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Cat Power sings Bob Dylan’s most punk rock phase: “Booted and destroyed by the media”


She performs in Sao Paulo, at the C6 Fest, with a repertoire dedicated to the singer and Nobel Prize winner for Literature; in an interview with ‘Estadão’, you spoke about the importance of the musician, praised Caetano Veloso and revealed your plan to meet Alice Braga

Chan Marshall, known by name Cat power, returns to Brazil this month. The singer will perform on May 19 at the festival Party C6 – this time, singing Bob Dylan.

With an established name for at least two decades, Cat is a steadfast and sensitive artist. A composer, yes, but also an authentic interpreter: albums that people like The album of covers (2000) solidified her as someone with the chops to sing other artists’ songs. Chan’s career has always had many references and interpretations, but now she ends up entirely with an idol. None other than Dylan, one of the most unique names in American music.

In 2023, inspired by an emblematic performance of her idol, the singer released the live album Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert. The revisiting of Dylan’s 1966 repertoire has become a tour – and it is this special show that the artist will bring to Brazil on Sunday 19th.

Regarding this moment in his career, Chan has many stories to tell. In an interview with Estadao, recalls his relationship with Bob Dylan and reflects on Brazil, music and youth. I wait:

For Chan, Bob Dylan is “real punk rock”

Born in 1972 in Atlanta, Chan learned about music and freedom from an early age. His parents’ house fits into that imaginary United States of the 70s: a chaotic, psychedelic and culturally fertile climate. “I was always around a lot of adults and listened to a lot of bands. My mother’s name was Ziggy. He changed his name because she liked David Bowie. He was very crazy and wild,” he jokes.

Among these influences, Dylan stood out to Chan because he was not unanimous. “One of the things I noticed was that every time Bob Dylan played, people had so many things to say about him. He was controversial. Everyone had strong feelings about Bob,” she says.

“These people were arguing about whether he was good or not and that taught me to like him. I started paying attention to him because his lyrics were so… almost like a joke. Like a riddle.”

Gradually, Dylan became a constant in Chan’s life and ears until, in 2007, she met him in person. The maxim “Do not know your idols” did not apply to her. “I saw it in person in 2007 and even before recording [Cat Sings Dylan]. I’ve seen the shows a million times since I was 16, 15 or 16. This gave me the drive to continue giving him the gift that is his music,” she says.

In particular, Chan has a connection to the recording known as Bob Dylan live 1966, concert at the “Royal Albert Hall”. The infamous performance, from May 1966, is misnamed: in fact, the show took place at the Manchester Free Trade Hall and bootleg recordings confused the location. But the name stuck.

This time Cat wanted to bring the show to the real Royal Albert Hall. “When I found out I was going to do the show there, my first thought was, ‘I want to make this record’.”

After all, he recalls, “they had to invent punk rock on that tour.” “Bob was actually protesting, or coming from a protest against folk singing, and he was challenging the audience. He got booed, they got booed, they got trashed by the media and critics for going electric,” he says he.

“When an artist can continue to do their work despite adversity, that’s truly punk rock,” he adds. For Cat it was important to “give the album to the world”, reintroducing some of Bob Dylan’s work to young people.

“I hope that maybe younger people can get to know Dylan and lose the fear of taking risks. Because it’s the young people who make the revolution,” he declares. “The world…everything is so messed up. We needed it [Dylan]”.

Consequentially, Cat sings Dylan ’66 it is a contemporary tribute to the musician’s rebellion. The arrangements are faithful to the original songs, leaving much of the inventiveness to Chan’s distinctive voice. “I wanted to convey the songs beautifully, elegantly, perhaps as Bob wanted them to be. With grace and dignity,” he says.

Chan’s Brazil: Caetano Veloso, feijoada and Alice Braga

Titled to Mr. Tamburello AND Like a rolling stone, Chan is excited to bring the “God Dylan” repertoire to Brazil. He performs on the second day of the festival, right before the band Pavement. “Wow, are we going to party like in the 90s?”, he jokes.

In fact, it already has a relationship with the country – from other carnivals. In addition to having performed here several times, Chan has also considered moving to Rio de Janeiro. For her, Brazil has a special characteristic. “It’s powerful. All the life that comes from Brazil. The medicine of the Amazon. The music. Caetano Veloso. His way of playing the guitar…”, she recalls. “Food, people’s energy.”

And he has a favorite memory: “Oh my God, the first time I put feijoada in my mouth and thought, ‘I’m at my grandmother’s house. My grandmother is cooking it in the kitchen.'”

Chan intends to revive that energy and dive into Brazil. In fact, your plans here also include dinner with actress Alice Braga. “I met her on social media, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in person. But I saw her work and we want to talk about some things,” she says.

“I needed to overcome my past”

Between dinners, tours and releases, Chan is full steam ahead. In addition to the tribute to Dylan, she is already preparing her new album, entitled Opus. But according to her, it’s still all a learning process. “I take art and music very seriously. When I like them, I dedicate myself to them. I haven’t learned anything. I’m still learning.”

It’s truly punk rock: A 52-year-old artist and mother, Chan has faced addiction and mental health issues. For her it’s part of the process. “I’m so happy with my choices, but sometimes I’m stubborn. I needed to revisit my past, I needed to learn the hard way to be myself,” she reflects.

“And being a woman, you know, that’s the most important thing. It was a man’s world and it’s not anymore, we reject it now. And we don’t need to rely on recognition or acceptance from a man’s world “, He says.

Does a woman’s voice give the songs a different tone? For Chan, yes. “[Quando uma mulher interpreta a música, fica com] more compassion, more translation. When Nina Simone covered Wild is the wind, by David Bowie, I was amazed. I learned something from the resonance of his voice that I hadn’t learned from listening to David Bowie. And that’s why I love covers, because they can move us deeply and change the way we feel. This is a gift.”

After all, Cat Power knows the value of your voice. “To be able to sing as a 52-year-old single mother, you know… I come from a family with no money, no nothing. These are mixed lineages of native Cherokee, German, Jewish, black, Irish. So with all this turmoil, I feel like I carry a legacy within me,” he concludes.

Source: Terra

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