by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Not Louis, by Harry Kerr

Anna McGarrigle & Audrey Bean - "Louis the Cat". I am not going to write a story about this song; everything important about the song is contained within its two minutes and sixteen seconds. It was recorded by two friends in the early 1970s. They were in a living-room. There was a piano. And Louis the cat had disappeared.

I was born in 1982. As a kid we would drive through Algonquin Park at night and my mother would put on a cassette of Kate & Anna McGarrigle's songs, and I'd squirm, I'm not now sure why; something too-tightly blossoming in their blending voices. And now, as an adult, I hear their songs and cherish them but it evokes a long-ago, perhaps my childhood or perhaps a lamp-lit decade, a strange 1970s, a time I never knew.

Listening to "Louis the Cat", I have a very different feeling. It's not the same as when I hear "Work Song", "La vâche qui pleure", or "Heart Like A Wheel". This is not something that has been passed down to me: a poem, a photograph, a stuttering black & white film. Here, I hear two friends my own age. They are in a living-room. There is a piano. Louis the cat has disappeared.

This is a song that could be sung by people I see every day. And if it were, I would listen quietly and think in my heart: what a beautiful song. I would wonder where Louis was, and how lucky he was to have had these two. I would think of the time we had all had dinner together, spontaneously, calling & finding everyone home and idle; and how we had trudged through the snow to their door and there had been soup and fresh bread, red wine and rhubarb pie; and how Louis had wound between our legs before scampering away.

This is a song that could be sung right this instant, by two girls lying on the hardwood floor and singing at the ceiling.

Anyway, I like it a lot.

ODDiTTiES is the first McGarrigles release since the passing of Kate last year. It is a collection of unreleased tracks, including "A la claire fontaine (live)", and an alternate version of the famous "Logdriver's Waltz". And this. It is available exclusively on iTunes.

Kate is dearly missed.

[This is a photograph by Harry Kerr of Henry Behrens, the smallest man in the world ca 1956, dancing with his pet cat.]

Posted by Sean at September 27, 2010 12:24 AM

Great posts lately Sean! Sharon Van Etten is a force and this track is really wonderful!

Posted by Ben at September 27, 2010 1:09 AM


Posted by susan at September 27, 2010 4:20 PM

Thanks for letting us know about ODDiTiES-- what great, unexpected new. Can't wait to hear it. Thanks too for "Louis the Cat"; never heard it before. Kate *is* sorely missed...

Posted by Jeremy at September 27, 2010 7:15 PM

love this track ! thx for this wonderful blog, always a pleasure discovering the song of the day !

Posted by Le Cowboy at November 4, 2010 9:09 AM

oh yes, this is exactly how I feel about kate and anna mcgarrigle. and it was kate's passing that got me back into listening to all of it, learning to love it in my own right not just for its familiarity.

Posted by meredith at November 30, 2010 12:21 AM

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This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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