I first started listening to Cat Power my freshman year of college. I don’t even remember where I first heard her, but I can bet it was from Pandora. No, I take that back. It was from Bones. Brennan was listening to The Greatest and I grasped so hard to the song that I continued on to play it just about everyday while in college. It just holds so much meaning and opens up my mind and pretty much wakes me up. It’s ironic, because Cat’s voice is very raspy and she generally sings in a whispery sort of fashion. So, for this song to wake me up means that I drop everything, clear my mind, and focus.
It’s just a beautiful track. “Once, I wanted to be The Greatest.” What does it mean to be the greatest? What does it mean to be all that you are and above all that you are? It takes a lot of courage to surpass your own strength and rise up. Be brave. Challenge yourself. Then, as a woman, this song really throws that feminist punch. “No wind or waterfall can stall me.” It’s easy to lose focus and dwell on feelings and emotions from those around you. Even romantic ones. And I’ll open up a little right now and say that not so long ago I almost let myself fall hard for someone and change all of my plans based on whether or not that someone would finally realize that I was pining for him.
And, I won’t punish myself for this moment of weakness. I allowed myself to feel and open up, but at the same time it just wasn’t something worth what I was willing to give up. Fortunately, I have moved on and gotten my head back on with my eyes peering forward. Romance is nice, but you have to truly and wholly love yourself and what you’re doing first. Be completely happy with who you are and all that you have accomplished before you share that love with someone else. At the time, my mind was too clouded and I wasn’t happy with my personal journey. I just wasn’t finished with my plans and I wasn’t focused enough. Diving into something like a relationship could have ruined me.
Anyway, this song always just drives home that feeling of being in control. Yes, I am allowed to be emotional. To be strong. To be selfish. To be happy. To be focused. I am allowed to be the greatest…compared to others and compared to myself. I am allowed to rise up.
There are just certain musical artists that speak to me. Ryan Adams, Coldplay, Radiohead (Thom Yorke), and Cat Power. It’s like, Ke’ara, shut off everything around you and listen. Focus. I’ve read a lot about Cat Power’s personal journey in the music biz, and some of it is heartbreaking and most of it is encouraging and inspiring. She’s gone through a lot and has had some breakdowns on stage and she’s had some blossoming moments of pure beauty.
Because live music shouldn’t be this brief, mindless, performance in front of strangers. It should be a moment to feel every once of emotion that you put into the music. It’s your song. It’s your story. It’s your soul. And sometimes it’s not pretty. It’s not perfect. It’s not some robotic, straightforward, constructed thing. It’s bits and pieces of all sorts of rushes of feelings. And it should show. It should reach out and smack those in the audience. It should make them feel… you.
Cat Power does that and I think with this entertainment industry, her truths and raw emotion just doesn’t get read or understood the way it should. Because those people just aren’t prepared for it or on that same wavelength. There are just too many facades in the entertainment industry, and Cat Power is basically one in the handful of artists who are just beyond those standards. Way beyond. She’s one of the greatest.
‘Til next time.