Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'd Buy Anything By...Kirsty MacColl

I can hardly be authoritative about Kirsty MacColl because I've only recently fallen in love with her. For years I'd heard her mentioned as a brilliant songwriter, but it wasn't until I started performing Tracey Ullmann's cover of "They Don't Know" that I decided to investigate the source.

MacColl was a witty songwriter with a totally unorthodox voice, and it's sad that much of her music (and image) remained so locked in '80s pop: jangly guitars, slick production, prefabricated synths. Like several other artists I've mentioned in this "I'd Buy Anything" series, I certainly don't like ALL of her music -- I don't even like MOST of it -- but I recognize her talent and I revel in her better moments.

Here's "Terry," one of her earliest singles. It didn't go anywhere but it illustrated MacColl's ability to work clever rhymes, social commentary, and deadpan humour into a song.

As far as I can tell her music only caught on in North America on two occasions. First, in her brilliant duet with The Pogues ("Fairytale of New York," in case you haven't been to a Christmas party lately), and second during her big 2000 comeback: "In These Shoes?"

So seventeen years after "Terry," here's her wildly popular song, and a video that NEEDS to be put in a time capsule as a cross section of common human sexuality. Look quick and you'll see Kirsty twice...I'll let you pick her out.

Kirsty MacColl's death -- at the age of 41 -- was horrifying. While scuba diving with her children in Mexico, a speeding motorboat in a diving-only area struck and killed her. The boat was owned by an influential millionaire who allegedly managed to shift the blame to a lackey and avoid all criminal charges. Many feel that justice was never done.


Kimber said...

What a great video! Loved it. Is Kirsty the red-stocking girl? What a horrible tragedy - her poor kids. Thanks for giving me some background on her; I'd always wondered who the singer was in that Pogues song.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I think she was much more famous in England than she ever was here...that Pogues song is a stroke of brilliance! Though I can't bring myself to like any of their other work. :)

In the "Not In These Shoes" video, Kirsty is the stocky woman who talks briefly to the bride near the end, and who is then part of the conga line. She has very long red hair.

It's sort of a "Where's Waldo?" thing.