By Melissa Maerz
Spin, December 2005
Liz Phair has always been the type of singer you’d bring home to Mom — if Mom were a trash-talking sexpert. But now that even Britney’s become a MILF, Phair’s gone the family-values route. On her new album, Somebody’s Miracle, the 38-year-old mother of an eight-year-old soapboxes against alcoholism, laments the divorce wrecks lives, and calls out to the Lord. We asked her if he ever called back.
You talk to God on “Wind and the Mountain”. Have you turned religious?
My dad’s an atheist doctor. He’s worked with AIDS patients, so it’s disturbing to hear him say, “There’s nothing after you die.” I’ve never been able to sit happily in church, but i pray every night. It’s not like God seizes me and says, “Liz, you know what you have to do.” I don’t get my prayers answered directly. But I get strength.
Your new songs emphasize marriage and family. As the American public gets more conservative, do you tailor your music to match it?
I don’t think my music is more conservative; I’m just less preoccupied with tearing other people’s ideas down. Having kids teaches you to adapt to people you might not have much in common with. One of my friends is a Republican who took her kids out of school to drive them to the Reagan Memorial. I’m against Bush, but I think he’d be a good person to have over for dinner.
In “Stars and Planets”, you tell young women that being a pop star isn’t about glamour. Do you really believe that?
I thought about this when I was on The Tonight Show. Sheryl Crow invited me to sing with her. I had nothing to do that week but pick out my outfit. When I got there all dressed up, she was looking at me like, “Ah shit.” I should have put attention on her music, not my outfit. I’ll never forget that lesson. Pop isn’t about teaching a pretty girl to sing; it’s about finding someone who can share human things through her music, then trying to make her look better.
You sing, “Two more years, then I’ll go back to school.” If this record fails, will you be college-bound?
If this record, and the next one don’t do well, I’ll just get fired. Maybe I’d write a book or go into photography. I’ve always wanted to be an important artist in some area — it doesn’t have to be music. But until then, I’ll keep working.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Liz Phair
- Miracle was inspired by Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life.
- Independence Day is a favorite movie of hers.
- She wants to write a feminist handbook with actress Robin Tunney.
- She says she doesn’t make enough money to buy the house she is living in.
- She’s currently reading Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching.
Featured Image: Liz Phair photographed by Kevin Mazuri