Beth Hart In All Her Splendor

“Love is the baddest blues that I know”

One night last winter (the winter of my discontent?) I was adhered to my couch, bored and catatonic. Some dear friends had gathered around me: cup of coffee, a pack of Pall Malls, an ashtray and the television, its glow bringing the only light into the comfortable darkness of my living room.

I started flipping the channels, maybe I could stumble upon a nature documentary, a true-crime program or anything British. The only thing I knew with certainty was that I wasn’t going to indulge in any reality television. Teen Mom, Storage Wars, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Duck Dynasty, Pawn Stars, the list is endless. Reality television is the bane of my existence, an affront to my relentless pursuit of culture and my thirst for learning.

As I continue my flipping, I finally land on the Palladia channel. It’s a music channel that shows concerts, videos and musical collaborations and whatnot. Its what MTV used to be but with a slightly hipper edge. I settled on Later With Jools Holland. Its basic premise: one large stage, a small audience and multiple bands/artists from varying genres taking their turn in the spotlight. It’s intimate, inviting and I love the concept. On a single stage you might encounter an Indie band, a metal band, a blues singer, some country twang, maybe some new age or pop-rock. It has something for everybody. Just some good bands doing their thing and doing it well.

On this particular night, I don’t recall every band that performed but I most certainly remember one artist: Beth Hart. My first impression of her was that she attractive but in a hard way. She looked as though life had dealt a few blows along the way. I was instantly smitten. Then she sang. She sang her ass off.

I’m not well-versed on her background. I known she has battled drug/alcohol addiction. I know she’s a classically  trained pianist. I know she has dealt with mental illness, a bipolar disorder. She has had to endure  some struggles in her life. She was also able to overcome some of those struggles and use that as a catalyst for her music. Beth Hart bleeds on that microphone and she has reeled me in with her realness, her overwhelming passion.

The purpose of this post was to introduce people to the greatness of Beth Hart. The following three songs capture her spirit and all three have impacted me in a profound manner.

“If this is love what was I thinking, if this is love what the hell am I going to do” I challenge anyone to say that this lyric isn’t relatable. This is the first song I ever heard from her and i was rendered speechless. This song had to be pulled from her marrow, some dark place in her bones. And of course, she was right. Love is the baddest of blues.

“I’ve been desperate all these years” Haven’t we all to a certain degree? This song is deep, poignant and ultimately uplifting. Whether you’re trying to overcome a failed relationship or trying to break the chains of addiction, this song offers some catharsis. The concept of “setting me free” is truly inspiring and its a song of hope and the triumph of the human spirit.

“She left a note right by the phone, don’t leave a message cause this ain’t no home.”. Damn. Damn. If you have ever been somewhere that felt uncomfortable or you felt unwelcome and didn’t belong, this lyric and this song will impact you. This is my favorite song of hers and the first time I heard it my eyes watered-up. I knew exactly what she was singing about, it connected with me and it still does. That old adage about your problems follow you no matter where you go is obviously applicable here. “She met a man, he took her in and fed her all the same bullshit again” Different city, different man, same result. Maybe all of us need to head back to our own LA.

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6 thoughts on “Beth Hart In All Her Splendor

  1. Damn is right. This is the kinda musical post I was hoping for. Awesome, just awesome. Picked a great person to highlight because you’re right, she does have some roughness to her physical appearance and her voice, but hell if that doesn’t make her seem sexy. Love the Joplin-like raspy vocals at times, but more so, just, as you said, her “bleeding on the microphone.” She very obviously puts all her physical, mental and emotional being into her vocals and performance and I looooove that about artists. She kills it on the keyboard there.

    Not to say nothing of those lyrics. “I drank so hard the bottle ached,” was among my favorites in the “LA Song.” I haven’t had a chance to invest into the others or more of her work beyond what you’ve shared, but I love the vibe I’m getting. Grittiness is the best.

    Oh and yes, “anything British.”

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