That Dandy Classic Track of the Day #19

Speak For Me – Cat Power (You Are Free, 2003)

Indie rock chanteuse Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) labored long-and-hard on her 2003 effort “You Are Free” and when it came out was able to meet just about every expectation fans and critics and alike brought to its release (over a year recording some 40 tracks). From this album we selected our Dandy Track of the Day “Speak For Me”, which in my humble opinion is an indie rock masterpiece.

Beginning with an unassuming bass strum (played by one Dave Grohl) she sets the scene lyrically for what seems to be criticism for someone or something  (hell it could be about something institutional for all I know) that thinks it’s speaking for her personally or someone else. It builds slowly (P.J. Harvey-style) before at the :54 second mark she opens up the song as we’re joined by subtle drumming (again David Grohl), piano and vocal overdubs that are sublime.

As we wind our way through the chorus (“All in all, it’s or none, all for one what you want”) the song takes on a mid-tempo momentum that seems so interlocked and tight that the production seems bigger than it actually is. The slow-down part out of the chorus with the guitar is a perfect dynamic to regroup the song. From there she builds up to another awesome crescendo at around the 2:08 mark that rides us out majestically. For me the highlights include the piano playing over the top and just the way the song unfolds in general should be taught in songwriting 101. Do yourself a favor and play this one. More than once.

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