June 23, 2003

A Letter to Liz Phair


Dear Liz,

Hello! How are you? How are you enjoying your new life as a sell-out media whore?

Let me start over.

Hello Liz Phair. I have been a fan of yours for many years. Though I happened upon your body of work well after you'd started in the industry, I have listened to and valued your albums with such intensity since discovering them, that I feel justified in calling myself a true fan.

I have never written a letter to an artist before. No, not even a fake letter like this that will never actually get to the artist. Let's not quibble. The point here is that while there are many actors, artists, musicians and the like that I admire, I have never felt the urge to address personally another human being with which I have had no personal contact.

Frankly, I had never thought of addressing you until quite recently. Your music up until now has been nothing short of inspired, but the image I had of you as an artist came crashing down around me not two weeks ago. I was driving with my friend Jolie, when a catchy little pop tune came on the radio. I noted that I'd never heard this particular hook, and sat back to enjoy what I anticipated to be another listenable, but generic song from the likes of Avril Lavigne, or perhaps Michelle Branch. But nay, my good friend informed me that this was the new Liz Phair single she'd heard and had indeed warned me was not quite up to par.

Not quite? Not at all!! Liz, how could you? The melody was repetitive and sickly sweet. The lyrics were banal, reminiscent of the inner-workings of a 14-year-old girl's brain. As I drove along listening to you, with your newly "improved" vocal range, apparently modeled after the Olsen twins on helium, I wondered what on earth could make you trade in lyrics like "fuck and run, fuck and run... even when I was 17, fuck and run, fuck and run... even when I was 12" for "Why can't I breathe, whenever I think about you..."

I know some people thought you'd already sold out on your last album, "whitechocolatespaceegg", but I was willing to stand by you even then. Though your lyrics and music were less angry, less blunt (no more "I want to fuck you like a dog, I'll take you home and make you like it") you were still questioning conventions:

"Do you wanna be a polyester bride?
Do you wanna hang your head and die?
Do you wanna find alligator cowboy boots they just put on sale?
Do you wanna flap your wings and fly away from here?"

and analyzing your life:

"All these babies are born
to the wrong kind of people.
And I wish I had known I was not good enough."

Now what? You're hyperventilating? It's not that I can't enjoy the good bubble-gum song now and again. But from you, Liz Phair? I feel like a life-long Christian who, flipping through the channels, sees a commercial for a new sitcom starring Tony Danza and Jesus Christ. I mean, there's nothing terribly wrong with sitcoms, but he's the fucking savior of our souls!

I know I don't really know you, Liz Phair, and I suppose you must do what you must do. But you've let me down. You've traded in your insight, honesty, and biting humour for a spot on the top-20 countdown and cover shoots on all the best teen magazines. I thank you for your previous artistic efforts, and wish you much luck with your new career, you fucking hypocritical bitch.

With much sincerity,

Posted by ms*d at June 23, 2003 01:29 PM

Dear Liz,

I've also been deeply disturbed by your recent decision to sell out. I find even more unsettling the thought that this may not be a recent decision at all. Has this been your plan all along? On your last album, "whitechocolatespaceegg," you warned us of what was to come with your second to last song, "shitloads of money." Your lyrics,
"It's nice to be liked
But it's better by far to get paid
I know that most of the friends that I have
Don't really see it that way
But if you can give 'em each one wish
How much do you wanna bet?
They'd which success for themselves and their friends
And that would include lots of money
It would surely include lots of money
You've got to have shitloads of M-O-N-E-Y, money,"
were blatant forshadowing.

How could we have been so blind? Tell me Liz, will your new, pre-teen fans love you more than we did? They may be able to buy more cds with their weekly allowance for now. But 12 year-olds will lose interest in someone more than 3 times their age pretty quickly. Don't forget Liz, 12 year-olds like to fuck and run.


Posted by: Jolie on June 23, 2003 02:26 PM

Dear Liz,
How are you? I am fine.
I am not playing Balderdash any more.
Will you go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with me?

