Author Topic: Eliza  (Read 1222 times)

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twobreaths

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Eliza
« on: March 02, 2014, 08:00:19 AM »
I recently watched the film version of Pygmalion and couldn't help but think of Eliza relating to Eliza Doolittle, the way they both contain themes about transformation into someone else. Maybe it's just a coincidence though because of the time where Anna said that she didn't mean it as a reference. Has anyone else seen/watched Shaw's Pygmalion?

Petefrombristol

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Re: Eliza
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2014, 12:13:58 PM »
That's interesting: there's also the musical, of course, My Fair Lady. Given that Shaw took his idea from Ovid's Metamorphosis where there's a statue so perfect that it turns into a real woman (an idea also re-used by Shakespeare in A Winter's Tale) then the opening lines in Anna's song depicting this statuesque woman might be seen as having some correspondence. I suppose in Shaw and Ovid the woman is transformed by a man - there are some distinctly 'edgy' bits in both the Shaw play and My Fair Lady in terms of gender politics - it's perhaps in keeping with Anna's propensity for re-appropriating gender roles that she should do this consciously in Eliza. I'm thinking here of her covers of things like Fire (which has a slightly creepy undertone when sung by a man - even The Boss - and Foxy Lady (no further comment required!)). I suppose that in Eliza one interpretation could be that she cannot make this change in herself for herself, and is dependent on another woman to do it for her. I don't want to get into cod psychology (I really don't, and anyway, I find that trying to psycho-analyse cod you're on a hiding to nothing), but it could be said that there's an element of wanting to reject the protagonist as portrayed in a number of songs (Blackout, for example). That theme of surrender, of letting go, that Anna has talked about on a number of occasions, could be interpreted as a form of being unhappy with the outward-facing personality, and wanting to reject this in favour of something, perhaps, more 'real'. One difference, perhaps, between the 'Anna' in the song and Eliza Doolittle is that the former is taking matters into her own hands - albeit because she wants to be more like another woman - while the latter is the Professor's 'project', at the start, at least, regarded by him as a malleable raw material with very little agency of her own.

Oh dear, I've gone and painted myself into pseuds' corner again. I'll stop.

Petefrombristol

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Re: Eliza
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2014, 03:47:49 PM »
Before I got crushed by my own pretentiousness - and I note that I mis-spelt Metamorphoses to make it singular - I meant to add that, given Anna's statements about how she writes songs I'm not suggesting that she consciously makes these links: but she's obviously a very bright woman with a wide range of cultural references, so it's quite likely that all sorts of influences (not necessarily the ones I suggested) creep into her writing.

moulinette

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Re: Eliza
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2014, 07:27:49 AM »
I was listening to Where The Wild Roses grow today and I just twigged that the name Eliza could be a reference to that song. Would make sense considering Anna is a fan of Nick Cave and also she posted a picture of Nick Cave and Kylie on her tumblr...

After all Suzanne & I is referencing Suzanne by Leonard Cohen, so I do think she draws her names from other songs sometimes.

Petefrombristol

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Re: Eliza
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2014, 12:11:46 PM »
Interesting Moulinette: but is there a problem with the Wild Rose Eliza equating with Anna's Eliza, since the former comes across as rather passive, innocent, a victim - and very dead (!) - whereas the object of Anna's protagonist's desires is, surely, anything but. However, if Anna was just looking for a name that fitted, then, indeed, this song could well have come to mind. This is probably more likely to have been within Anna's musical horizons than Eliza Doolittle the pop singer and certainly more likely than Eliza Carthy, the thoroughly splendid fiddler-singer daughter of the extremely wonderful folk singer Martin Carthy! Sorry, I am at heart an old finger-in-the-ear folkie....