By Amy Benfer
Metro (Toronto), October 18, 2005
Liz Phair is a good example of the bad things that can happen when everyone believes you just might be her best friend.
Twelve years ago, her debut album, Exile In Guyville, made her an icon of intelligent, feminist indie songwriting. Perhaps her fans’ identification also gave them a sense of ownership. When Phair got married and had a child, people were worried her new happiness might make her go soft. And in 2003, when she released a self-titled album, with tracks produced by the Matrix and a glossy music video, many fans reacted like jealous lovers.
“It was whacky,” Phair says of the reaction. “But I think people were afraid. They were thinking, ‘What does this mean about indie if the indie queen went mainstream?’ It’s like they were defending their territory. But I was thinking, ‘I’m 36 and not hanging out in the indie scene anymore.'”
But there were a lot of fans who were still attached to Exile In Guyville.
“It wasn’t a happy experience for me,” Phair says. “I went from just being this person in the neighbourhood, to having all kinds of people saying things about me. ‘She can’t sing. She can’t play. It’s just because she talks about sex. She’s a media whore.’ People forget about those things. But I don’t forget.”
After a summer tour playing acoustic shows at small venues, Phair is once again on the road to promote her latest album, Somebody’s Miracle. She takes the stage at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto on Sunday.
Phair is adjusting to playing with a band on tour.
“It’s harder for me with a full band, because that’s not how I write,” she says. “Playing acoustic is closer to how I experience my songs at home in my bedroom. I still haven’t come to terms with playing with a full band.”
As for whether she has spotted a difference between her past fans and those who came to see her in 2003, she says she did notice a change, at first.
“I could see a bride’s side and a groom’s side at my shows,” Phair says. “But the live shows at the end of that tour were some of the best I’ve ever done.”