She'll Sing For You, part 1


In taste and disposition, we at Popehat are a diverse lot. For example, Ken is on record as an avid aficionado of opera. Patrick, a former college dj to whom the young'uns still turn in a pinch, is known for his enigmatic and challenging sets. After our comrade Ezra withdrew to his special place, Patrick took up the mantle and now offers sporadic and stochastic coverage of the audial scene. Yes, Patrick even covers symphonies and opera to placate Ken. As for me, I'm a fan of John Dowland and Yma Sumac and Radiohead and Ravi Shankar and Fred Astaire. Eclectic, we.

There must be some overlap among us, though we haven't mapped it out. But this much we already know: we are all fans of Marian Call.  Even Ezra, peace be upon him, was a fan of Marian Call.

So my next post will be a deepish dive into Marian's music or, more accurately, her poetry. And in a third post, perhaps we'll have a secret toy surprise. But if you have no patience for close reading and texty-feely artgeek stuff — if you're the Shut Up And Sing type — then this post right here is for you. Here's the Executive Summary/tl;dr version of the Minimum You Oughtta Know™ before venturing forth:

  • Marian Call is an independent folk-funky, heartfelt, humorous, jazzy, torchy, quirky singer-songwriter currently thriving in Anchorage, which is really just North-North-North Seattle and thus a super natural fit for a Washington girl with a strong sense of place.
  • We at Popehat have a colossal (aggregate) IQ, and yet we're pretty sure she could lap us.
  • While majoring in choral composition at Stanford (the axe, the axe), Marian realized that her inner vector was driving or drawing her otherwhere. Recognizing that digital distribution had altered the fundamentals of the music industry, she decided to embrace a newly feasible unsigned, try-before-you-buy, pay-from-the-heart business model. Next thing you know, she's crankin' out compelling music and hoping to roll a hard six on her gamble that educated and motivated consumers of art will sustain the art(ists) they like (and thereby not let her starve).
  • Marian Call is a word nerd, but has become the preeminent Geek Chanteuse to a wide and motley array of awkwardly obsessive acolytes. She's more than this, of course, but clearly no less. Her saintly attributes include exotic percussion equipment (a rainstick, a manual typewriter named Madeleine, a tea can containing the cremated remains of Zippy, a story-laden family cat) and measured quantities of dark, malty beer. Her superpower is recognizing paradoxes or antinomies in human experience and distilling them to heart- and mind-moving simplicity without pretending to resolve them.
  • Taking seriously the business of enjoying close communion with her fans, Marian successfully completed within the 2010 calendar year a seat of the pants, fan-semi-coordinated tour of all 50 states, several Canadian provinces, and a selection of realms in cyberspace.
  • During and after her tour, she worked on her third fully-fledged production piece: Something Fierce. She released this double album into crit-space just a few days ago (fancy lyrics, plain lyricsmusic). Give it a listen! If you enjoy it, give it a purchase! (Cool cuts: 34681218, etc!)
  • If you are a MacArthur nominator, I would like to point out that Marian Call is just, verdant, and peaceful.
  • ProTip: You can also still listen to/enjoy/buy her album Vanilla and her commissioned Firefly/Galactica album Got To Fly.

That's the wakizashi; the katana comes next time.  Meanwhile, listen to Marian Call. She'll sing for you:

… And here's Part Two.

Last 5 posts by David Byron


  1. says

    I'm preparing for deposition! I can't follow all those links! But you've made it irresistible!

    [Aside: did you know that shouting "NESSUN DORMA!" is the opera equivalent of yelling "PLAY FREEBIRD!", including the current ironic use? What's the equivalent here?]

  2. says

    …shouting "NESSUN DORMA!" is the opera equivalent of yelling "PLAY FREEBIRD!", including the current ironic use? What's the equivalent here?

    Until 30 September, it was probably "Got to fly!"

    Now, I have a feeling it'll be either "Doo doot doot doo!" or (approximately) "Haiiii Haiiii uttn dub ai hatta ruttn haia hau hau hau!!", depending on the weather.

    Speaking of Seattle, Marian Call will be performing this Friday at GeekGirlCon.

  3. says

    Marian Call's latest album does, in fact, have a composition titled "Free Bird" on it. One suspects it may have been written and titled for just such an eventuality.

  4. gbasden says

    Speaking of Dowland and Marian in the same breath is unexpected, yet somehow highly apropos. I'm a bit more partial to "Can She Excuse", but that's neither here nor there.

    I've listened through both albums at least a dozen times, and the song that keeps coming unbidden to my head at the oddest times is "Good Morning Moon". It's fantastic in so many ways, including the fan made music and sounds near the end.

    I've been a member of Marian's Donor's Circle group for a bit over a year now, and I encourage more people to participate if she chooses to restart it. It's a fantastic way to get insight into the creative process and support a very talented musician at the same time.

  5. says

    > Anchorage, which is really just North-North-North Seattle

    I am informed by a voice over my shoulder that this is utter nonsense, and that Seattle is Seattle and Anchorage is Anchorage.

    I think it's probably in my best interest to agree.

  6. The Great Big 0 says

    >>> a seat of the pants, fan-semi-coordinated tour of all 50 states,

    What about the other seven states?

    ?!?!?! What about the other seven states!?!? !?!!?

  7. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society says

    Any of you using EMule (might also be found via Torrent, I dunno) looking for an interesting collection of fairly modern "rock" from a variety of sources there is an interesting collection set to be found under the search term Best Sampler Ever, which, in my own opinion, manages to equal its brash claim. There's nothing here of the really obvious bands (OK, a couple NIN, a few Pearl Jams), but it's mostly a number of less common ones, many of them European — Madrugada, The Cardigans, Motorpsycho, Mew, Mark Lanegan, Kashmir, Eels, Sophia, and so forth.

    I particularly recommend Madrugada. They're far and away the best thing to come out of Norway since the Vikings, and they sing a heck of a lot better than the Vikings ever did.

    There are eight such samplers, numbered 1 through 8 (actually, the first one does not have a number). Several of them are "2 cd" collections, so it's more than just 8 CDs worth of music.

    I highly recommend trying them if you've got eclectic tastes in music. Even if you have issues with getting them "free", you can certainly try them, then go ahead and get legitimate copies for yourself if you concur that they are, as said, one of the "Best Samplers Ever".

  8. says

    Ken and Soozcat, this is rich. There's actually video of somebody pulling the Free Bird joke on her, to which she responds with her own Free Bird. Salient quote: "I was tired of people ironically requesting Free Bird, so I wrote it."