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Ask Forgiveness, by Bonnie Prince Billy

Posted by Miss Ess, November 29, 2007 07:20pm | Post a Comment
Most of this week I have been listening to the new EP Ask Forgiveness by Bonnie Prince Billy, just repeating it over and over.  It features 7 covers and one new original.

will oldham bonnie prince billy ask forgiveness

The best tracks are the Danzig cover "Am I Demon", and the Phil Ochs cover "My Life".  Yeah, there's an R. Kelly cwill oldham bonnie prince billyover on there too, of "The World's Greatest", and it's funny and semi ironic and all, but I like other stuff on the cd much better. 

Bonnie Prince Billy is always both covering and writing songs about identity and struggling with that whole thing! Previous tracks "Little Boy Blue" and "Wolf Among Wolves" both are about those kind of issues.  Anyway, the Danzig track is slow and pretty and asks "Am I Demon?/I need to know".  We all get the somewhat resigned answer by the end of the song. I love when BPB ends the phrases by singing waaay up high.  It's lovely.  It's fun to hear a song about demons that's all folky and acoustic and notphil ochs all the news that's fit to sing screamed! 

I'm a fan of Phil Ochs (See the name of my blog!), and it's great to hear someone like BPB covering him since he was such a talent and so brilliant and cutting.  His lyrics are better than about 90% of everyone else's, give or take a few percentage points, of course.  Anyway, "My Life" is a beautiful choice, and I guess it's yet another song about identity, about what life means and changes and paranoia and growing up.  I guess it covers a lot of ground!  It's really a poem:

My life was once a joy to me,
Never knowing, I was growing, everyday.
My life was once a toy to me,
And I wound it and I found it ran away.
So I raced through the night
With a face at my feet, like a God I would write,
All the melodies were sweet, and the women were white.
It was easy to survive, my life was so alive.

My life was once a flag to me
And I waved it and behaved like I was told.
My life was once a drag to me
And I loudly, and I proudly, lost control
I was drawn by a dream
I was loved by a lie, every serf on the scene
Begged me to buy.
But I slipped through the scheme
So lucky to fail
My life was not for sale.
My life is now a myth to me
Like the drifter, with his laughter in the dawn.

My life is now a death to me
So I'll mold it and I'll hold it till I'm born
So I turned to the land
Where I'm so out of place
Throw a curse on the plan
In return for the grace
To know where I stand
Take everything I own
Take your tap from my phone
And leave my life alone
My life alone.

meg baird espersAlso included all over this EP are beautiful harmonies by Meg Baird of Espers-- 
she's kinda whispery and warble-y and flawless.  

Now that I am continuing still to listen to the songs, the Sinatra cover "Cycles" is also really genius.
Really, the whole cd is worth checking out-- I have to say I kinda love it all!  I'm impressed with BPB's 
cover choices--they really are all over the map.  Hopefully this is a sign that a full length record is not too 
far off in the New Year. 

Relevant Tags

Will Oldham (13), Bonnie Prince Billy (16), Meg Baird (2), Phil Ochs (3)