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On The Record: Liz Phair on Exile In Guyville (Matador)

The Phairer Sex

Grrrls Talk

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Q: Did you just decide to make a double album and say “What’s a good one? How about Exile on Main Street?”

A: “That’s exactly what I did. (laughs) People are missing the humor involved here. It’s not a big horrible thing I’ve done. It’s a really funny thing I’ve done.”

Q: Had you listened to Exile before you decided to do it?

A: “I was familiar with a couple of the songs, but no, I’d never heard it before. My friends moved out of the apartment that I moved into, and it was one of the three tapes they left behind. Actually, in retrospect, a friend told me that he said I should put out a second album concurrent with my first. But I thought he meant I should do a double album. And I was like, ‘Hey, that’s a good idea.’ But then I was sitting around my apartment thinking like, ‘What’s a good double album?’ because I don’t really buy records, and there was Exile and I’m like, ‘That’s the one’. It was just kind of honestly like a lightning bolt. It gripped me. It was one of those things you couldn’t really explain in any rational sense. And the more I listened to it, the more it was perfectly appropriate. I really just spent a month or so listening to it nonstop everywhere I went, and I began to organize my songs in a correspondence with themes I’d seen in Exile. My song ‘6’1″‘ was the best equivalent I could put of ‘Rocks Off’, dealing with the same issue from a female point of view, the same sort of pacing on the song, the same type of song. I made lists and lists and lists of the songs of what Exile’s songs were — three words or less, what kind of song is this? — and I made tons of sequence lists, different orders of the songs I wanted to do. So I just kind of went through my own library of songs. It was like writing a thesis, taking a song of mine and somehow putting it in a dialogue with a song on Exile, both sonically and lyrically.”

Q:You’ve been called a standard-bearer for post-feminism.

A: “Hell no, hell no. (laughs) I’m a songwriter, you know….”

By Susan Hamre
Request, August 1993

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