Sunday, 12 June 2016

Misunderstood Masterpiece

You know what they say? 'Sexy' is not about the looks. 'Sexy' is about enthusiasm. I've always liked that. Enthusiasm can take many forms, and there's no accounting for all of them, but one thing I know for sure: Scarlett Johansson's maligned/ignored album of Tom Waits covers, Anywhere I Lay My Head, is very sexy. 

Now of course this album is wrong. Everything about it is wrong. Even the actual idea of Scarlett Johansson recording an album of Tom Waits songs will make your head shake uncontrollably. Her vocals lack an ounce of subtlety. The rendition of "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" is straight from butcher's shop. The record sounds vulgar and tasteless. David Sitek can't save it. Thing is  I absolutely love it.

Maybe an evil coincidence, maybe a cunning plan, but Johansson even chooses four of my favourite Waits songs. "Town With No Cheer", "Anywhere I Lay My Head", "Fannin Street" and the unforgettable "Falling Down". The last two feature – hold your fucking hat! – David Bowie on backing vocals. He may have been blackmailed into this, I don't know, but the edge he brings is unmistakable. 

Now of course Anywhere I Lay My Head is not a 'masterpiece'. Hell, it's not even 'misunderstood'. But I do hope that in a few hundred years someone will recognise it as such. Because it sounds glorious. It has passion seeping through the chords and Scarlett's vocals in a way that is most vulgar and profane. It sounds coarse and romantic. It sounds like dirty sex. It sounds incredible.