Comedian Margaret Cho Gets Serious With Her New Album Of Music, 'American Myth'
"I hope they listen at maximum volume!"
Her first studio album, Cho Dependent, was released in 2010, and featured collaborations with Fiona Apple, Tegan and Sara, and Tommy Chong, among others. But Cho is back with her second set, titled American Myth.
"American Myth is a lyric from the song 'Anna Nicole' about the American myth that certain people are too beautiful for this world," Cho tells A Plus. The record — which she describes as a mixture of Americana, Beatlemania, and '90s riot girl styles — also serves as a medium to discuss topics she says can be complex to bring up in the world of comedy.
"I always make music, whether it is released or not," she says. "It's a social thing, as most of my friends are musicians, so I am constantly in their home studios or going to their shows, hanging out after, making up songs, laughing about, 'What if we did this?' and then doing it."
What she did was craft 12 songs — mostly with the help of singer-songwriter Garrison Starr — that prove this is not a comedy album. But that's not to say humor can't be found on American Myth. One of the early singles from the album is "Fat Pussy," a sometimes-silly track Cho told Bust was "my fat pride anthem, which is a glorious and joyous celebration of my body and all female fatness — a love song to my fat."
Check out the video for "Fat Pussy":
Though that tune is lighthearted, "Come With Me" might be one of the most feel-good songs on American Myth. The set-opener emanates dreamy pop with its arching guitar and tubular sonics further encouraging the lyrics' run-away-with-me escapism.
Meanwhile, "Topaz" — inspired by an Austin, Texas-based session saxophone player Cho says lives in a gold trailer — was a playful tune that "was done in seconds." The music by David Garza showcases Cho's lyrics about "such a stunningly beautiful guy and such a good player, he had to have a tribute."
If focusing solely on early portions of the music video, viewers might mistake "Ron's Got a DUI" as a campy nod to Cho's San Francisco roots, and the gay men who've been attached to the city and filled out her fan base for decades. But go further into the clip and the song's word, and you may be wondering if Cho's tribute requires other acronyms to describe Ron's condition.
Watch the video for "Ron's Got a DUI" below:
Things get a little more personal on the folksy "We So Worry," which features Cho singing with her parents.
"... My parents were really nervous to sing on the track. We did a good job, though. And it's so amazing that my parents are on a recording that originated at the same place David Bowie's last recording, Blackstar, was made," Cho says.
While the setting may have been legendary, the song — written by Bitch — explores the timelessly contentious relationship between a child and her parents, here specifically focused on Cho moving to Los Angeles to start her career, as well as her coming out to her mom and dad.
"I know I'm still your child," Cho sings, with her mother responding, "Why you so wild?" before the family comes together to chant, "But now that I have grown / Why can't you, why can't you come home?"
"Georgia Sky" serves as Cho's "angry anthem" on American Myth, but the eyebrow-raising "I Wanna Kill My Rapist" may trick listeners into thinking it should hold the title. Though the video does include some laugh-worthy moments that pull from her strength as a comedian, it's one of a few songs that propels her statements forward in ways, she says, can't be done through comedy.
"It makes sense to me, but I don't know if these songs have the same currency as parody songs or novelty songs, which I also love as a genre of music," she says. " 'I Wanna Kill My Rapist' is a good example of what can be done in music and not in comedy. The song helps me talk about it in my comedy more readily. At times, serious topics are jarring in the world of comedy, but for me, comedy is the art where these topics must be addressed. So my musical side helps my comedic side and vice versa."
Watch the video for the controversial song, "I Wanna Kill My Rapist":
Besides "Ron's Got a DUI" and "We So Sorry," perhaps the most touching track on American Myth is a tribute to Cho's late friend, Anna Nicole Smith. The model, actress, and reality TV personality defined the term "lightning rod" in the 1990s and early 2000s, stemming mostly from her marriage to a much older man and a long-lasting court battle with his family. Smith died of a drug overdose in 2007.
Cho appeared on Smith's The Anna Nicole Show — where the two famously shared a kiss. But she's long admired Smith's contributions to the world of fashion and beauty, previously noting in 944 magazine in 2008 that, "I really loved Anna Nicole Smith and [her death] was really devastating to me. ... She really changed my whole perspective on beauty. When she first came out in those Guess ads, she was big and she was gorgeous. She really showed me that a big girl could rock out and I was so moved by her."
Watch the video for "Anna Nicole":
The twangy "Gentleman Jim," a cover of Garrison Starr's "Beautiful in L.A.," the seemingly "written from two perspectives" "Moran & Miri," and the tender "Daddy, I Miss You" round out the album, and Cho hopes fans will love this body of work as much as she does.
"I hope they rock out. I hope they enjoy it. I hope they get to hear all the layers of sound Garrison put into it. I hope they listen at maximum volume!" she says.
We did, and think you should, too.
Here is the full track list for "American Myth":
1. Come With Me