Dear Sir

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Dear Sir
Studio album by Cat Power
Released October 1995
July 3, 2001 (re-release)
Recorded December 1994 at Mott Street space, New York City, New York
Genre Indie rock, lo-fi, experimental
Label Runt, Plain Recordings
Producer Ed Douglas
Cat Power chronology
Dear Sir
(1995)
Myra Lee
(1996)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars [1]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars [2]

Dear Sir is the debut album by American singer/songwriter Chan Marshall, also known as Cat Power, released in October 1995 on Runt Records.

It was re-issued by Plain Recordings in 2001, with an alternate recording of the song "Great Expectations" as the eighth track.

Recording and production[edit]

Marshall recorded Dear Sir in December 1994 in a small basement studio near Mott Street in New York City at the same time she recorded Myra Lee (1996), which was released nearly two years later, with guitarist Tim Foljahn and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley; Marshall and Shelley had initially met after she played a show opening for Liz Phair in 1993.[3] A total of 20 songs were recorded in a single day by the trio, all of which were split into two records, making up Dear Sir and Myra Lee.[4]

According to Foljahn, the recording session was "mellow" and "quick", and he referred to their recording space— purportedly a moist basement lined with musical equipment and empty beer cans— as "literally the third subbasement. It was so New York".[4] Contrarily, Marshall described the recording session as "anxiety-ridden".[4] "Most of the time Steve and Tim ended up looking at each other like, "What do we do"?" said Marshall. "I wasn't sure what to tell them since I had never really written songs with a band in mind."[4]

Although Dear Sir is considered Marshall's debut album, she expressed herself in a 1996 interview that she considered it an EP.[3] The original 1995 release of the album by Runt Records featured a total of only eight tracks; however, the 2001 re-issue by Plain Recordings featured the addition of the song "Great Expectations", giving the album a total of nine tracks (note that another version of the song "Great Expectations" is also featured on Cat Power's second album, Myra Lee). Both versions of Dear Sir end with the song "Headlights", which is a re-recording of an early song by Marshall's first backing band, and had priorly been released as a 7" single in 1993.

Cover art[edit]

The cover artwork for the album features a man's torso with apparent stream of consciousness prose superimposed over it. The text reads:

dear CAT POWER sir i have heaviness with a dr. molkner sir it's rabbit stew with you it's you it's you sir we've got the rabbit stew this time - and i'm in you i'm in you sir with a heavy line a very fine line indeed mr. wolfe it's heavy -- stew it's heavy stroot like it it's god i would like you to meet and marry and have many smaller ones with my cousin pete you're a lot alike believe it about mr. warner tell him to change the stuff fuck this shit i'm hit that's bobby clayton for ya that's bobby please come to dinner some nite with molkner we're having rabbit stew call pete say hello and eat him then put him into a rabbit with bobby molkner and eat him raw with dr. molkner dr. molkner's no joke - he's heavy like me we've got heaviness with a doctor it's doctortorial molk's no joke love ya sissy ass candy person CAT POWER sir --

According to Marshall, the text came from a letter given to her friend by a mentally ill elderly man who lived in the same hotel as she did:

"My friend Jennifer used to live in the hotel and there was this old man and I guess he was crazy and nobody wanted to say hello to him and she would always say hello to him and you know, kind of took a liking to him. One day, she saw him being taken away by the proverbial white coat, as one might say. He was really sad and reached into his pocket and gave her the note before they took him away. It was three rectangular pieces of paper taped together that were very dated, and the paper was very dated, disintegrating..."[3]

Marshall said that she added in her band name, Cat Power, but the rest of the text was lifted entirely from the letter. "It said everything that was there. It may have been in Savannah, actually. It's sort of in memory of him. Like, where is he now? If that was written to him, then does that mean that he was gay?"[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Cat Power, except where noted.

1995 release
No. Title Length
1. "3 Times"   4:13
2. "Rockets"   4:43
3. "Itchyhead"   2:44
4. "Yesterday Is Here" (Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan) 3:34
5. "The Sleepwalker" (Chris Matthews) 4:02
6. "Mr. Gallo"   3:19
7. "No Matter" (instrumental) 1:02
8. "Headlights"   4:03
Total length:
27:40

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dear Sir at AllMusic
  2. ^ Rolling Stone review
  3. ^ a b c d Stacey, Dave; Marshall, Chan (Summer 1996). "Cat Power Interview". Mommy & I Are One (4). Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d Goodman, Elizabeth. Cat Power: A Good Woman. Three Rivers Press. pp. 132–35. ISBN 978-0-307-39636-5. 

Matador Records Interview of Cat Power