Rid of Me (live) :: PJ Harvey
from the Big Day Out Festival, in 2001
originally from the album, Rid of Me
Rid of Me is the first song, and title track, from the second studio album by British musician PJ Harvey. It was released by Island Records in May 1993, approximately one year after the release of her critically acclaimed debut album Dry. It marked a departure from Harvey’s previous songwriting, being more raw and aggressive than its predecessor.
All the songs on Rid of Me were performed by Harvey’s eponymous trio, consisting of Harvey on guitar and vocals, Rob Ellis on drums and background vocals, and Steve Vaughan on bass. It was the last album they recorded as a group before disbanding in late 1993. Most of the songs on the album were recorded by Steve Albini. Rid of Me was met with acclaim by critics. It has been ranked at number 405 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
The album’s lyrics have been widely interpreted as being feminist in nature. Harvey, however, repeatedly denied a feminist agenda in her songwriting, stating “I don’t even think of myself as being female half the time. When I’m writing songs I never write with gender in mind. I write about people’s relationships to each other. I’m fascinated with things that might be considered repulsive or embarrassing. I like feeling unsettled, unsure.”
Some of the lyrics were inspired by her personal experiences. The title track, for instance, was admittedly influenced by one of Harvey’s relationships coming to an end. When told by an interviewer that Rid of Me sounded psychotic, she replied that she wrote the song “at my illest” and added “I was almost psychotic” at the time.
PJ told Spin magazing, “When I wrote Rid of Me, I shocked myself. I thought, ‘Well, if I’m shocked, other people might be shocked.” She continued, saying, “the sound of the words was powerful, and the rhythm felt clean and simple to roll off the tongue. I knew that this was the type of song I was trying to write.”
Editor’s Note: This is not a psychotic song to me, but a cathartic one. One of those scream-sing at the top of my lungs kind of song. We all need that kind of release sometimes, don’t we? As someone who is recovering from vocal surgery, and had to just spend ten days in silence, I know I need that release something fierce.