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FAST CLIP: Video for Waxahatchee’s “Misery over Dispute” by Joshua Mikel

FAST CLIP: Video for Waxahatchee's "Misery over Dispute" by Joshua Mikel

At their best, music videos can function as small films unto
themselves, underscoring the talents of their subjects by placing them
within scenarios that enhance lyrics, music and ambience all at once. In
so doing, these filmlets may recall, either
consciously or subliminally, other films. It is difficult, when watching
Joshua Mikel’s
recent video for southern rocker Waxahatchee’s (Katie Crutchfield)
“Misery Over
Dispute,” not to think of a few different films. The two that ring the
loudest
bells, though, are “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Raging Bull.” An
appropriate mix,
perhaps, for the story the song tells. In 12 lines, the song describes a
collapsed relationship, with the singer’s departure the only option, a
choice
of “misery over dispute.” The video is just under two minutes long,
pounded out
in the musician’s signature fashion, guitars heavy, voice somewhat
raspy, in
some senses more a chant than a song, melodic arc absent, almost
irrelevant in
a song this brief. The singer spends most of her time dancing, under a
spotlight, kicking dust up around her, and catching what look like
cinders as
they fall. Tom Waits fans may find some corollary here to some of the
stunts
Waits has pulled in his live shows, with scattered sparkles and a
semi-shuffle
that kicks up a glowing cloud around him. But what a contradiction of
impulses
this is. The freedom of the dance Crutchfield does here recalls the way
Gene
Kelly danced in a puddle in “Singin’ in the Rain,” with a seamless
optimism
that would be both foreign to contemporary viewers and something of a
standard
to reach toward—reflective, here, of the singer’s ability to leave,
leave and
not look back, choosing loneliness over argument. But, on the other
hand, when
Jake LaMotta dances alone, under dim lights, in a boxing ring, in “Raging
Bull,” we
see a figure who relishes battle, who relishes conflict, and whose
movements
around the ring have acquired, with time, an epic quality, however raw
and crude
his activities while actually boxing might be. As Waxahatchee sings of
feeling
“spineless and sick in your eyes,” we can’t help but feel the pull of
the
battle, of argument, of rage, a feeling conveyed in very few words. The
director has chosen a dark, shadowy room and soft, black-and-white hues
for the
video, usually code for realism, but in this case a code for the
dreamlike
state we find ourselves in when within that most beguiling of situations, the
human
relationship.

Max Winter is the Editor of Press Play.

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