My Top 1000 Songs #63: Fuck And Run
The early 80s saw acts like the Blake Babies, Bettie Serveert, and the Breeders breaking through. But of all the great albums of the era, none left a mark quite like Liz Phair's 1993 debut Exile in Guyville. I've prattled on about it plenty, both in my book and on this site, so no need to repeat myself. But that album--and particularly the stunning centerpiece "Fuck And Run"--brought gender politics front and center in a way few others attempted. And unlike 90s riot grrl acts like Bikini Kill, who made comparable statements in purer punk form, Phair tethered her uniquely outspoken and explosive lyrics to the sort of indie rock I was already listening to, making it much easier for her music to slide into my sweet spot.
"Fuck and Run" (and, no, for obvious reasons it wasn't released as a single; the art above is from a bootleg capturing an early Phair concert) is a wonder. Yes, musically it's catchy and infectious, with her distinctive, deceptively odd guitar stylings paired with a stripped-down but propulsive beat. But it's the lyrics that are attention-grabbing, an incredibly vulnerable, somewhat regretful look back at a one-night stand, the sort of emotion all but unknown in music offerings of male artists. Nobody in Guyville made music that sounded anything like this, and the ability of this song to both sadden and shock has diminished not a bit over the intervening three decades. It's one of the few songs I can recite entirely from memory; not a lot of songwriters can claim the same knack for such unforgettable lyrics. "I woke up alarmed. I didn't know where I was at first, just that I woke up in your arms. And almost immediately I felt sorry. 'Cause I didn't think this would happen again."Live in '99:Noise-pop act Surfer Blood had a great take (largely faithful, boldly leaving the gender intact) on their recent covers album: