Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Best Albums Of 2008 #5

Scarlett Johansson-Anywhere I Lay My Head

“Scarlett Johansson, you are accused of crimes against pop music. How do you plead?” I say “not guilty.” Let me explain. The very idea of actress Scarlett Johansson releasing an album this year was met with annoyance, disgust, and dismissal. The ghosts of Don Johnson and Bruce Willis were brought up. The Times Of London groused that Johansson has “a bleat that only a deaf mother could love.” I’m here to say that the critics have missed the point. In 2007, I saw Johansson jump on stage with The Jesus & Mary Chain at Coachella to sing “Just Like Honey.” The point isn’t that her voice stinks. The point is that she gets it.

What does she get, exactly? Music, kids. Scarlett Johansson gives a crap about music. This is why she recorded an album of Tom Waits covers. Tom friggin’ Waits, people! Any actress who has the cajones to record an album of Tom Waits covers get the benefit of the doubt. Anyone who can reel in TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek to produce said Tom Waits cover album obviously gets it. Anyone who can lure David Bowie out of virtual retirement to sing backup on two tracks on said Tom Waits cover album obviously gets it. Anywhere I Lay My Head is a bizarre, ethereal, clusterfuck of a Tom Waits cover album. It’s beautiful. It’s confusing as hell. It got me through my freaking divorce, people! It matters, in my book.

“Falling Down”

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