The Year in Music: 2008

Actress Scarlett Johansson released a truly weird record. Anywhere I Lay My Head is an album of (mostly) Tom Waits cover songs sung by Johansson as a sub-alto, bizarro-universe Annie Lennox. Her voice is actually more grating than Waits’, if you can imagine that. But fans of Waits may enjoy these interpretations. And there’s a chance that Johansson’s stylings may be an acquired taste, though I very much doubt this is true.

Open wounds

She marched past me with purpose, not even noticing me, it seemed. Her eyes shimmered. I could almost hear her heart breaking when she tried the door and found it locked. She turned back toward me and spoke for the first time.

And she began pouring her heart out to me. She was in tears as she spoke. The fresh grief of her infant grandson’s death was raked up and torn open by an act that was probably contemplated for all of thirty seconds.

In one reckless decision, a woman’s soul was wrung out; and there were still tears left to fall.

As Real As He Can Get

The songs on this collection reveal a man who has come to terms with his sexuality, his choices and his place in the world, both professional and personally. And the record is done artfully enough that, even though the songs are intensely personal, there is something there for the listener to grab onto.

Pop Joyride

Then the song opens up, like pulling the curtains on a dark room. As light pours in, everything changes. Guitars trade grit for tinkle; kick drum gives way to high-hat and splash; the bass lightens its step. And then the keyboard takes up its song, standing in for the vocals. A beautiful, light melody fills the newly-brightened space. For a moment, I’m the one kissing on a moonlit rooftop.

50 Acres of Pain

“I hate myself, I wanna kill you,” he sings. I wonder if this song is written to a lover or friend, or if the case shifts with the comma and Scum is actually talking to himself. These kind of questions pervade the record, and one listen won’t be enough to get any answers.