Star (1993) :: Belly
Some albums bring forth strong feelings, others recall past loves or first kisses, and some harkens back childhood or adolescent memories; this album, Belly’s first album Star, throws me back into an actual place in time, from 1993, and a street I once lived on, Wilshire Avenue. Two places really, this album brings back to me, both my second-floor apartment in the 1920’s building that I loved more than any place I would ever live again, and the coffee shop my friends and I hung out at all the time, The Winged Heart Cafe. It would be at that cafe that I would meet the father of two of my children, and where I would split from the father of my first child. I would meet friends that would stay with me through times of happiness, and times of sorrow, and I would have some of the best conversations about books and films, and of course, music.
This album was always around during this time, whether being played out of my over-sized speakers in my living room, or at night in the kitchen of the cafe (it always seemed to be playing when I was hanging out there after closing). My oldest was a small child then, usually accompanying me in a stroller, falling asleep to the songs while I drank coffee, or hot Thai tea. Hearing this album now makes me a bit nostalgic for that time in my life, and fills my heart up with reflective smiles from a time gone by that impacted the woman I am today so very much.
This week’s My Favorite Album is Belly’s Star album, and I will share my three-sentence song-by-song reactions on why it is on the list. I hope you give the songs a listen, and consider adding it to your album collection, and that you enjoy.
Someone to Die For
A stark and subtle start, quiet sounding, yet strong on the emotions served up. At the time this song reminded me of a girl I had just met that had me mesmerized, and a little bit frightened. She was always asking the big questions, like who would you die for, and whose hand would you want to hold if the world was about to go up in flames.
The start of this song reminds me of a later Belly song that I also love, Super-Connected, and also is reminiscent of Tanya Donelly’s earlier work with Throwing Muses (especially the Real Ramona album). This has a power-pop sensibility to it mixed-up and melded with an unmistakable sensuality. This was always a song that I felt, and feel, belongs on a “to make-out to” playlist.
Oh my stars, that bass line at the start is seductive and enthralling, is it not? I am pretty sure I did make-out to this song more than once, both on the hardwood floors of that old apartment, and in the back patio area of the cafe. This song calls to mind the smell of clove cigarettes and the taste of cherry lip balm on my lips.
I sat and watched so many young musicians strumming on pawn shop acoustic guitars, watching with longing to both be near them, and to learn how to play myself. I unfortunately (okay, sometimes fortunately) only managed the first desire, though, I suppose, it is never too late to learn to play guitar. I did get to help write a few songs back in those days with some of those guitarists, though.
Julia was about three years old during this time and she was enamored with Disney films. Of all the ones she loved my least favorite was Pinocchio, due to its negative portrayal of creative expression, and its heavy-handed conscience as guilt message. I did love this song, though (still do) and would sometimes sing it to myself, in my head, when she watched our VHS copy of Pinocchio.
I used to write letters to pen pals across the world found in the back of the free press. This was before the internet entered my life, and I was in love with the idea of communicated in such a wide-reaching way. One of my pen pals wrote out the lyrics to this song in one of his letters in blood red ink, and I found it so beautiful.
We would watch MTV together, sitting next to each other, cross-legged on the hardwood floor. After we grew tired of the music videos we would watch episodes of Twin Peaks, or movies like Wild at Heart, discussing them over too many cups of coffee and smoked cigarettes. This is one of those videos I remember so vividly from those nights of us together when we were first getting to know each other.
Full Moon, Empty Heart
One of my top five favorite Belly songs ever. I sang this while you played the song on guitar, and I kept thinking how much I wanted to kiss you. When we were together, for real, later, and then married, much later than that, I would forget how much we used to love to do things like that (it is far too easy to forget such things when day-to-day life comes in and takes over).
This song reminds me of slow dancing, barefoot, in my living room way past late at night. It was the three of us that night, and we had had too much of so many things. This would be one of our secret memories we would keep to ourselves, only taking out to share with each other, years later.
The girl with all the big questions would do these outrageous things to get my attention. She would steal my diaries and leave me notes in the margins, she would write me letters about how her friends thought we should be lovers, and she would wait for me on my front stoop with just cried tears in her eyes. She was one of the hardest people to love that I would ever know, but I loved her deeply, regardless.
Someday I would like to make a playlist of songs that are named the same as the album they come from. This song would definitely be among the collection as it is one of my favorite songs with their album name. There is such a vulnerability in the vocals of this song, such a feeling of a flawed sense of beauty.
On the night we broke up I was wearing a dress of black crushed velvet. The first words from his mouth were that he wished I was wearing the red one that he had picked out, the one that matched my lipstick choices and showed off the paleness of my skin. After I said the words that I could no longer do this with him, not anymore, I wondered if it mattered what I was wearing, to him, anymore.
My very favorite Belly song. A song I played over the phone lines late at night while we fell in love from a long-distance. I should have given myself more time between breaking-up and falling in love again, but I was only twenty-six and I really knew so very little about love.