Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Music
cover art

Leona Anderson

Music to Suffer By

(Trunk; US: 3 Aug 2010; UK: 2 Aug 2010)

Leona Anderson’s 53-year-old magnum opus was recorded when Ms. Anderson was in her mid-70s. At the time, the liner notes of Music to Suffer By touted her as “THE WORLDS (sic) MOST HORRIBLE SINGER”, and they had a point.  The story goes that she tried over and over to find glory as a classically-trained opera singer, but was repeatedly dropped by those who would classically train her. Eventually, she came to take pride in her deficiency of talent, using it on this album as a weapon satirizing the performance of the self-important opera set. We hear such standards as “Habanera” from Carmen and Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris”, and originals such as the hilarious German/English mashup that is “Hep Cat” (whose refrain goes “Ich bin ein hep cat!”). All of the songs feature extended notes that are ever so slightly and gratingly flat, passages in which Ms. Anderson takes a breath between every (gasp) single (wheeze) syllable, and phrasing as uncomfortable as the lyrical conceit of “Limburger Lover” (use your imagination). How much of the awfulness is intentional? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it is awful, and that is its primary selling point. Music to Suffer By is both a disaster and an appealing curiosity, but in the end, it’s difficult to defend the purchase of music whose primary function is to provoke a quick smile as you look for something that’s actually worth listening to.

Rating:

Mike Schiller is a software engineer in Buffalo, NY who enjoys filling the free time he finds with media of any sort -- music, movies, and lately, video games. Stepping into the role of PopMatters Multimedia editor in 2006 after having written music and game reviews for two years previous, he has renewed his passion for gaming to levels not seen since his fondly-remembered college days of ethernet-enabled dorm rooms and all-night Goldeneye marathons. His three children unconditionally approve of their father's most recent set of obsessions.


Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.