Friday, December 14, 2012

Telling stories

Last week over on The Barstool, I paid homage to Michelle Shocked as one of my favourite singer-songwriters - an admission I felt some of my readers (over there, at any rate) might have found somewhat 'unexpected'.

I find myself surprised that I haven't mentioned her on here more often.

One of the things that has inhibited me is perhaps that there's comparatively little of her work available on YouTube. My absolute favourite of her songs is a very early one called The Ballad of Patch-Eye and Meg, which is a charming little tune and an exquisitely crafted lyric - a seemingly rather frivolous catalogue song ambushing you at the end with an unexpected flash of insight that creates a perfect moment of distilled heartache. I especially love the fact that the song's ostensible subjects - a reminiscence of childhood, a long-ago failed love affair - are in fact just pretexts for something that I find even more joyous and profound: this is a celebration of the craft of story-telling.

Alas, there's still - as far as I can discover - no video of Michelle performing this herself. So, we'll have to make do with this - an animated video accompanying a cover of the song by a German singer who calls herself Banjochrystal.

However, among the videos that Michelle has posted herself, this is the one I like best, Wanted Man - another that beautifully demonstrates her natural flair as a raconteuse. The embed code isn't working, unfortunately. But do go and check that performance out - marvellous stuff.

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