Fireflies at Disneyland

Neko Case

Neko Case

When it came out, like a lot of people, I  fell in love with Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. It has that feel of originality that albums back in the late 60s and early 70s had: when it seemed to be easier to record things that sounded utterly unique and new. Plus she has that voice like the wind in the Rockies, as Garth Hudson put it. She can write and sing like few other women, and, as it turns out,  she can talk, too. She’s friendly and funny, in the conversation she had with The Nerdist about a month ago. Not just witty, but quick and completely, unguardedly open about how she responds to people and things. She’ll say absolutely anything that crosses her mind. Yet she can also pull back and offer small, unexpected and seemingly innocuous observations that would hardly register with most people. At the end, the conversation goes this way about when she was a little girl and visited Disneyland:

You know what the most amazing thing about Disneyland is? (This influences the rest of my life. I still think about it.) Waiting in the line for Pirates of the Caribbean there are these cat tails in between you and the restaurant. And they had these fake fireflies that would light up. I don’t know if they’re still there. And I just remember being, like, that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. If I could explain to anyone my entire artistic aesthetic, that’s it right there. You made me fireflies, Walt Disney, so that when I was waiting to eat that disgusting burger in there I would have these fireflies.

Now, this is not the persona she projects in most of her music, but it’s the person who’s actually there in those songs. Add Christmas tree lights to the fireflies and that pretty much sums it up for me, as a painter. I think of my parents the way Neko Case thought of Walt Disney: they gave me fireflies and Christmas tree lights in East St. Louis so I had something to look at while I was waiting for the rest of our lives to happen. Fireflies in a jar . . .

Favorite song on her new album: “Calling Cards.” (She also talks about touring with nice-guy and funny man Nick Cave, and speculates about lathes in a way that would cause Ron Swanson’s brain to seize up on a number of levels.)

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