[ ]Yes
[ ]No

Posted by: Jacob on June 23, 2003 04:10 PM

well... i still like her, i guess... when i listened to that song, the first thing that hit me (as i relayed to jolie) was "oooooooh its liz phair's voice!! i love her voice!!"

nobody will ever steal her voice or produce it away, and i'll love that... plus, shes, what, like her 30s... i know when im that age i dont wanna be singing about fucking when i was 12 and 17 (cuz itd just remind me how old i was) and id feel silly complaining about boys the same way i used to.

granted, i could just be imagining that her new stuff has some new maturity, but oh well.

like any other artist, i dont blame liz for selling out. she does what she has to do. she has a kid now... she needs major buckos, and exile and whip-smart never sold over 1 million records like avril's production team the matrix can churn out.

yes, plus i too am a sell-out so i need to justify myself as well :)


Posted by: jason R on June 23, 2003 06:00 PM

Ok, I can see not wanting to sing about fucking when I was 12 at the age of 36. But how can creating songs that should be on sountracks to Olson twin movies be any more desirable? I would much rather be reminded that I'm old, but wiser for my years, than be catering to an audience that's closer to my own child in age just because that's where the money is.

Posted by: Jolie on June 23, 2003 08:01 PM

Dear Liz,

I saw the Olson twins on a magazine cover not long ago. It made me want to puke. Those girls would never fuck and run. That would be like an Oprah who fucks and runs...We all know that is impossible. What I'm trying to say is, you should stick to you fucking roots and run with the creative impulses that have guided your career thus far. Granted, I don't know much about the music industry, but I've also held onto a feeble hope that there's more to music than industry, and that the courageous souls who are metaphorically fucking and running with their music are the ones who will be appreciated for years to come. But that won't get you the Grammy. Sorry babe, it's going to the Olson twins when their album comes out.


p.s. doesn't it suck to have all us nobodies ragging on you? don't you want to put out a kickass album now to make up for past mistakes? don't you? Huh? Please?

Posted by: Cody on June 23, 2003 08:18 PM

how many of these people know liz phair personally? how do you know this isnt the direction she feels like taking? just because you cant relate to the music anymore doesnt mean that she is somehow faking it.
why do we expect musicians to never change? everyone changes, and as much as you may hate it, some people change to a more marketable version of themselves.
unless someone has been in the situation of choosing money or "art" and truly chosen art, they should get the hell off their high horse.

Posted by: clara on July 31, 2003 09:46 AM

dear clara,

i understand your need to defend ms. phair. i have found myself blanching at others who disparage her, even while silently cursing her name under my breath. the urge to stay loyal is strong. however, i must disagree with you that we have no place to judge. when artists present themselves to the world, it is with the understanding that people will form opinions about their music, opinions which we are free to change, just as she is free to swap her underground feminist hipness for a chance to have her song appear in mandy moore's new movie. so, she can stay on top of the charts, and i'll stay right here on top of my horse, thank you very much.

but in other news, you are the first random person to comment on threequarters, so along with my biting retort, you also receive my most appreciative thanks! good on you!

from the queen of mixed messages, ms*d

Posted by: erica on July 31, 2003 11:23 AM

dear erica,
please grow up.
k thx,

Posted by: andrewjthomas on February 10, 2004 02:52 PM


I dont know your music. I dont even know who you are. But let me tell you something, Theres nothing wrong with being a whore, that is if you are one. Im one too! :D

Mail me if you'd like to chat sometime :)

By the way, im not black. Im white. I like black people though they are cool.

Posted by: dewb on February 10, 2004 10:28 PM


Besides your beauty, your music is awesome!! You are truly a queen!!!! I am your biggest fan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: David on December 28, 2004 11:20 AM

Liz, WIll you marry me???????????? LOL!!!!


Posted by: David on December 28, 2004 11:22 AM