Cat Power: Records That Changed My Life


6th Nov 2023 Music

4 min read

Cat Power: Records That Changed My Life
Cat Power is a musician who fearlessly explores different musical styles to pair them with her confessional lyrics. We sat down with the artist to ask about the albums that made her the musician she is today
Cat Power (known to her friends as "Chan") is a musician known for carefully balancing deeply confessional lyrics with a constantly evolving sound. While many people may know her from her iconic 2006 album The Greatest, many new fans were introduced to her when her cover of Phil Phillips’ Sea of Love was featured in not one but two Hollywood blockbusters: 2007’s Juno and 2022’s My Policeman. Over her career, her style has grown to incorporate blues, jazz, hip hop and rock, amongst others.
Today, she is gearing up to release her Bob Dylan cover album Cat Power Sings Dylan, which will recreate his 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert. We sat down with the iconic singer to ask her which four albums most influenced her unique and adventurous musical style.

Hüsker Dü, Metal Circus

I think I was eleven when I heard this. My eldest sister gave me a cassette of Hüsker Dü's Metal Circus. It’s a post-hardcore sort of sound; there are hints of thrash, hints of a lot of different things. Just put on the song "Diane", because that will tell you everything you need to know. It’s a three-piece, guitar-based and drums. Sadly, it’s the one band that I never got to see live.
"It made me hunt for a current band, for something new"
I was trying to find music on the college radio and they were playing The Cure and Black Flag, but this is what I really connected with. "Diane" is one of my favourite songs. This album changed my life in so many ways. It made me hunt for a current band, for something new; it was through them that I found bands like The Birthday Party.

Ciccone Youth, The Whitey Album 

I was probably about 15 when I listened to this for the first time. I was driving my Dad’s Nissan and I listened to it on cassette. I knew Sonic Youth and I remember looking at this cassette and recognising the members of the band. I saw there were Madonna songs on the album too. I was so confused.
"It was all artists then. They were artists who had nothing, so they made up their own sound"
Basically, the album was Ciccone Youth’s response to Pussy Galore’s Exile on Main St album for the Stones. The Whitey name references the Beatles. Every song is amazing, but the song "Making the Nature Scene" is just beautiful. I knew the band was coming from New York and I imagined that scene in New York then. It was all artists then. They were artists who had nothing, so they made up their own sound. It was modern because they didn’t have the tools to play classically. I thought Madonna was the coolest too, because of how she moved to New York to become a dancer and became a part of that scene.
Back in Atlanta, I imagined I was in that scene and I’d beg the DJs to play these songs.

Flat Duo Jets, Go Go Harlem Baby

I was in Buckhead and I saw this bass player and a big drummer with a really tiny drum set. This guy’s voice just came in a rush. If you took Buddy Holly and the ghosts of early rock and injected it into a wolfman (Benicio Del Toro’s Wolfman), you would have this voice. My mouth was wide open, I was just blown away. Eventually, I ended up seeing them a million times. Dex (Dexter Romweber, one half of the Flat Duo Jets) would come into the pizza place I worked at.
It took me years to actually get the album physically. For a long time, I didn’t have the record memorised, but, eventually, I saw Dex at a show in New York. I got to hang out with him and got this album. I was so proud of him, because they were just as strong as when I first saw them. Although it was a wild album and it was echoing from the past, it showed me that there were true originals in the world.

Bob Dylan, Desire and Blood on the Tracks

I know I’ve chosen two albums here, but they’re both Bob Dylan and one was important to me when I was younger and one was important when I was older.
When I was in a dark place, I really dove into the songs on Desire. In that dark place, I played a lot of "Oh Sister", "Isis" and "One More Cup of Coffee." As I got sober, I listened to Blood on the Tracks. I learnt a lot about myself and a lot about relationships. As I was moving forward with my life, I listened to so much of that album. I got back to fonder things in my life.
"As I began to move forward with my life, I listened to so much of "Blood on the Tracks""
"Shelter from the Storm" became my ballad. It may sound like a diva thing but, right before I go on stage, I need to sit by myself in a room. Dance music backstage can be a little bit distracting, so I go to a little area by myself and listen to that song. I light some incense and a candle and get grounded. Supposedly, Bob Dylan really had feelings for Edie Sedgwick and there’s a part in "Simple Twist of Fate" that I think he wrote for her. He talks about meeting on a park bench and I think about them meeting there. It’s so heartbreaking, but it’s so beautiful.
Banner credit: Cat Power (Inez & Vinoodh)
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