I have no real interest in directing music videos. Never have had. But if Amanda Palmer came calling, I’d direct anything she wanted free of charge. You love Amanda Palmer too, even if you don’t realise it yet.
The original idea of this post was that I would write a load of semi-eloquent prose explaining my current fascination and enthusiasm for Amanda Palmer. But the last few days have seen me struggling to articulate exactly what it is about the woman and her work that I like so much (an encouraging state of affairs for a professional writer!). I trawled articles, blog posts, video clips and listened to her albums and it finally occurred to me that perhaps the best way to present the subject would be through an aggregation (how very web 2.0) of those.
This post, then, is a kind of mash-up of the best and most interesting bits of Amanda Palmer’s songs, videos, interviews and performances. If you haven’t come across her before, this is a pretty solid introduction. I hope it inspires you to delve further.
If you know Amanda Palmer’s work, I hope you can at least find something here you haven’t seen or heard before or that you’ll just enjoy seeing it again!
The biographical details of Amanda Palmer’s life are very well documented by Wikipedia so, with your kind permission, I have excerpted these wholesale and intercut them with video clips and some thoughts of my own. You’ll get the most out of this post if you take the time to watch the video clips as they crop up….
“And who needs love, when the sandwiches are wicked and they know you at the Mac store”
WHO THE FUCK IS AMANDA PALMER?
One half of Brechtian punk-cabaret band The Dresden Dolls, Amanda’s recently been touring her solo album “Who Killed Amanda Palmer” (produced by Ben Folds). She’s a prolific blogger and twitterer and she’s about to release a coffee table book of photographs to accompany her album, the text for which has been written by none other than Neil Gaiman, who also crops up now and again on stage with her and reads prose pieces in between songs.
The world is crowded with very good musicians who have nothing to say and people who do have something to say but lack the talent to back it up. Amanda Palmer is the best of both worlds; brave, outspoken and talented…
A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY…
“Palmer grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts. She attended Lexington High School, where she was heavily involved in the drama department, and received her B.A. from Wesleyan University. She worked for some time at an ice cream shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Toscanini’s. She staged performances based on work by the Legendary Pink Dots, an early influence, and was involved in the Legendary Pink Dots electronic mailing list, Cloud Zero. She then formed the Shadowbox Collective, devoted to putting on theatrical shows (such as the 2002 play, Hotel Blanc, which she directed) and street theatre, and busked as a living statue called “The Eight Foot Bride” in Harvard Square as well as in many other locations.” (Wikipedia)
THE DRESDEN DOLLS
“In October 2000, Palmer met drummer Brian Viglione and together they formed the Dresden Dolls. In an effort to expand the performance experience and interactivity, Palmer began inviting Lexington High School students to perform drama pieces at her live shows. Currently, the Dirty Business Brigade, a troupe of seasoned and new artists, perform at many gigs. The invited costumed characters mingle with the crowd before and during the show, and veteran groups sometimes join in with a choreographed stage act. Life-sized marionettes, coin-operated boys, living statues, and other undergroundlings greet fans while circus and burlesque draw the audience into the Dolls’ music, creating a participatory atmosphere that allows the audience to experience numerous types of art simultaneously.” (Wikipedia)
WHO KILLED AMANDA PALMER?
Amanda’s solo album “Who Killed Amanda Palmer?” was released on 16 September 2008. It was produced by Ben Folds, who also plays on the album. Beg, borrow or steal a copy. To accompany the album, Michael Pope directed a series of thematically-related videos. I’ve embedded them all together below (move your mouse over the player to switch between them).
One of the recurring topics on Amanda Palmer’s blog concerns her disagreements with her record company, Roadrunner Records. Upon seeing the video for “Leeds United” (above) the record company requested that Amanda have shots of her “uncommercially fat” belly removed from the clip. (According to her blog, the exec in question said “I’m a guy, Amanda, I understand what people like”!)
In addition to this, the British music channels refused to screen the video for “Oasis” on the grounds that it was “making light of rape, religion and abortion”. The text of Amanda’s response is here. Meanwhile, here’s the video in question:
The ongoing battle with Roadrunner culminated recently in this impromptu live performance:
MORE AMANDA PALMER…
The Dresden Dolls’ albums; “Dresden Dolls”, “Yes, Virginia” and “No, Virginia” are all available on iTunes and Amazon.
“Who Killed Amanda Palmer” is a brilliant piece of work and is also available on iTunes and pretty much everywhere else.
To see more of the videos and a load of live stuff, visit Amanda’s YouTube channel
Amanda’s blog is Amanda fucking Palmer
She is also on Twitter
I leave you, finally, with one of my favourite AP clips; a ukelele cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”, performed at this year’s SXSW for a queue of people who were waiting in line for a panel Amanda was appearing on. Quincy Jones was over-running, so AP decided to entertain…
(If you want to see the same song performed in the back of a cab(!) click here)