In Deep With Edie Brickell

Edie is what she is in this week's Forgotten Video
  • Edie Brickell in "What I Am"
October 21, 2010 -- 4:00 am PDT
GRAMMY.com

Welcome to Forgotten Videos. Well, for some forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week we'll feature a video that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or, we'll be giving a fresh look at a video that deserves to be collecting dust. We're not here to judge, we just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
"What I Am"
1988

With the proliferation of rock and rap artists dominating MTV's airwaves in the late '80s, in slid Edie Brickell & New Bohemians to offer the kids a thought-provoking, left-of-center pop alternative.

After emerging as favorites on the Dallas music scene, the Bohemians caught the attention of Geffen Records and released their debut album, Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars, in 1988. Preceding the album, the Bohemians shot into the limelight with the release of the single "What I Am," which topped out at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The video garnered heavy airplay on MTV, depicting what appears to be a midnight band rehearsal in a bohemian-style attic, with Edie bobbing and swaying to the music in and around mannequin busts and trance-inducing lightbulbs.

Lyrically, the song has been painted as a Zen-like parable, fodder for discussion during a community college Philosophy 101 course or a bunch of new bohemian mumbo jumbo, or something in between. With prose such as "I'm not aware of too many things/I know what I know if you know what I mean" and "Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box/Religion is the smile on a dog," the jury is likely to remain out. Our take? Either Edie was slyly poking fun at new age pop philosophy, or she's way deeper than we could hope to be.

What is definitely not shallow is the guitar playing on "What I Am." Guitarist Kenny Withrow's hip suspended chords evoke the work of the Police's Andy Summers and his memorable solo mimics Edie's cereal box chatter with rhythmic and melodic fluidity, coming to life through the inventive use of a Boss T Wah pedal.

Perhaps the Bohemians weren't what they were as they disbanded following the release of their second album, Ghost Of A Dog. Thankfully, Edie was able to find someone else to get deep with when she married Paul Simon in 1992, a union that's still what it was after 18 years.

Have you ever looked at your dog and pondered religion? Got a Forgotten Video recommendation? Leave us a comment.

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