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notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK
Thursday, September 04, 2008You’re going to be fine St Cecilia's, supping Guinness on an empty stomach at a table directly in front of a low stage, I saw Kristin Hersh perform Paradoxical Undressing.
This was every bit the unique and memorable event I'd anticipated (see blog, 31 July), one of those very special gigs which are a world to themselves, in which Kristin, a painfully introvert performer, got up-close and personal sharing the experiences which have helped shape her powerfully complex music over the years.
Kristin's lyricism is intricate but not impenetrable. You need a sort of intuition that the intense imagery and deep metaphors in her music relate to direct experiences, even quite mundane ones. If you have that intuition and you can make the connections then you find her songs exploding into the loveliest colours or the scariest shapes as they take on meanings for you. Paradoxical Undressing revealed a lot of astonishing details which my intuition had previously missed.
One day Paradoxical Undressing will be a book, I hope. In Edinburgh it was one small woman at a lectern with a ring binder full of papers by her right hand and a guitar strapped across her left shoulder, reading and then singing, reading and then singing again in front of a screen projecting the richly coloured paintings of Molly Cliff Hilts. Captivating.
Kristin has eschewed music business norms and as well as inviting donations to keep her work going she fills her websites with artwork, photography, music and video clips free for all to encounter and enjoy. She also posts out pieces of writing like this below, which she shared with us beneath the chandeliers in Edinburgh and is a perfect illustration of the power and wonder - and agony - of her life and work.
Then some old lady forgot how to drive for a minute and suddenly, I was flying. I flew up over her car and through the air in vivid slow motion, thinking, so this is what this feels like.
Pic: from Nailest's Paradoxical Undressing Flickr photoset