Album Challenge Day 4: John Grant’s “Pale Green Ghosts”

John Grant Pale Green Ghosts

My fourth choice for the album challenge has me jumping forward in time, but spotlighting a hugely impactful album, John Grant’s “Pale Green Ghosts”. This was a tough one since I absolutely adore “Queen of Denmark” but the follow-up “Pale Green Ghosts” contains some of Grant’s very best songs plus shows his eclectic nature, spotlighting not only his contrasting musical interests but his lyrics that veer from wallowing sadness to laugh out loud comedy. And what a grand voice!

The title song opens the album, immediately breaking with the previous album’s honeyed California sound, using insinuating electronic bleets, painting a haunting picture of growing up in the Midwest (I assume, but I’m never great at interpreting lyrics). “GMF” stands for Greatest Mother Fucker and is both hilarious and a great sing-along. And then there are songs addressing the same guy he obsessed about in “Queen of Denmark” (they apparently went out for only six months, but took years for Grant to get over). The album ends with “Glacier”, a transcendent and transfixing song that is better not described. There was no video made, but here’s the audio. Beautiful!

Grant’s got a fascinating bio, having had a career with The Czars before losing it all to drugs and alcohol, then making a miraculous resurrection after getting cleaned up and returning as a solo artist with “Queen of Denmark” while also dealing with being HIV-positive. Beyond the drama, he has a huge talent for languages and currently lives in Iceland (we went to Reykjavik to stalk him), loves his 80s music (yay Icehouse!) and is a great interview; much more will be revealed in a book he’s contracted to write about his life. We’ve seen him live four times and had tickets to see him again two weeks from now in London, but of course, that’s been called off and we’re home, but we can listen to his records and watch his videos and wait for the day we can see him live again.

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