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Guitar World: liz Phair

Phair Minded

It’s All A Phair game

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“MY FIRST GIG was just terrifying. I didn’t throw up at all; I’m not a vomiter. For a week beforehand I went through every scenario in my mind. I could picture everything. I could picture humiliation and people talking about me afterwards. I could picture the whole audience just standing there judging.”

“You know, when I watch a performance that is awkward, I cringe. I remember being little and watching the Ice Capades, and when someone would fall over I’d be like, ‘Oh, god!’ It would kill me. I projected this onto everyone watching my show. I imagined audiences to be so much more attentive than they would ever be. The reality is they’re wondering about the girl standing next to them, they’re about to go get another beer, whatever. They may be watching, but it isn’t that severe. Of course, I was convinced otherwise. During my first gig I felt really awkward and my voice cracked a bunch of times, but I got through it. It was fine. Clearly, the ball got rolling.”

“Now I’ve had lots of practice. Doing it again and again and a-fucking-gain. And I don’t even tour that much. I figured that I wouldn’t be lousy at it if I could just get through the fright. You know what it is? I grew up being the manipulator. Being the person behind the camera. I grew up an academic. I was never, ever, a performer. I never did recitals, never acted in plays, even though everyone always said I should. I really hated the idea of having that kind of attention without being able to control it. To me, you’re really naked on stage. Now that I’ve got some performing tools to get me through, I can finally get into places that have space. Mental space, where I can get above myself, my appearance and everyone’s judgment of me. And simply be in the music. There was no watershed that broke me through; it was literally step by little step. I imagine it’ll continue like that, because it isn’t something that came naturally to me. It was really interesting to watch myself do it.”

Guitar World, November 1995

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