Friday, December 10, 2010

For a Song: On the Greener Side

Michelle Shocked: On the Greener Side


On the Greener Side was the first song that grabbed me from Michelle Shocked’s album Captain Swing. I picked up on her from the beginning, having read an article about the accidental release of The Texas Campfire Tapes. Short Sharp Shocked was her first proper album, the first release that sounded the way she wanted, and there are traces of folk, blues, and yes, even jazz a bit. So I never understood why Captain Swing, with its embrace of swing-era jazz, was such a shock to her fans. I felt then and now that anything was possible from Shocked, and her later albums bear this out. Also, on Captain Swing, Shocked didn’t even go as far as, say, Joe Jackson on his album Jumpin’ Jive. What Captain Swing showed was that swing was an influence on Shocked, one of many. The music sounds joyous, but it often stands in ironic contrast to the content of the lyrics, as happens here. Shocked has always been an artist who can make this work for her.