The facts are these: During their series of variety shows billed as An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer (covered here in the next day or so) it was close to Neil Gaiman’s birthday. Being a massive Lou Reed fan, Palmer decided to gift Gaiman a series of cover songs by either Reed or The Velvet Underground, one each night Chanukah style. And if you were one of the people like me who pre-ordered the multi-disc set of the shows, you got as a bonus disc Several Attempts To Cover Songs By The Velvet Underground & Lou Reed For Neil Gaiman As His Birthday Approaches by the one and only Amanda Fucking Palmer.
I’m not going to pretend that the covers are anything revelatory; they are instead exactly as I think Palmer intended: a document of a special moment in her and Gaiman’s life, and the fun and love that comes across their banter and the manner in which she performs the songs makes it something warm and inviting and open, and although I rarely listen to it nowadays, hearing it again now as I write this that connection Palmer excels at comes roaring through again. There are one or two non-Reed covers, but the whole effect is one of a light fun and revelry.
I can’t pretend there’s not a lot of controversy over Palmer and her manner of internet wrangling, but I also can’t pretend to care. I came to her music at a particularly painful time in my life, and her method of complete openness when it came to her art, her life, and her process instantly took me; it also doesn’t hurt that overall I’m also simply a fan of her music. Neil Gaiman has been one of the most important writers in my life, coming at that fragile age when I was just starting college and unsure of the world and went to a local comic shop and saw Sandman for the first time and fell hard into that universe. But Palmer came later (came, in fact, by way of Gaiman when I heard he wrote a series of vignettes for her album Who Killed Amanda Palmer), and similar to Gaiman found the hole in my life at that time and offered something to fill it with. Whether it was her music or her book The Art of Asking (which got me to open up about my depression to my friends and boss and ask for help), it was something that got me to go on a little further and find new avenues in myself.
It’s something I still look for when I need it.