its in their eyes, its unspoken

enjoying to travel on an elegant journey of passionate trip hop soul,
martina topley bird
has never seemed to have any hesitation of inviting others to come along for the ride. in 2003, martina created her own solo album quixotic captivating listeners with her sweet sensual innocence that you may remember from her work with tricky.

a lil gift of martina’s acoustic radionova sessions were sent to musicisart the other day. raw, vacant and stripped to the barest essentials, bringing in southern twang, electric guitars, old time accordion and harmonica… it reminds me of sitting on the sidewalks of new orleans with strangers, feeling the cool warm air breezes of the mississippi and just taking it all in, listening.

martina topley bird // live, radionova, paris // 10.22.03

too tough to die
walkin’ to new orleans
stevie’s (day of the gun)
tennessee stud

::blessed are those who believe, who believe and have not seen::
martina topley bird :: too tough to die [hot to tape mix]
the twilight singers :: too tough to die [cover]

although it feels almost strange for me to wish to write and bring up a topic like the disaster of hurricane katrina. these last few days, remembering a year ago.. of floods and corruption, the ways people cared and didnt… the way everything is today, it overwhelms me. im not a victim of katrina but new orleans once was a place i ran away to and called home. maybe the music blog world isnt the place to bring my emotions as to who am i really? but if thousands of you come here a day, then please take a moment, take a break and remember.

six years ago, i decided i couldnt stand the suburban life south of boston, massachusetts anymore so i ordered myself a plane ticket that landed in new orleans. from the day i first arrived til the day i left, i lived off and on the streets. confidently, this is how everyone survived. you knew when you were a true resident when they stopped passing you a strand of mardi gras beads. stepping over cockroaches, melting into soup-like humidity, outsmarting the street hustlers, working on bourbon street, watching sex, drugs & rockn’roll as if it was just a way of life. at 18 years old, coming from a background of being scared and innocent to taking in everything new around me, somehow i wasn’t afraid anymore. from all that i was able to comprehend, i went from weak to feeling strong like i could do absolutely anything.

from every street corner, the strippers, dealers, musicians, fortune tellers, runaways, bartenders and street artists all promised to keep watch over me. i even had my own pair of real guardian angels that protected and looked after me. whether you were rich or poor didnt matter and deep inside, as long as you smiled, made eye contact and treated one another with a sense of respect, it felt proud to be experiencing an existence without the help of anything materialistic. it was all just based on being a decent human being.

new orleans was my first heartbreak. the lace balconies. the purple sky. the tree of life. the streetcars. the shim sham club. the garden district. magazine street. the mississippi river. sitting inside the community coffee shop, people watching, i truly realized how lucky i was. even though it was one of the hardest times of my life, i still remember and will never forget all the lil details that made it beautiful.

~*~ images by the la times

7 Responses

  1. dirtybird

    As a Mississippian who spent most of her young life in and out of the city of New Orleans, this was a very sweet and true portait of her. She is eternally wicked and quaint, tough and lovely, loud and subtle. Thank you for your memories of her.

  2. Squashed

    I for one am not in thankfull and hopefull mood yet. They ought to burn in hell etrnally for what they fail to do in New Orleans.

  3. Matt

    thank you for the beautiful words and pictures. i won’t forget even though i am thousands of miles away.

  4. rachel

    that was… that was gorgeous. and the music, the music fit perfectly. thank you for introducing Martina Topley-Bird, she’s got an amazingly lovely voice.

    i think the track ’04 Stevie’s // Day of the Gun (live)’ might be cut off at the end though.

  5. merz

    that was beautifully written & thanks for sharing that!
    It is hard to believe a year has passed, let’s hope the rebuilding can continue and New Orleans can return close to what it was…