Hello my music-loving loves…..
Sometimes I need to stop talking about any and everything that is going on with my own stupid work and problems and just shoot the shit about something else.
I wanna talk for a second about my old friend, Regina Spektor. She’s got a new album out right now, and tonight, I’m going to leave my hidey-hole in the woods with my friends Coco and Rachel and we are going to take the choo-choo down to see Regina play her first show ever at Carnegie Hall in New York.
The show was originally supposed to be a few months ago; Regina’s dad died. She postponed. It is going to be a very emotional night, I expect. For her. For me, for all our friends. For everybody in the house. (Is anybody here going? Tell me in the comments, I’ll look out for ya).
This is Regina’s new album:
Back in around 2003/4, I was hanging around the drama kids at my old alma mater, Lexington High School, and a student named Anna Vogelzang gave me a burned CD of Regina’s first record, “Soviet Kitsch”. I probably inwardly rolled my eyes at this high school kid thinking they could turn me on to something worthy. (And by the by, Anna has become a powerhouse artist in her own right, and is here on Patreon).
I remember hearing that record – Regina’s voice, the piano, the words – and thinking there is somebody out there who speaks the same language.
The way her words seemed to go through no filter, just straight from the dream-brain to the song-voice; or, perhaps, a filter that felt like a familiar filter, a home-planet filter. A filter made of glitter and cheesecloth and webs and old raggedy jackets worn by crazed dead classical composers, a filter made of old womens sweaters and shawls…a filter that sorted out the pop mainstream and left behind the gems of lyric and song where sadness and joy and silliness and grief and the oddness of humanity was all allowed to exist all in the same place. I knew this place. I loved this place. Regina sang about, and of, this place.
Her album prior to Soviet Kitch, “Songs”, is just as powerfully magical and honest and weird. I only needed to hear “Reading Time with Pickle” to feel like I’d found one of those rare, rare artists, fellow weirdos, kindred travelers. Brian felt it, too.
I maintain that “Chemo Limo” is one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard, and I still find new layers of meaning in it every single time I listen (or try to cover it, which I have attempted, a few times).
That was the early days of my band, The Dresden Dolls; we were in Boston cutting our teeth, and Regina was in New York with the anti-folk scene playing the Sidewalk cafe and hanging out with The Strokes, and we invited her to come open for us for a tour or two. We made friends. We would cheer Regina on from side of stage while she smacked the shit out of a wooden chair with a drumstick and play piano with the other hand. (Still a fabulous trick).
Then Regina signed to Sony and put out “Fidelity” and shot to stardom. We watched in awe and pride. I still get excited every time Regina puts out a record, and there’s very few artists I can actually say that about. Everything makes me tired. But when I know Regina has new songs, I get hungry to have them in my ears.
Regina and I are so different: we’ve had polar opposite approaches to crowds and The Internet (I’m very public, Regina is not). But we still speak a similar language, and that never changes. It’s a little like having a weird song-sibling.
The old days…in the freezing cold before a show in Philly.
If you don’t know her work…I’d suggest starting with “Songs”, “Soviet Kitsch” – still my favorite – and then listening to “Begin to Hope”, then “Far”. Then keep going.
This song that I embedded above is from the new record – “Home, Before and After”, and it’s an old fan favorite from 20 years ago that Regina re-worked and re-orchestrated for this new album.
Another fave of mine: “Apres Moi“….a force majeur of classical-heavy-metal-music, words and song. I could go on and on….
When I listened to this new album – which is personal to me in so many ways I cannot talk about – I was in the car with Ash, driving to Maine. Regina had sent me an advance copy.
I listened to her sing the lyrics in Loveology…and it got me below the belt.
This song, right now, is what I needed to hear.
I hope it gets you through a few minutes of your night tonight, if you’re having a hard time.
Or maybe delights you in the kitchen while you’re doing dishes, and need a good cry.
I love you all so much.
I’ve been having a hard few weeks; writing this post makes me happier, lighter. I love this musician, these songs, this work. this life. These coincidences of time and space and sound.
The end. Big Regina Spektor fan here, can you tell?
ANYWAY….please support our friend Regina, go see her on tour when you can…and most of all: buy her new album.
You can get it here on APPLE MUSIC, and it’s… everywhere on the Internet.
For extra world-merging bonus points: the album has arrangemnets by my wonderful friend and fellow patronator Jherek Bischoff, and was produced by my bestie John Congleton (who also produced and engineered “Theatre is Evil”, my kickstarter Record, and “There will Be No Intermission”, my last crowdfunded record here on patreon). I’m going to get to see John at the concert tonight. (It’s been three years since I saw him.)
Also…if you have favorite Regina videos, songs, stories….please share them here. I’d love to read.