Liz Phair has some books coming out soon. I’m not clear based on the story, but it seems like two memoirs are on their way. I’m a fan but that idea didn’t excite me until I read this interview with Rob Tannenbaum, which dropped on vulture.com today. I’ve been a big Liz Phair fan from the beginning, so big that I actually really liked her 2003 eponymously named Liz Phair elpee, which was given a provocative 0.0 (on a scale of 10) rating by Pitchfork. It also provoked attacks on Phair by Meghan O’Rourke and others, who should all have known better. My point isn’t that Phair is bulletproof. You’re entitled to dislike her music, obviously, which is odd and aggressive and indie most of the time, on the merits (or demerits), but she is an artist with a long history of putting her heart and soul on the line. In her defense, at some point (after four or five albums, let’s say) she should have earned trust instead of enmity from those who admired those early albums. She’s a singer songwriter, give her a break (I would think would be the default), but they turned on her brutally, dismissively. It was terrible. That issue was tackled 16 years ago, and mercifully Phair is still kicking it Today we have a woman who is putting on hot shows (I saw her in Denver and Brooklyn recently) and despite her protestations about stage fright she seems like a live wire living for the spotlight.
This post is about the interview with Tannenbaum, in which Phair talks about a lot of things that wouldn’t be the first thing you think about a singer-songwriter promoting a book. Or two. But it’s also a chance to thumb our noses at Pitchfork and the others who dismissed the woman rather than engage with what she was trying to do. If you didn’t understand Phair you might think this commercial move was reprehensible, but it’s way more interesting to think about how that reviled album differs from both Brittany and all the indie expectations that provoked the haters.