In 1993, Beavis and Butthead was a new show on MTV, Conan O’Brien got his very own late night slot, and the feel-good movie of the year, Schindler’s List, was released. It was also the year we heard of a new singer/songwriter from Chicago named Liz Phair. She was ballsy, and her debut album Exile in Guyville was forwardly feminist, mocking of the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. and also of her position as a female in the music industry. She had attitude, and sang songs like “F— and Run” about being sick of one night stands.
Exile in Guyville is still on the top of “Best Albums Ever” lists everywhere, but Phair was never quite able to create an album as loved since. Her second (Whip-Smart) and third (whitechocolatespaceegg) were fan favorites, but not as well received by critics. After a short hiatus, she did the unthinkable in the judgmental land of indie rock — she hired the songwriting trio, The Matrix, and put out a major label self-titled album of radio ready songs like “Why Can’t I?” and “Extraordinary.” There was a Liz Phair backlash, and she’s been the poster child for being a sell out since the early 2000s.
But now Liz Phair is back on the radar in the best of ways – it’s the 15th anniversary of Exile in Guyville and Phair is reissuing the album complete with a “making-of” documentary DVD on June 24. She’s also playing the entire album live and acoustic in New York City on June 25, and is announcing similar dates in Chicago and San Francisco in the near future.
Phair-fans: get pumped. Isn’t this what we’ve been waiting for? As a child of the ‘90s, I nostalgically look back on the time when Phair was the queen of alternative rock and she reigned amongst the dudes of the Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. She was a more accessible version of riot grrrl that was more easily discovered at the time, which meant a lot to little girls like me living in the Midwest.
Liz, I forgive you for working with songwriters and recording a song that ended up playing on a commercial for a Hilary Duff movie — just please write another song like “Girls!Girls!Girls!”: “You been around enough to know / That if I want to leave you better let me go / … I get away almost every day / With what the girls call murder.”