Hi. My name is Leigh and I’m addicted to British women who rock.
Yes, this homosensual crush on guitar-clad English dames makes my life tough. I can barely even tell my boyfriend when I’m into a new artist. He snarls and asks me, “What? Let me guess? She’s is from England and has riffs catchier than herpes at rave?” Every time, I slouch in my chair and admit, “Yes. Yes, on all accounts.”
Well, it’s my burden to bare. I can’t help my impulses nor the quickening of my pulse when I hear a soft, lo-fi, yet clear voice from across the pond. Add in some raw lyrics and a little distortion and I’m basically in the fetal with my eyes shut and rocking back and forth. What can I say?
Ah, I remember my first crush.
Bold and brazen, you’ve probably heard her sing before on a little album called Elephant (listen to the song “It’s True That We Love One Another” by the White Stripes – she loves “Jack White like a little brother”). Holly Golightly can take me to breakfast with Tiffany any time (yes, that’s her real name).
“Walk a Mile” shook me (LISTEN HERE). She had me. Her garage-rock music-making was set in the nicest of garages in my mind. On a wing chair upholstered in satin next to gold-plated speakers on top of a handmade rug, sat my imaginary Holly. Her rockabilly vibe gave her some badass cowgirl boots in my fantasy. Then, I looked up her pictures.
Holy, Holly! She’s adorable! Just like her music, there she was: unabashed, wild and carefully carefree. Unlike most women in the industry, she wasn’t drenched in eye makeup and she looked like a real person – someone who eats and cries and bleeds.
For weeks after I first listened to her music, her voice and her face haunted me. I became obsessed. I couldn’t listen to anything else. It all seemed fake unless it came from her lips. Emotions weren’t real unless she wrote about them.
The song, “Devil Do,” done by Holly and her band, The Brookoffs, became my new religion. Her lyrics stung: “You can dunk me in the river / Gonna clean my sin / But you might as well dunk me in a bucket of gin / Ain’t nobody gonna love you like the devil do.” Gin? I love gin! Wait, this is much deeper than that. Holly can’t write shallow lyrics. That’s why her songs always repeat the important lyrics and shave the rest down until it fits the frame perfectly.
The song “There’s an End” that Holly did with The Greenhornes is addictive. It’s in the film Broken Flowers, if you’ve seen it – this might have stuck with you, too. It’s the kind of depressing that is actually uplifting. It’s a lullaby that soothes even though it’s about death (Ring Around the Rosie, anyone?).
She settles us down as she emphatically tells us what we don’t want to hear: We grow old. We die. Relationships end. We change. People change. “Every season, there’s an end.” Accept it. “Thoughts rearrange / Familiar, now strange / All my skin is drifting on the wind.” It’s comforting. Her skin, your skin, my skin: it’s all dust in the wind. That’s just the way it is. We’re carbon.
This to me is quintessential Holly. She’s the person you want to hear the bad news from. She makes you feel like you’re part of a big picture – a sort of Emersonian oversoul of music-lovers. You wiggle to her guitar and you sway to her voice until everything in you becomes quiet. You breathe out. You’re in love. Welcome to my world. Luckily, she has 13 albums so it’s a nice, long relationship.
Leigh Greaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.