Indigo Girls: Poseidon and the Bitter Bug
Go See Them: The Indigo Girls play at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Big Top Chautauqua. Brandi Carlile opens.
Length of first spin: Something like 45 minutes. I only skipped two songs, and one of those songs I really liked, I just didn’t feel like hearing it anymore. Such is the fickled nature of 3 Spin Review.
Working knowledge of the Indigo Girls: Like any woman who attended high school and college in the 1990s, I am very familiar with the Indigo Girls, who were the musical dichotomy to all that Pearl Jam and Nirvana. While the flannel shirts were similar, the Indigo Girls played their angst and harmonized their heartbreaks. I once took a 24-hour trip from the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minn., to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D., to see the Indigo Girls play a $5 show. I want to say I saw them at Lilith Fair in Shakopee, Minn., in 1999, but I’m afraid that I’m mixing Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks, Beth Orton and Sarah McLachlin and subconsciously assuming that you can’t have that much grrrl rock without conjuring the Indigo Girls.
As if you’ve never heard of them: No brief bio necessary.
Note: This is a double CD, one acoustic, one with a full band. For a few hours out of the day I prefer the former, the rest of the time, the latter. I asked Amy Ray which version she prefered, and she couldn’t decide, either. Although she said she likes the band version because she always hears them play acoustic.
A brief essay on music: I lost touch with the Indigo Girls after buying their live double CD "1200" in the mid-1990s. I’m not sure why a person stops listening to music she likes, despite the fact that the music is still being made. In fact, five studio CDs were released in the absense of my ears. I floated a hypothesis past my boyfriend. It is an untamed collection of ideas that went something like this:
When CDs were first mainstreamed, they were expensive to me of little income. So when I got something like "Swamp Ophelia" or 10,000 Maniacs, or The Smiths Greatest Vol. 2, I listened to it incessantly. Learning every nuance of every song and embedding them, apparently perminantly, into my brain. Then, two years later, a new Indigo Girls CD would be released. A whole fleet of new songs that it would take months, years, to develop a similar familiarity with. A daunting task, considering the additional material I was listening to: Lemonheads, Juliana Hatfield, Jesus & Mary Chain, etc. And so some things dropped out of my rotation, like the Indigo Girls. The desire for new, different, unclaimed music was stronger than listening to the tried and true. Hasta la pasta, Amy and Emily.
Assessment: Ohhhhhhh. This is so good. So, so, so good. What is it about the Indigo Girls that makes you want to go for long drives in a ratty albeit fashionable straw hat? Sit around a campfire? Write in a journal and look at the world a little more closely. Buy a dog. Borrow a guitar. Lay in a hammock. Open your windows. Use pine-flavored cleaning products. Get in a water fight with a hose. Finger paint. Grill out. Take deep and happy sighs.
If I could do the past 15 years over again, I’d add more Indigo Girls. This CD isn’t breaking any new territory. There is a song that is so similar to "Power of Two," and other songs that seem so familiar that the tunes are easily remembered. But it’s so, so, so good.
My picks: "Digging For Your Dream" and "Driver Education" (originally a solo piece by Amy) and "I’ll Change."
What someone else says: "In the end, ‘Poseidon’ follows the pretty but predictable model that has worked for the Indigo Girls for 20 years, and outdoor pavilion crowds everywhere will no doubt be thrilled with the result." Judy Coleman, Boston Globe
3 Spin Review is a feature where I receive a CD in the mail. Take a quick zip, skipping ahead when a song starts to poke my brain, lingering when it has immediate appeal. Second spin includes listening to it while I’m doing something else. Third spin I actually decide if I like what I’m hearing. These brief reviews will also include my working knowledge of said band, so you know whether my opinion is trustworthy, and then the opinion of someone else who has reviewed the CD.