by Greil Marcus

(1) Cat Power, Dark End of the Street (Matador). Six numbers left over from Jukebox, her deadly covers collection from 2008, but with every song here—most deeply with her version of Brendan Behan’s “The Auld Triangle”—the slow ache of Chan Marshall’s voice comes through like a promise that might take her a lifetime to keep.

(2/3) KT Tunstall, “Little Favours,” from Drastic Fantastic (Virgin, 2007), and “Mr. Fritter,” “The Tunstallator” (YouTube). So fierce on its own terms, as Tunstall’s voice wraps itself around her own body; in another life it opens up into a bizarre video, credited to an “ex-teacher,” a slightly balding man of about thirty-five who’ll turn out to be a cross between Terence Stamp in The Collector, whoever killed the Black Dahlia, and your everyday bondage fetishist. “I just want to show you something I’ve been building for the last few months,” he says before he beckons you into his house to show you a life-size puppet topped by a rotating box of Tunstall faces with an ugly slashed mouth. After jerking the strings on the mouth, on the metal hook that serves as the hand on the plastic guitar, and the body, all in sync to the music—precisely, which only makes it worse—the man, silently singing along with the drumbeat that opens the record, ties the strings around his own face as he kneels before his idol, just like Ed Gein draping the faces of the women he killed over his own. And the song still sounds glorious.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Greil Marcus is currently the Winton Chair Fellow at the University of Minnesota.

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