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Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole
Martha Wainwright
Martha Wainwright
2005

I had a hard time with the cuss words when I was younger.  Hearing them made me instantly and intensely uncomfortable.  Saying them (even if it was just to myself, in my head) made me feel guilty.  Bad words were bad news. 

I remember my mom buckling me into the back seat of the car.  I must have been four--young enough to need to be buckled in, but old enough to know right from wrong.  My mom told me to scoot my bum back into the seat and I said, "Tina says it isn't called a bum, it's an ass."  My mom was not impressed.  This is a good example of Tina's influence on me when I was a kid, and my aversion to bad words in general.

Later, when I was in Grade 10 and reading a part for the school play, I choked out "bullshit" and "shit", my face turning beet red as I read Carol Shields's lines as they were written (later, when the play was performed, the cuss words were taken out).  Mr. Evans, the director, was very cool and casual about the words, noting that during rehearsals it was probably just easier for me to say them, but they made me stumble, awkward.

You would never know about my uncomfortable-with-swearing past, given the ease with which I swear now.  This may be attributed to repeated exposure--episodes of The Sopranos and Sex and the City, working in E-100, being a disgruntled Education student.  And music.  There was always something deeply satisfying about mouthing (snarling, shouting) the swear words in a song. 

Martha Wainwright's first album kills me.  I listened to it incessantly at a time when things were a little shaky.  It came out in Spring 2005, as I was studying for finals and prepping myself for the inevitability of life after graduation.  I had already decided that I was going to Europe in the fall.  Because I wasn't spending any money, I didn't buy Martha Wainwright's album when it came out and instead suggested that the library purchase it for its collection.

This album was so much a part of me at that time in my life, that I can't imagine not knowing it.  I knew Martha Wainwright at Rufus's younger sister.  That strange voice of hers would pop up occasionally on her brother's albums and she released "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" on a five-track EP of the same name.  I felt this instant connection to Martha Wainwright's music.  It was as if her lyrics echoed the thoughts that circled round and round in my grey, gloomy mind: "I am young and strong/But I feel old and tired."  Her voice is this ethereal thing that emerged from quiet, contemplative music.  This album fed my sadness, but also buoyed it.

I love the contrast between the words being said and the gentle folksiness of the music.  That quiet acoustic guitar opens "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" and then, as if out of nowhere, Martha Wainwright says, "Poetry is no place for a heart that's a whore" like a surprise punch in the stomach.  I love the urgency of "I wish, I wish, I wish", like a little kid with her eyes squeezed shut tight.  I like the gradual build to "You bloody mother fucking asshole", the way the words are transformed into something beautiful, loaded, melodic and heartbreaking--but, ultimately, freeing.

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