As has previously been discussed, Kristin Hersh is a genius. Therefore, with the lady's kind permission, I'm going to post a few of her songs over the next week, hopefully like an introduction to her varied and fascinating catalogue.
The first one was originally (believe it or not) a B-side, but has since become a real Throwing Muses classic, and a live favourite as well. I had the pleasure and privilege of hearing this one live recently, at one of Kristin's recent London show. As part of the 1980 Forward celebrations (for 4AD's twenty-fifth birthday), she played a set of Throwing Muses songs which, although apparently tough going in some respects, were an absolute beauty, maybe in the top three gigs I've ever attended? One of the highlights was this one, Cottonmouth. Kristin told the story on the night of how she and her sister (I take it to mean Tanya Donnelly, apologies if I'm wrong) were in a bar listening to the conversation between another two sisters, and the song is pretty much a transcription of this conversation. It's a lovely song indeed, driving and yet touching. In fairly self-effacing manner, K decided that most of her songs are ripped from other people - I think most people would beg to differ, I'd like to see anyone else at all manage to put together such a pretty and moving song from another person's conversation...
It's very different in Kristin's solo acoustic guise to the original recording, which has the Muses' wonderfully sparse arrangement, weaving acoustic guitar, the usual inch-perfect drums and a wonderfully prominent bass-part. It makes no difference either way though, it's still an affecting and beautiful song.
You can get Cottonmouth on the new 4AD comp, 1980 Forward, which is incidentally a great CD also featuring Pixies, Cocteau Twins, Tarnation, The Birthday Party, Mountain Goats, all sorts. Or, for seven days, you can download it from the link above.