Sunday, 22 March 2009

My new favourite lesbian

Some time before Christmas, I got a Facebook request to become friends with a Jill Sobule. Usually, I decline such offers from people whose names I don’t recognise but she came recommended from a good source, a woman film director.

So I became friends with Jill Sobule. Then I noticed she was a songwriter and performer and I somehow found my way to her version of Merry Christmas From The Family — I’d put the one by its writer, Robert Earl Keen, on my Xmas playlist. Hers is the one that’s best known in the US. There’s a sweet, neat video of it.

I learned a little more about her. That she’d done a few other Christmas songs. That she’d had a small hit of sorts with a song called I Kissed A Girl — quite different from the Kate Perry song. There’s a sweet, neat video of that, too.

Then I got a note from her. Nothing personal — I guess all her other 1925 Facebook friends got it, too. It was an invite to a show, in London, a Tuesday night at the Cobden Club.

There were about twenty of us in the audience. She played an odd-looking guitar, mostly like she was a folk-singer but sometimes like she thought she could be Jimi Hendrix. She sang a song about wishing she could get around on a jet pack. She sang one about searching for Bobbie Gentry — with a whole new twist on what got thrown off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

(I was down that way once. A post-office counter worker I met at Robert Johnson’s grave — one of them, anyway — offered to show me the bridge and maybe buy me a drink after. I declined his kind offer.)

She was quite wonderful that night — six songs, all odd, all so original I almost felt a fool for not having heard of her before. So I googled her etc and discovered I was a fool.

Others are not so foolish. Unable to get a deal, she asked her fans to raise the cash for her to record a new album by advance-buying a copy of it. She raised it, no problem, all 75,000 George Washingtons of it.

I downloaded some tracks, from her website and from emusic. Among other things, I heard her crack a great gag that I’d not heard before: my bush would make a better president. I learned, too, that once she wasn’t a lesbian but now she is — she has songs about this. That one about kissing a girl, for example. (I maybe should have got a hint there, no?)

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