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10/15/00 (originally posted 8/1/00):  
From: XM Warren 
Subject: I gave Shirley Simms a sex change.

OK, so I couldn't sleep last night.

Early this morning I was working on a song on my computer when I realized that I'd never really experimented with using a pitch shifter on vocals.  So I pulled up "Kiss Me Like You Mean It" and ran it through, lowering the pitch by a step-and-a-half but keeping it at its original tempo and length--I was thinking about John Oswald's "Pretender" in which Dolly Parton is given a sex change and then sings a duet with him/herself. The result for Simms was a nice "high lonesome"-type tenor voice.  I've played it for a couple of people who genuinely think that the new singer is a man. Of course I like Shirley Simms' version quite a bit but I've wanted to hear a recording of the song sung by a man for the longest time.  Thanks to modern tech, I get my wish.

So I decided to try out a couple of other songs and a few other degrees of shifting (what the hell, I couldn't sleep anyway & I could read while the computer did all the work).

I ran "Josephine" through the same process, which gave Susan Anway's voice the tone color of a GORGEOUS African-American woman's voice.  I can't stop listening to it.

It doesn't work as well for men's voices, though oddly enough if you pitch shift Stephin Merritt up a minor third he sounds a little bit like ld.  I tried to shift SM up into a woman's vocal range but the results were just silly. He turned into a chain-smoking chipmunk.  No go.  

Then I kind of got bored with it, ate a big meal, read some more and fell asleep.

9/26/00 (originally posted 11/22/99):  
From: ld beghtol 
Subject: the lover speaks 

hey ya'll: 

i asked stephin about "papa was a rodeo" and this is what he said: 

"Papa Was a Rodeo," as should be explained in the box set book, is (in my mind) sung by a man, who resembles a Lee Hazelwood character, to a woman named Mike, as Nancy Sinatra's character was called in "Wild Angels." It is thus explicitly a Lee & Nancy tribute, with an actual lyric reference, however roundabout, which is more than I usually do. If Stereolab did story songs, that's what their references would look like too.The trucker's hand refers to truckstop sex of the most banal kind. The couple stays together for fifty-five years, and their vocation (by implication, the original vocation of the narrator) is that of itinerant alligator wrestlers. The song is heterosexual, with homosexual tease because until Shirley sings you don't know Mike is a woman. 

8/20/00 (originally posted 7/31/00):  
From: Alastair Thompson    
My Mary Lou Lord / Magnetic Fields Story:  

(Apologies if it's incoherent: I'm rather tipsy)  

I saw her at Park Street Station, one fine Saturday evening several months ago, strumming and singing for change. She did two 69LS covers in a row, and since I didn't yet know her by sight I was terribly, terribly impressed and surprised that some random buskatrix was so talented and had such good taste; I ran over to the other platform to toss my dollar in the kitty. She sang "I don't want to get over you" terrifically, calling it 'my new favorite song', und so weiter. Beam, beam, beam, said I. Then she launched into "When my boy...", substituting (o rage! o desespoir!), "...& I'm going to be his wife...".  

So I narrowed my eyes at her in a semi-involuntary manner indicating displeasure, which, I seem to recall, she registered. [Ms. Lord, if you're out there, *please* understand it wasn't personal!]  

A week or so passed; I heard her do the same song with the right words. Though I am, of course, too old to believe in the Causation Fairy, I'd like to think there's an at-least-thematic link.  

The moral of this story is to misremember events in one's life such that one gets to be the hero. Self-delusive, verily, but it ultimately saves in therapy bills. 


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