February 2011

Real Life Rock Top Ten

A Monthly Column
of Everyday Culture
and Found Objects

by Greil Marcus

(1) Jeffrey Foucault, Cold Satellite (JeffreyFoucault.com). A collaboration with the poet Lisa Olstein, who wrote the words for Foucault’s drawl—a drawl that sometimes grows a tail so long it curls around itself, with a country feel that puts the people who live in the Nashville charts to shame. Then a deep-ditch electric guitar takes a country song into the blues, and lets it go back where it came from. Nothing is pressed, to the point that sometimes the way the voice pulls away from a word or a guitar from a phrase is its own kind of preciousness—but not in “Twice I Left Her,” which shifts the music into a more resolute kind of quiet, a bigger emptiness in a single room. An acoustic guitar figure comes up against drums buried far away, like a memory. The story creeps out, and stops well short of its end, though you can glimpse it. Foucault drifts over the words so lightly that they seem to fade as they’re sung, and you might stop trying to hear them as words, let them come as sounds.

(2) Cee Lo Green, “Fuck You,” from The Lady Killer (Elektra). The emotions in these three minutes and forty-two seconds are so wonderfully scrambled—I hate you, I hate your money, I hate her for loving your money, I love her anyway, you can keep your money, just let me have her back, but following you both around all over town is better than staying home and hating myself—that every time the singer gets to the chorus, you can imagine that he’s never felt better in his life.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

Greil Marcus is the author of Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, and The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice, and other books. His column, Real Life Rock Top Ten, runs monthly in the Believer.

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