a novelty for female singers to address sexual issues candidly, and a line could
be drawn from "Guyville" to Lena Dunham's HBO series "Girls," with its
unflinching views on young female sexuality and its devil-may-care attitude
about making the characters likable. Dunham, like Phair, attended Oberlin
College in Ohio.
Phair, now 46, doesn't revisit "Guyville" as if taking a victory lap. "I didn't feel like that period was a happy one for me," she says from her Los Angeles-area home, "and I sort of spent my life learning to be a better-balanced, less angry individual."
Yet she, Kato and "Guyville" producer Brad Wood returned to "Guyville" in separate conversations to piece together how this young visual artist managed to make an album for the ages.
Phair had home-recorded a much-copied and praised series of cassettes called "Girly Sound" that came to the attention of Matador co-owner Gerard Cosloy around the time she called him to try to get on his label. She'd also, in a non-girlfriendy way, moved into the Ukrainian Village apartment of John Henderson, who owned the local label Feel Good All Over Records and played the cassettes for Wood, co-owner of the nearby Idful Studios.
A wowed Wood signed on to record her, but Henderson and Phair butted heads at early sessions, so Henderson departed. Meanwhile, Phair decided to configure her album _ which would feature some reworked "Girly Sound" songs, some newer songs and some yet-to-be-written songs _ as a track-by-track response to the Rolling Stones' landmark 1972 double album "Exile on Main Street," which she'd recently come across.
Phair: I was very academic in my approach to it. I'm like, I'm going to make little symbols to describe certain types of songs or certain types of feels, and then I'm going to put these symbols next to all the "Exile on Main Street" songs, and then I'm going to put these symbols next to my songs ... and I would try to match them up. I was also stoned, but it made sense to me.
Wood: I thought she was pushing it a little bit to find a correlation between some songs, but it didn't really matter. The pacing of the album is pretty great, I think, and it was a great template to have.
Phair: He was my muse. He was the guy I was sort of singing at. Even though I didn't write all the songs about him, once I compiled it, he was my Mick Jagger character. He represented the person that I wanted to understand, couldn't understand, looked at a lot but couldn't quite bring myself to go for.
Kato: She was leaving little love notes that sort of hearkened back to junior-high days when girls would shove perfumed pieces of paper through the vent of your locker (laughs).
Phair: I don't think we ever actually went all the way (laughs). I think I was too scared. In fact I know I was (still laughing). But we had like a few entanglements, and I definitely was just gaga for him. I thought all the rest of the men in the area looked like boys in comparison.
Kato: Uh, let's just say she didn't attempt to conceal her enthusiasm.
Wood: Her guitar playing is amazing. I'd like to just sit there and watch her play. She has a really interesting style, and she's a lot more technical than either she'll let on, because she does it in such an offhanded way, or than many
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