Song of the Week – What I Am, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

In 1988 Edie Brickell & New Bohemians released their debut album, Shooting Rubber Bands at the Stars.  The album received a lot of airplay on “modern rock” radio stations, at least in Boston, and grabbed my attention.  There were two songs in particular that stuck to me  — “Circle” and today’s SotW, “What I Am.”

In 2006, Brickell described her inspiration for the song to the San Francisco Bay Times.

In a world religion class, everyone was complicating life and existence by over-thinking.  I had this sense it’s right here, right now.  It’s who we are and what we feel.  It’s not this tangled web of psychology and philosophy.  I was driving to band practice and started singing that song.  I wanted to be real, not adopt some philosophy or role.  Instinct is our driving force.

So she wrote:

I’m not aware of too many things
I know what I know if you know what I mean
Philosophy is a talk on a cereal box Religion is a smile on a dog

Besides the beguiling lyric, I was also drawn to the lead guitar work of Kenny Withrow who co-wrote “What I Am” with Brickell.  He uses an auto-wah/envelope filter on his leads that reproduces the sound of a Jerry Garcia solo (think “Estimated Prophet” or “Shakedown Street”).

On a side note, Brickell met Paul Simon on the set of Saturday Night Live when she was the guest musical artist on November 5, 1988.  About a half year later they were married and remain so today!

Her dad was a pro bowler that played for the Dallas Broncos.

Enjoy… until next week.

2 thoughts on “Song of the Week – What I Am, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians

  1. I made a mistake – I let her get too deep. Now we’re all in trouble.

    Never a big fan of this tune, I have to admit that the radio – that ancient artifact of common culture – was better for it. For some reason it reminds me now of The Lovin’ Spoonful with a girl singer.

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