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What’s playing in Liz Phair’s ear?

Liz Phair: Average, Everyday, Sane/Psycho Super-Goddess

Liz Phair

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The indie princess likes classical (for cooking), Paul Simon (for mellowing out), and Dusty Springfield (for true romance).

By Catherine Gundersen
O: The Oprah Magazine, March 2004

Liz Phair’s music has been called alternative and mainstream, pop and punk. Not Sex Pistols punk, but to-hell-with-what- her-audience-expects punk. Now Phair is taking flack for being too sweet — for shifting from her edgy and cynical 1993 debut, Exile in Guyville (Capitol), to the softer and glossier sound of her latest, self-titled album. But Phair, a 36-year old mother, is a woman of many moods. “The front of my tour bus, where my band hangs out, is very rock dude,” she says. “Then you come to the back, and I’ve decked out my bed in Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, 400 thread counts, and throw pillows everywhere. I think having a room back here for myself–like Virginia Woolf’s room of one’s own — lets me express my girly side.” We asked her about the songs she grooves to:

“I go nuts for Brendan Benson [Lapalco (StarTime)]. It’s acoustic rock with great lyrics, and it’s very ‘up’ music — especially the song ‘Tiny Spark’. I was listening to it the other day and dancing in the aisle of my tour bus, which is like trying to dance on a boat.”

“To relax, I’ll just put on any classical station. I play classical radio when I cook, or when I’m trying to read or write on the computer. I like the structure — it’s like doing math in my head. I also mellow out to Paul Simon‘s Graceland [Warner Bros.] and Bob Marley‘s Exodus [Universal].”

“Something about the Rolling Stones always turns me on [Exile on Main Street (Virgin)]. And Tom Petty, too — especially the song ‘Refugee’ [Damn the Torpedoes (MCA)]. But then there’s the music that makes me feel sensual and soft — Marvin Gaye-type songs [What’s Going On (Universal)]. I like tunes I know really, really well, like ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ [The Very Best of Dusty Springfield (Polygram)] — songs that help you feel open and secure.”

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