Analyzing Soviet Kitsch: Part II

This is a continuation of the first part of my analysis for Soviet Kitsch, so if you’d like to read Part I, I will link it down below!


Track 7: “Whisper”

“Whisper” isn’t so much a song as it is a spoken intermission piece. The piece, which is a conversation between Regina and her brother, Bear, is sometimes listed as “***”. 

[BEAR]

When is that song gonna start?

[REGINA]

Which song?

[BEAR]

The song that goes like, “Duh na-nuh-nuh-na-nuh-nuh duh-na-nuh-na-nuh?”

The “duh na-nuh-nuh” song Bear is referring to is “Your Honor”, the next song on the album. I think it’s really sweet that Regina added this spoken-word piece between her and Bear, and in regards to the piece, Regina said the following: “That was my little brother whispering in a tent we made out of a sound blanket on the studio floor…. I’m so glad I get to keep that memory on record…. so sweet!”


Track 8: “Your Honor”

Following the quiet, placid nature of “Whisper,” “Your Honor” hits us with a bang. The first line of the song, I kissed your lips and I tasted blood, is actually a callback to the first line of “Sailor Song”: She will kiss you till your lips bleed. The “duh na-nuh-nuhs” Bear references in “Whisper” are Regina impersonating a guitar rift- another callback lyric on the album. Regina often adds “nonsense” sounds and onomatopoeia to her songs, including the dolphin sound in Far’s “Folding Chair” (one of my favorites!). My impression of “Your Honor” is that Regina’s boyfriend got into a fight, and he’s explaining to her that he fought to defend her honor. I think the bigger metaphor of “Your Honor” is poking fun at the patriarchy, and denouncing fighting on the behalf of any honor. My favorite line is the following:

I said, “I don’t kiss losers and I don’t kiss winners”

De-nu-mwah du-nuh-mwah mwah mwah

“And I don’t fight for honor ’cause we all are born sinners”

Duh na-nuh-nuh duh na-nuh-nuh duh-na-nuh-na-nuh

Could Regina’s character be a pacifist? There’s no way of knowing.


Track 9: “Ghost of Corporate Future”

This is possibly my favorite song on the album, behind “Chemo Limo.” I’m obsessed with the story and the message of the song, especially how Regina winds humor into the lyrics.

Image result for regina spektor soviet kitsch"

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the tale of A Christmas Carol: A money-hungry man is visited by three ghosts who warn him of a miserable future, unless he decides to become kinder and gentler. That’s essentially what the ghost of corporate future is telling the man in this story: if he doesn’t loosen up and enjoy life, he’s going to be miserable and miss the important parts. It reminds me a lot of Rebecca Stead’s passage about metaphorical veils:

“Mom says each of us has a veil between ourselves and the rest of the world, like a bride wears on her wedding day, except this kind of veil is invisible. We walk around happily with these invisible veils hanging down over our faces. The world is kind of blurry, and we like it that way. But sometimes our veils are pushed away for a few moments, like there’s a wind blowing it from our faces. And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love. But mostly we are happy not to. Some people learn to lift the veil themselves. Then they don’t have to depend on the wind anymore.”

The ghost of corporate future is an analogy for greed destroying mankind, but optimistically reminds him that it’s never too late to change. When you lift your veil and pay attention to the bigger things in life instead of worrying that the world is ending, you’ll find that life is much more pleasurable and fulfilling.


Track 10: “Chemo Limo” 

As previously stated, “Chemo Limo” is another one of my all-time favorite Regina songs. It’s quite dark, seeing as the subject matter is centered around a mother with cancer. In the first line, the character discusses the financial burden of childcare while fighting her disease. “Crispy crispy Benjamin Franklin” is a metaphor for one-hundred dollar bills.

I had a dream

Crispy crispy Benjamin Franklin came over

And babysat all four of my kids

The song is called “Chemo Limo” because Regina is saying she’d rather spend her money on a limo ride for her and her kids, instead of going through the pain and burden of chemotherapy. Like I said, quite dark.

Here’s a passage from the second half of the song:

Then I got dressed

I dressed the kids as well

The limousine pulled in, and we piled in

The doctor he asked

Which way we were headed

I said “Sir, let’s just go west”, and he listened obediently

Sophie only wants to listen to radio BBC

Michael sat on my knees and whispered to me

All about the meanies

Jacqueline was being such a big girl

With her cup of tea looking out of the window

And Barbara

She looks just like my mom

Oh my god, Barbara

She looks so much like my mom

While the mother is in the limo with her kids, she’s reflecting on what her children’s lives will be like after she passes. Will Michael grow up being bullied at school? Is Jacqueline old enough to handle being on her own? And Barbara reminds Regina of her own mortality, and her mother- who perhaps also passed away from cancer.

Essentially, the second half of the song is about the anxiety Regina’s character has for the future of her children after her death. It’s quite sad, but eerily touching and impactful.


Track 11: “Somedays”

Finally, Soviet Kitsch ends with “Somedays,”  a slower piece that discusses the general topic of depression. She talks about the melancholy passing of time, and the depressive tendency to isolate oneself when dealing with depression or bipolar disorder. 

Downtown, downtown

I’m not here

Not anymore

I’ve gone away

Don’t call me

Don’t write

She sounds desperate to be alone with her thoughts in the song, especially towards the end when she repetitively repeats “Don’t call me, don’t call me, don’t call me, don’t write…” I personally don’t deal with depression, but I do have anxiety, which can cause me to become reclusive and sensitive during difficult periods in my life. It’s a brace topic to discuss- the sense of feeling “unlike yourself” and losing control of your stability during bad bouts. 


It’s been a pleasure to record my thoughts about Soviet Kitsch and share my theories with you. Do you have a favorite song on the album? What do you think about the themes of power, patriarchy, and wellness? Let me know below!

Part I: https://diplomatsdigest.wordpress.com/2019/11/25/analyzing-soviet-kitsch-part-i/

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