give birth." - Dorothy Zbornak

  14. #44
    Tens Across the Board Banjee's Avatar
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    Here is an amazing performance of The WInd to diffuse the situation



    and of Catherine just because
    (where's the high quality of this?? )

  15. #45
    Ugggggghhhhhhh Octopussy's Avatar
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    I was just looking at pictures of St. Catherine's Chapel and had to listen to this album again. Years ago I was staunchly devoted to TBYML, but ITD has now become my favorite. I really wish PJ would try her hand at electronic music again, it's been long enough.

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