Chan Reaction

Is Cat Power free at last?

Once the moment's passed, it's over. She doesn't like to listen to her back catalog, and it's difficult for her to perform a song if she's not in the right frame of mind. "I feel, I guess, embarrassed," she says after a long pause. "Different things in my life were really difficult, as they are for everybody in those ages. The drug thing, the sexuality thing, men, boys. I don't know: Society. Feeling like a complete outsider. But then going to shows, seeing all these people at a Jesus Lizard show and not knowing any of them, and then going to another show, like the Peter Jefferies show at the old Knitting Factory, and seeing the same people there, and realizing that there's just this whole communion of people, not only in New York City but all over the fucking world who have this connection through similar music.

"But no," she concludes thoughtfully. "I don't listen to my old music because I've either regressed or grown; I've either gotten stupider or much more stupider, I don't know."

Asked whether Cat Power is a pseudonym or an alter-ego, Marshall seems indecisive. "Let me think. An alter-ego is like Clark Kent and Superman, right? No, I don't think so. I do like to have that sort of -- I know it sounds insane -- but I like to keep Cat Power because it creates not an alter-ego, because I feel like I'm the same person, but for me, for my mental, whatever, problem, it makes me feel like I have some anonymity within."

She hesitates for a few seconds. "It's almost like a joke, kind of."

For Marshall, making music isn't a joke, strictly speaking, but it's far from the most important part of her life. On the highlight of Moon Pix, a delicate dirge called "Colors and the Kids," she sings, "Must be the colors and the kids/That keep me alive/Because the music is boring me to death." Tellingly, it's when she talks about children that she sounds most engaged and passionate. "I've always loved kids," she says. "I think the way I grew up was really harsh -- not harsh, but like I didn't feel like I could be a little kid. My parents were kind of rough people. I'd love to be a mother and knit sweaters and pack school lunches and talk about fairy tales, but I don't know. I think it's just my woman-nature to be... I don't know.

"Michael Jackson is completely insane, but one thing he said that makes perfect sense to me is, 'If all the children were dead tomorrow, I'd jump out the window.' Sometimes I get really depressed -- say something happens in my life and I feel like everything around me is falling apart. Then I think of my niece and nephew, and I feel like such a fucking asshole for feeling so doomed and letting it spiral me down and wanting to jump out of a window or something. I'm Aunt Channy, and I know that if I gave up on myself, if I became a drug addict or committed suicide or whatever, I know that would be just one more thing in their life that would fuck up any kind of proof that you can survive."

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