My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I first saw Chan Marshall singing in 2007 Chanel Haute Couture, while models were swanning around like ethereal fairies in gorgeous Chanel wardrobes. Better known as her stage name “Cat Power,” she was the Queen of the Show in her graceful poise whimsically mixed with her super cool urban retro-chic fashion singing a soulful and powerful melody of ballads like a stylish bohemian troubadour. So I downloaded her songs from iTunes and loved her solitary lyrics imbued with Southern blues soul and offbeat timbres probably as a result of her elbow room in the beloved New York City. To top it all off, Chan Marshall became one of My Nine Muses.
Cat Power: A Good Woman by Elizabeth Goodman is a beautifully written memoir of the enigmatic singer as a result of Goodman’s own adoration of the singer as a fan. Of all other books on Chan Marshall, this book is par excellence in the context of regarding the beautiful play of words, the elliptical table of contents, the journalistic efforts to sleuth for buried truths, and the audacity to publish all of it against her adored heroine’s own disapproval thereof afterward because the book seemed to lay it all bare in public. But Ms. Marshall’s worries could have been assured, for the book makes her all the more human and real, imparting a sense of empathy and sympathy because all her frailties and foibles, in one way or another, strike the chords with ours as well. Does everybody not have a dark registrar and think the cold star on a wide sea seems to betoken one’s life? Goodman whose writing feat had achieved grace in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and NME (“New Musical Express”) knew the universal ethos of such human conditions that had also enveloped the beautiful musician in the person of Chan Marshall. The title of the book is a summation of Goodman’s reality of the star.
In sum, the book is a comprehensive memoir of Chan Marshall, who reminds me of a cross between Francoise Hardy in style and Patti Smith in music. In the peculiar alchemy of literature, Goodman wielded her writer wand to conjure up the image of Chan Marshall in the book that also appositely strikes the cover of the book. Pace the criticism of the book as a rip-off from Ms. Marshall’s privacy and of the author as a jilted ex-friend for the reason unknown, it is worth the reading by the sheer enjoyment of good writing and Goodman’s affinity for popular culture, especially in music.