I was nine when Liz Phair's Exile In Guyville came out. I was fourteen when I heard it. Needless to say, I didn't understand half of what she was singing about - Sure, I understood the emotion behind "Fuck and Run" just fine even though the physical aspect of it was lost on me until some years later. The explicit "Flower", however, went completely over my head and, well, when I finally did understand what the lyrics meant, I was pretty appalled that my parents hadn't monitored my listening patterns a little more closely.
While other girls my age were listening to Justin Timberlake and those other guys he used to be in that one band with, I was listening to Phair sing "I want to feel your fresh young jimmy; jamming, slamming, ramming in me." My face turns more than a little red thinking about it, truth be told because a good portion of Exile still makes my eyes widen with disbelief at the sheer vulgarness of it. But if it weren't for albums like this, I wouldn't be who I am today.
I feel like, as with most people, I've cooled my feelings towards Phair in recent years. I barely remember anything of Whitechochocolatespaceegg except for the god awful (yet strangely mouth watering) title and the charming "Polyesther Bride". By the time Phair's self titled 2003 album came out and "Why Can't I" became a pop sensation, the lewd Phair that I knew had been all but completely tamed. Like a captive lioness being tossed in a zoo. It wasn't until seeing Phair duet with hipster vegan heartthrob Ted Leo at Matador 21 on the seminal classic "Fuck and Run" that I realized how much of a badass Phair used to be. I, appropriately and proverbially, wiped the dust off my off my (digital) copy of Exile in Guyville and rediscovered not only the Phair I knew but a side of Phair that deeply related to a side of me that was far too young to grasp the raunch of Guyville when I first procured it.
Phair cornered the market in 1993 when she released her debut, so far as "Music for the Alt-Girl Who Can (To Quote Jenny Lewis) Take Her Clothes Off But Cannot Fall In Love". From the opening lines of "6'1"" ("I bet you fall in bed too easily with the beautiful girls who are shyly, brave and you sell yourself as a man to save them.") to "Divorce Song" ("If... you're still unhappy, then you know that the problem is you."), Exile is wrought with the emotion that every single girl in their early-to-mid-twenties who wonder "Whatever happened to a boyfriend?"