I write about songs.

Archive for the ‘Sam Phillips’ Category

Sam Phillips, “Don’t Do Anything”

Love Song Week, continued. I guess it’s only appropriate that a song with this title would be accompanied by a video that doesn’t do anything.

Written by peterterzian

May 26, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Sam Phillips

Sam Phillips, “Magic For Everybody,” “Reflecting Light”

The message of this song is something that’s said pretty often, and should be obvious anyway—the perfect being the enemy of the good—and yet it’s still something I have to think about every day. For years I wrestled with what I came to see, rightly or  wrongly, as a kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder, where I wanted to complete every action flawlessly. Brush all the teeth in the proper way as explained by the dentist for two minutes exactly; keep everything on my writing desk neatly squared with the corners. Sometimes I even tried to think flawlessly. Of course life isn’t like that: you get out the door late, you order wrong, you mumble. So every day I would fail. In time I came to realize that, for many deep-seated psychological reasons that I won’t get into here, I was setting myself up to fail—failing was the point. And so I keep reminding myself that life isn’t a succession of potentially perfect days, and that sooner or later I’ll nail one, but that it’s really a jumble of moments, some good and some bad and most just fine, with a lot of squeaks and rattles, as Sam Phillips sings here. I realize that I sound like a Real Simple article. I still try to keep my writing desk neat though.

Sam is one of those performers who, like Kristin Hersh, has come up with a pretty inventive way to distribute her music. Last year I joined her year-long subscription service, “The Long Play.” For fifty-two dollars, she sends me five digital EPs, one every two months, made up of new songs, new versions of her old songs, Christmas music, a collaboration with a string quartet; at the end of a year’s time, I’ll receive her new full-length album.

I first heard Sam Phillips in the mid-’90s, when her album Martinis and Bikinis came out. Around that time someone, most likely inspired by her strikingly beautiful looks, convinced her that she should star in, of all things, a Die Hard sequel, playing a cold-blooded killer. Apparently they cut out all of her dialogue scenes, so in the finished film she plays a mute cold-blooded killer. I was such a fan that I went to see the movie. It was forgettable, but Sam was there to be gazed upon, as Pauline Kael said of Garbo. She’s very funny talking about the experience in the clip below, which an audience member filmed at an in-store appearance at a Borders bookshop. The song she performs afterward, “Reflecting Light,” is her favorite of all her songs, she says—it’s mine too.

Written by peterterzian

May 2, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Sam Phillips


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