One thought on “Liz Phair, the Dixie Chicks and America’s Recent Culture Wars”

  1. It only took me until Whip Smart before I figured out that Liz Phair really didn’t have that much to say. That’s not a slam on Exile In Guyville either; I enjoy that album very much and still feel it’s one of the most important releases in the past twenty years. But some artists only have one album of greatness in them, and sadly, that seemed to be the case with Liz by the time Whip Smart was released.

    Reflecting on this, I don’t question Ms. Phair’s ambition. Instead, I wonder if all the attention that “Guyville” produced didn’t catch Liz a little off guard. And when trying to top it suddenly became impossible, she decided to simply appeal to the market that buys more records than her fickle supporters. Sure, I would have liked to see her build on the fans of “Guyville,” but it’s her career, not mine. It would be important to point out that I firmly believe “Guyville”‘s 400,000 owners will probably continue to champion that record and play it for the unitiated. “Liz Phair,” on the other hand, is disposable that will post stagnate sales after a while and unceremoniously fall out of print. Sean Cassidy sold a hell of a lot more copies than Television during the time of their releases, but guess which one continues to sell today?

    The unfortunate thing is that 300,000 copies isn’t enough to convince those Capitol execs to keep Liz on the roster. And with her credibility now in question among the snobs, where does she go? Back to Matador? Would they even want her back?

    The comparison between Dylan and Phair is a nice read, but reaching. Her choice of producers is not an “artistic response, similar to going electric.” Her choice of the Matrix simply covered up her artistic flaws (off-key singing, limited guitar ability) rather than enhance her natural abilities. Ironically, it was these things that helped make “Guyville” so endearing and honest. Liz may claim that her eponymous release is “very much about who (she) is,” thanks to the polished Matrix studio work, it sounds as genuine as Avril Lavigne singing the blues.

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