Thursday, June 19, 2008

Viva Regina.

Hotels. Pickles. Stretchmarks. These are just three things that inspire Regina Spektor, the Russian-American musician who writes, sings, plays the piano, plays the guitar and is an all-round entertainer and artist of the highest calibre. I was reading through an issue of my school’s magazine from over a year ago, in which there was an article about the author’s favourite Regina Spektor songs, so I thought I’d do the same!

Born in Moscow on February 18th, her parents instilled a musical sense into her from an early age. Her dad, Ilya Spektor, was an amateur violinist, and her mum was a music teacher. She practiced the piano on a Petrof that was passed down from her granddad. Unfortunately, when her family emigrated from the USSR due to discrimination against the Jewish, the piano was left behind. No problem for Regina – she practiced the fingerings on windowsills until her family could afford to buy her another. And it’s a ruddy good thing she did, because she’s blossomed into one of the best artists around; her songs are deep, poetic, funny, sad, and have some of the most original lyrics I’ve ever heard.

So here are my top 10 Regina Spektor songs:
10. Pavlov’s Daughter
The grave diggers getting stuck in the machine
picking getting slim, slimmer
I hear them say my name
regin-ah, regin-ah, regin-a-ah

Absolutely adore this song, it’s one of the strangest I’ve heard, and definitely one of Regina’s most sinister. Word of warning, though, play it loud, and, getting to the “regin-a-ah” bit sounds a bit like a woman having an orgasm.

09. Buildings
Sifts through its sift
Just sifts through its sift
Oh, Oh ooooo
Sifts through its sift
Just sifts through its sift

Like most Regina Spektor songs, a really tricky one to interrupt. I think it could be about a couple in love, but the woman drifting away from the man through her depression.

08. Apres Moi
Be afraid of the lame, they'll inherit your legs
Be afraid of the old, they'll inherit your souls
Be afraid of the cold, they'll inherit your blood
Apres moi le deluge, after me comes the flood

She sings a bit of Russian in this one!

07. Poor Little Rich Boy
Poor little rich boy, all the world is okay
The water runs off your skin and down into the drain
You’re reading Fitzgerald, you’re reading Hemmingway
They’re both super smart and drinking in the caf├ęs

Always reminds me a bit of The Catcher in the Rye, for some reason.

06. Oedipus
I'm the king's thirty second son
Born to him in thirty second's time
Born to him the night still young
Born to him with two eyebrows on
And that's all I was wearing
When I woke up staring at the world

One of Regina’s most vocally strong songs, this, like Samson, alludes to a well-known story – here, of Oedipus Rex, and builds a truly powerful song from a myth. One to make you sit up and think.

05. Chelsea Hotel #2
I don't mean to suggest that I loved you the best,
I can't keep track of each fallen robin.
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel,
that's all, I don't even think of you that often.

This is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel, and Regina sings it so, so well. His poetry + her voice = Heaven.

04. Real Love
Don't need to be alone
No need to be alone
It's real love
Yes, it's real love
Oh, it's real love
Yes, it's real love

Another cover, this time, of John Lennon. Regina’s voice & piano playing in this song are just sublime, she captures the emotional lines perfectly.

03. Braille
Elvis never could carry a tune
and she thought about this irony as she stared back at the moon
She was tracing her years with her fingers on her skin saying,
Well, why don't I begin again

My choice for Regina Spektor’s most haunting song, Braille takes us through the life of a financially struggling single mother and her son named Elvis. The piano-playing in the intro is brilliant here, I still get shivers every time I hear it.

02. Love Affair
There was a love affair in this building,
The kind of love affair that every respectable building must, keep as a legend.

This song demonstrates that Regina is not so much a songwriter as a storyteller too. Here, it is a fairly simple story of a man and woman in a building who meet and have a love affair. Listen to Regina’s warble on the line “mothers prefer doctors and law-aw-ars.” Incredible.

01. Samson

I loved you first, I loved you first.

Beneath these sheets of paper lies my truth.

Quite simply, the most beautiful song every written. I’m one of the few who prefer the faster version of this, but the lyrics that run through both are so beautiful, it breaks my heart. I connect with it completely, and I think everyone who’s ever felt love towards someone or something, and lost it, will do so too.

Samson, set to some clips from Brokeback Mountain. Omg, so beautiful.

So. What are your favourite Regina Spektor songs?


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


My favorites from her are: Baobabs, Buildings, Chemo Limo

Kayleigh said...

Once in English we were told to write a story based on a song lyric and I chose the first 2 lines of Samson. It wasn't a bad effort if I do say so myself.

Emma said...

Kayleigh, share the rest of the song you wrote! (if you want to.)

Catherine said...

Tori Amos > Regina Spektor.

Sorry. It had to be said. :p

Although, I do LOVE Oedipus.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, if you like Regina, try to get a Tori Amos CD. She's an angrier, hipper version of Regina.

Anonymous said...

I know it was all 'mainstream' and whatnot, but it's beautiful :)
and Samson.

Marcy said...

I couldn't stop listening to "Better."

anahit said...

samson. I'm not really a huge fan of regina at all, and her voice gets on my nerves sometimes...but Samson is just so beautiful, and I can't stop singing it xxx

Robert said...

I lurve Regina.

All the songs you list are fab, but Chemo Limo is one of the best if you ask me.

Also she is gorgeous.

That is all.

Emma said...

There was a Tori Amos CD in my charity shop for about £2.99, I think. Maybe I'll get it and have a listen.

Anonymous said...

For getting into Tori Amos, Emz, I'd recommend Winter. It's seriously good.