Music Article

The Soundtrack of My Life: Cat Power

Indie-rock siren Cat Power, a.k.a. Chan Marshall, 40, recently released her acclaimed ninth studio album, ''Sun.'' She talks to EW about the songs that shaped her.

The first songs I was obsessed with

''The Chipmunks. Well, they weren't real chipmunks, just sped-up Beatles songs [laughs]. But 'Hard Day's Night,' I loved it — how someone could be sleeping like a log. I was maybe 4 years old. And Kenny Rogers! 'The Gambler,' man. My grandma has a cassette of me singing [sings twangily] 'Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away, know when to run...'''

The first album I bought with my own money

''Hüsker Dü's Metal Circus. I must have been 13. There was a cassette for $4.99 — it was the cheapest one and the cover was awesome. There were no people on it, just a photograph of a schoolroom desk and a window with the words written backwards. I was completely impressed.''

The song that changed my life

'''Amazing Grace,' sung by Aretha Franklin. When I was 12 I saw it on TV with my dad, old black-and-white file footage of her with her hair all coiffed up-up-up and that black Egyptian eyeliner and matte, matte pale lips, sweating and sweating. And I cried. It wasn't just the song — it was the singer that did it to me.''

The first song I ever sang in public

''[Survivor's] 'Eye of the Tiger,' in Stone Mountain, Georgia, in chorus in fifth grade. We all had to be a different animal in the jungle. I was just mouthing along.''

The song I like to play before I go out

''My ex's daughter played me the video for Robyn's 'Call Your Girlfriend' when it came out and I was like, 'God, I love her.' But I couldn't listen to that song for a couple months when he got married to a supermodel. [Marshall's ex, actor Giovanni Ribisi, married model Agyness Deyn soon after he and Marshall split earlier this year.]''

My favorite breakup album

''Mary J. Blige, The Breakthrough. What woman does she not speak to? Since this breakup four months ago, there have been two records, Blood on the Tracks and The Breakthrough. Bob Dylan and Mother Mary [laughs].''

The album I'd most like to cover

''Blood on the Tracks. I'd been asking [Dylan] through my booking agent since I was maybe 24, 'Please can I open up for you?' [When I finally met him] he looks down at my feet, he comes up to my eyes, and he goes [drawling] 'So, we finally meet. I got all your calls.' Oh, I died! And died again.''

The song I want played at my funeral

''You know, Van Morrison's 'Sweet Thing' is probably about as good as it gets.''

Originally posted Sep 21, 2012 Published in issue #1226 Sep 28, 2012 Order article reprints