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CLIP-Holly Golightly

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  • Bill Silvers
    For Carl, from the KC Pitch Weekly: From pitch.com Originally published by The Pitch Oct 02, 2003 ©2003 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved. British Steel
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2003
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      For Carl, from the KC Pitch Weekly:

      From pitch.com
      Originally published by The Pitch Oct 02, 2003
      ©2003 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.
      British Steel
      Holly Golightly isn't exactly happy-go-lucky.
      BY GEOFF HARKNESS

      Holly Golightly
      Details: With KO and the Knockouts
      Music Date: Tuesday, October 7
      Where: The Bottleneck

      The slurry affront comes from the back, somewhere near the bar,
      stopping both the band and the audience dead in their tracks: "Go
      back to England, you fake motherfucker!"

      Holly Golightly is a few songs into a ninety-minute set at the
      Subterranean, a two-tiered nightclub in Chicago's bustling Bucktown
      district, when the brickbat is hurled her way. It's only the second
      date of an exhaustive six-week U.S. tour, and Golightly is in no mood
      for hecklers, particularly of the besotted frat-boy variety.

      "Bring it on," she bristles, all attitude and British accent and jet-
      black hair. "I'm ready for you. Come up here and get your cock out. "

      The crowd titters, but Golightly's invitation is accepted. Moments
      later, the willowy frontwoman and her three-piece band are sharing
      the stage with an inebriated doofus whose attempts to unfasten his
      zipper aren't going well. He grabs a nearby microphone and mumbles
      something about biting off more than he can chew.

      "We don't want to hear you," Golightly mocks. "Get your cock out.
      Now!"

      He leans toward the singer and fumbles with his crotch.

      "Don't show it to me," she chides, shoving him away. "Don't touch
      me."

      The audience, tired of the interruption, begins to chant: Off the
      stage, off the stage.

      Golightly strums a chord on her vintage Hofner hollow-body. "This is
      a fake song from England," she announces as the heckler finally
      retreats from sight.

      "I just love a big mouth," Golightly says, rolling her eyes as the
      song ends. "So much going for him."

      She then diverts from the prescribed set list, giving the band a
      break and pulling out the moody "Comedy Time." Golightly spits out
      the words like rat poison, closing the number with an impromptu
      lyrical twist: The gang's all here/The girls and boys/And that bloke
      with the stupid cock.

      Looks like it's going to be one of those nights.

      "I don't want to be touring indefinitely," Golightly says. It's a few
      hours earlier in a nearby restaurant, and she's sipping lemonade and
      jonesing for a smoke. "I mean, if you're like the Rolling Stones and
      you just get flown everywhere, I suppose it's a whole different
      thing. But on the level that I do it, it's the nearest thing to a
      traveling circus, really. Turn up, unload your gear, play, load your
      gear, drive out of town. To do it like that is just soul-destroying."

      When Golightly hits you with her big, brown eyes and says something
      like this -- all the while bedecked in a snug, charcoal-colored
      halter and blue jeans that could've been spray painted on her
      diminutive frame -- she's at her charming best, spinning yarns and
      tossing off one-liners with a droll flair for wordplay. She's casual,
      unassuming and strikingly beautiful. You're hooked.

      Golightly is charming the pants off America these days, largely
      thanks to a star turn on the White Stripes' Elephant earlier this
      year. Golightly sings on the album's final tune, "It's True That We
      Love One Another," a folksy quirkfest that finds Golightly trading
      knee-slapping lines with Jack and Meg White. The pairing wasn't
      terribly surprising (Golightly and the Stripes are former labelmates
      who have performed live together), but the high-profile cameo
      transformed Golightly into an unlikely overnight sensation -- more
      than a decade into her career.

      "We've known each other a long time," Golightly says. "We had talked
      about doing stuff before, but it never worked out at the time. I'd
      played with them quite a bit. It just so happened that that time, I
      was there and they were there, and Jack came running 'round with this
      piece of paper, saying, 'Oh, we're gonna try this song.' It wasn't an
      epiphany. He just knocked on the door."

      The tune's pain-pill-popping lyrics (I gave that horse a carrot/So
      he'd break your foot, Jack croons) are biographical. Before becoming
      a working musician at age 21, Golightly was an internationally known
      horse trainer and pro rider. She's never given up the occupation
      completely, and last year her ankle was mangled while directing a
      massive steed from a trailer. It wasn't the first time Golightly, who
      sports an imposing horseshoe tattoo on her right shoulder and an
      oversized silver, U-shaped ring, had been injured in the name of
      horseplay; a serious riding-related injury in her late teens led to
      Golightly's stiff yet effective guitar style.

      "I have a plate in my arm," she chirps, offering her left appendage
      for inspection. "And I can't play a barre chord -- I don't have the
      strength in my index finger. But [longtime partner and drummer Bruce
      Brand] showed me a way to play a barre chord, and that was it. As
      soon as I could make the noise, it inspired me. 'Cause before that, I
      was only playing open chords. And I was a punk-rock girl -- I wanted
      to do songs I liked and not just do slow Beatles songs."

      She needn't have worried. With the newly acquired arsenal of power
      chords at her disposal, Golightly established a reputation as a
      prolific singer and songwriter. Under the tutelage of eccentric
      British journeyman Billy Childish, she caused a stir with Thee
      Headcoatees, a brash punk-girl quartet that took the UK underground
      by storm. In 1995, Golightly issued her solo debut, though she
      continued to tour and record with Thee Headcoatees for another four
      years. Her latest effort, Truly She Is None Other, is her eleventh
      solo outing, not including a number of one-off projects and guest
      appearances. Critics and fans are taken by Golightly's piercing
      caterwaul, which invokes the spirits of America's musical past.

      "I quite like the idea that there was a time when there wasn't radio,
      when there wasn't records," Golightly says. "People on one side of
      the mountain didn't know what people on the other side of the
      mountain sounded like. Everyone sounded fuckin' brilliant 'cause no
      one was rippin' anybody else off. They just had their own thing goin'
      on. So my affinity is more for the spirit of the thing than the music
      itself. It's a shame, because I should really feel the same about
      traditional British music. But if I'm walking into a bar and Irish
      music is playing, it grates on me. The sound of bagpipes is just
      hideous noise."

      You won't find any bagpipes on Golightly's latest, but her authentic
      approach to music-making is apparent. Not one to laze around the
      house writing songs all day, Golightly continues to keep a day job.
      (She manages housing for low-income residents.) She has no plans to
      leave what she calls the real world, though Golightly makes more than
      enough to support herself through CD sales.

      "I don't know who they are," she says of her audience. "I have no
      idea who buys the records at all. I don't really have a strategy, so
      I haven't really targeted my market. I don't care. I just get on with
      the thing I do. In commercial terms, I'm not particularly ambitious.
      I don't cling to the idea that one day everybody will know who I
      am, 'cause I'd rather they didn't."

      The real question, then, is: What exactly does Holly Golightly care
      about?

      "I care about playing music with my friends, and I care about how
      happy I am with it," she says. "I've been doing what I do for a very
      long time without any compromise, and that's something I'm proud of.
      Saying that I don't care who buys my records, that's really not my
      attitude. I don't have a bad attitude towards it. I think a lot of
      people find me really hard and unapproachable. But that's them, not
      me."

      Some fans might disagree. Hours later, toward the end of her
      Subterranean set, an audience member calls out a request for an
      obscure Mummies song.

      "Why would you even come here tonight if you want to hear a Mummies
      song?" Golightly retorts. "I'll tell you what -- I'm gonna ruin your
      evening and play one of my songs."

      Maybe it was just one of those nights.
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