Hartbreaker (With Her Forty-Four)


Turns out Beth Hart’s “L.A. Song” is not merely one more antishowbiz rant from a tender-tough broadski. (Janis left ’em here to sing this song, from Maggie Bell and Genya Ravan down thru Kim Carnes’s Morning After tonsils on every Disease of the Week made-for-TV movie ever rerun on Lifetime, the Anxiety Channel.) No, it’s all of that and more: “She got a gun she calls the Lucky One,” but no cathartically hard target materializes; she leaves El Lay for a small town, meets “a man who takes her in,” but feeds her the same ol’ “bullsshhitt” (she goes from weariness to almost a hissing relish of indictment, tho without excess nerves consumed thereby): “And he lied and he lied and he lied, like a salesman, selling flies” (eeewwww…).

So she sings again, like she did in L.A., “Man I gotta get out of this town,” which of course means going back to L.A.—which she does as the song “ends.” For her, everywhere is and has been L.A.’d. Maybe for us, too—she sounds pretty convincing, young and earnest, not so much sentimental as still capable of hoping for something better (without actually blowing or rasping your ears out, but also without trying to seem younger or more delicately vulnerable than she actually is). (Though the album’s called Screaming for My Supper.) She sounds very scared as she announces what she’s gonna do.

Beth knows (or at least shows) that whether you try and you try and you try (like the woman in the song, who also “took and she took and she took and she gave,” but apparently not as much as she took, not in L.A.) or not, you might find that you get what you need. Or anyway, that you get what you get. She’s destiny’s child; she fights authority, authority always wins—so far. And as far as the sudden (Live! Creed! Melissa!) boom in Fervor-Merchants goes (not that I’m complaining, better Fervor than Whinesellers or Burpfart Pop, like we been getting so much of otherwise), she’s the one who gets to me, who doesn’t sound a little ambient.