The Runaround

In 2010 I interviewed Liz Phair  and during the long rambling conversation not recorded there, I told her — I can’t remember how this came up for the life of me — that for a horrible long amount of time I’d had the Blues Traveler song Runaround stuck in my head for no reason I could discern. Liz told me her theory that when you get a song stuck in your head, if it’s not a song you’ve heard recently, the lyrics are a coded message from your subconscious and you have to figure out what they mean.

"Emily, who or what in your life is giving you the runaround?" Liz asked me. 

This remains one of my favorite things that has ever happened in my life thus far. Also, I think it’s true. The competing theory is this (the “Hey Ya” theory.) 

I am what is called a sex-positive feminist. Or maybe a radical feminist, or, wait–this one’s cool: an anarcha-feminist! Which is to say that I don’t give a f— about your labels, I just want to hear the true voices of women self-expressing–smart ones, stupid ones, ugly ones, beautiful ones, good ones, bad ones, fat ones, thin ones, all of it–until the profound silence that has resounded throughout history is filled with a healthy chorus coming from our side of the aisle.
Liz Phair forever

I met Liz Phair!  I was almost too shy to go for it, too.  I was leaving to get my coat and a bouncer spotted the VIP sticker which I had subtly attached to my left thigh and said, “Just wait here for a minute” and I was like “Oh no oh god okay,” and I waited in a hallway with various people with much better claims to VIP status than mine, then went up to her dressing room.  I don’t want to taint this holy experience with words (seriously) but man, it’s nuts to see someone up on stage really being a rock star —singing about wanting to be mesmerizing, being mesmerizing — and then a few minutes later being a totally chill regular person who is making sure everyone has a beer.  I also learned that the top half of her Stevieish corset/long flowy skirt combo (!!!) was from Victoria’s Secret (!!!!!)


Anyway, I post this song because she played it during the encore and it’s definitely not one I ever thought I’d hear live.  Man. 


Did you know Liz Phair sang back-up vocals on “Soak Up The Sun”?  She did.  She was playing basketball at a recording studio which disrupted Sheryl Crow’s actual attempts to work so she invited her to sing along.  Watch for the basketball player graphic in the official vid…

I did know this, because I am an insane obsessed Liz Phair superfan, but I had never seen this clip before.  I really like how resolutely un-backup-singery Liz’s behavior is.  Like obviously she is going to wear a tshirt with some inappropriate joke on it and a casual Friday miniskirt to be on the Tonight show, and of course she is going to sort of shuffle around the stage while making these cute unaffected slightly eyerolly facial expressions, all while Sheryl Crow has totally done hair and makeup and very practiced eye moves for the camera and is wearing some kind of designer serape.  And then of course instead of asking them anything like an interesting question about how they met (which: seriously, I’m curious!  “Hi, aren’t you the girl who stole some of the more marketable aspects of my schtick and put a high gloss on them?”  “Sure am, let me send you a bed as recompense, I am made of dollars!”) Jay Leno is like “You’re both women!  Unfunny innuendo!” 

Also I got a press release yesterday that Liz is releasing Funstyle with Girlysound as a bonus disc on October 19, and also she has announced some West Coast tour dates.  Bennett has the full scoop on this and also he promises to post an interview with Liz later this week. OMG for real.


Blood Keeper (1997 Studio Version) by Liz Phair

The WCSE Sessions

Hot damn this blog keeps bringing the (in my mind) hits.  I love this song.  It’s a little bit Liz Phair’s Courtney-channeling moment, in the best possible way?  “I’m obsessed, I’m a wreck, I’m insane/ isn’t that what you want me to say?” 

"After my first record came out, I read everything. I was so amazed that I was in the press. Now everyone’s like, “Oh, Guyville, it’s so wonderful, it’s so pure.” Well, I lived through it and at the time it was a shitstorm, of people being like ‘She can’t sing, she can’t play, who the fuck does she think she is, she’s a fraud, she dyes her hair blond, she’s playing up her sexuality which is why she sells.’ And then there’s other people saying ‘She’s the second coming of Jesus.’

And then it came time for me to write the next record, and I really couldn’t. Because I was so crippled. You know, you become an artist, you become an observer, of life, and you digest life by making art about it. What happened when I read all that stuff was: I felt their eyes—even as I was creating—I felt those voices saying, ‘Oh, let’s do that’ or ‘Let’s do this.’ And it. Just. Fucked. Me. Up.”

- Liz Phair


I wrote something online about the unique pressures and responsibilities of writing online, and how sometimes women-focused blogs like Jezebel, Broadsheet, and XX — the lattermost of which published it — don’t live up to them.  As usual some people agreed with me and some people didn’t.  Because they were writing online the people who didn’t agree with me mostly resorted to a. misstating my argument based on half-reading the piece while b. calling me names.  This is nothing new; what is new is my conviction that most of the people who make a big point of identifying themselves first and foremost online as feminists — in their Twitter bios or the “description” lines of their blogs — are actually about as “feminist” as Tucker Max.  Also, that no one will ever let me forget that I worked at Gawker, no matter how many years pass, no matter how much other stuff I do and no matter how different that stuff is from what I did during 2006-7. 

I don’t work at Gawker now; I don’t work at Slate now.  I don’t work anywhere.  The thing I read about myself during my bedtime narci-google yesterday that raised my hackles the most was being called “Slate’s Emily Gould.”  I got paid $400 to write the piece I describe above, and that was after wheedling.   For $400, I don’t get to be “Slate’s Emily Gould.”  I am no one’s Emily Gould but my own, and I have the scary letters from the IRS and the unopened bills for medical specialists to prove it.  I had zero incentive to “boost pageviews” or “uniques” with that piece.  I wrote it because I felt like someone had to.   This is maybe a bad or self-destructive impulse, but at this point it feels like even if I try,  I can’t get out of what I’m into.

Oh also, I wrote an advice column about being a writer at The Faster Times, for free.  Please click on it so that next month when rent is due I can pay my landlady in attention.