Tracks of the Decade: “Star Witness” by Neko Case


“Star Witness”
by Neko Case
from FOX CONFESSOR BRINGS THE FLOOD
Curiously, the most disputed lyric in the song “Star Witness” is also the only lyric omitted from the official listing on Neko Case’s website. I’m pretty sure it goes something like “Hey there, there are such deadly [dandy] wolves round tonight, round the town tonight,” but by keeping the song’s chorus shrouded in mystery, Case achieves the numinous here, a great and rare achievement in pop music. The album on which we find “Star Witness”, FOX CONFESSOR BRINGS THE FLOOD, is undoubtedly one of the most under-lauded records of the decade, an intense waking dream exploring the ethereal twilight of the Old South. Besides Case’s typically star-shattering vocals, the track’s standout performance is Paul Rigby’s watery guitar figure. Rigby simultaneously brings a powerful warmth and a nostalgic sadness to the affair, transcending what might otherwise have been too reminiscent of Wayne Cochran’s “Last Kiss”, re-popularized a few yars back by Pearl Jam. There’s some really impressive imagery here, recalling classic Springsteen like “Thunder Road” (“My nightgown sweeps the pavement clean”) and
“Stolen Car” (“My true love drowned in a dirty old pan of oil that did run from the block of a Falcon Sedan 1969”). But am I even sure what Neko is singing about? Nope, not a clue. All that really matters is that “Star Witness” is gorgeous as hell, the kind of utterly visionary work of art that crashes into your consciousness and makes its home like an old wreck on the highway.

neko case“Star Witness”
by Neko Case
from FOX CONFESSOR BRINGS THE FLOOD (2006)

Curiously, the most disputed lyric in the song “Star Witness” is also the only lyric omitted from the official listing on Neko Case’s website. I’m pretty sure it goes something like “Hey there, there are such deadly [dandy] wolves round tonight, round the town tonight,” but by keeping the song’s chorus shrouded in mystery, Case achieves the numinous here, a great and rare achievement in pop music. The album on which we find “Star Witness”, FOX CONFESSOR BRINGS THE FLOOD, is undoubtedly one of the most under-lauded records of the decade, an intense waking dream exploring the ethereal twilight of the Old South. Besides Case’s typically star-shattering vocals, this track’s standout performance is Paul Rigby’s watery guitar figure. Rigby simultaneously brings a powerful warmth and a nostalgic sadness to the affair, transcending what might otherwise have been too reminiscent of Wayne Cochran’s “Last Kiss”, re-popularized a few years back by Pearl Jam. There’s some really impressive imagery here, recalling classic Springsteen like “Thunder Road” (“My nightgown sweeps the pavement clean”) and “Stolen Car” (“My true love drowned in a dirty old pan of oil that did run from the block of a Falcon Sedan 1969”). But am I even sure what Neko is singing about? Nope, not a clue. All that really matters is that “Star Witness” is gorgeous as hell, the kind of utterly visionary work of art that crashes into your consciousness and makes its home like an old wreck on the highway. File this under SOUTHERN GOTHIC; I think Flannery would be proud.

download from her website for free

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One Response to Tracks of the Decade: “Star Witness” by Neko Case

  1. Pingback: Tracks of the Decade (so far) « Sweet Georgia Breezes

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