Friday, March 18, 2011

Belly / Tanya Donelly

Belly was an awesome early 90s 'alternative' band.  They were headed by lead singer and guitar player Tanya Donelly and they had a few other people I never cared to remember the names of.  I first heard of Belly when I heard their song Feed the Tree, from their first album 'Star', on the radio.  It caught my attention because it was composed of mostly nonsensical lyrics that seemed like they should mean something.  Maybe they did/do, but I can't figure it out. Maybe one of you can figure it out:

This little squirrel I used to be
Slammed her bike down the stairs
They put silver where her teeth had been
Baby silver tooth, she grins and grins.

Two other notable songs from that album were Gepetto and Full Moon Empty Heart.  The lyrics for Gepetto are a bit less gibberish, but not much meaning still.  They talk about a boy from a bad home coming over and decapitating her dolls, and if you bore him you lose your sole to him.  At least I can think of some ideas of what this might mean, as dirty/disturbing as they may be...  I'm not even going to look up the lyrics for Full Moon Empty Heart.  I only mention it because I remember it being featured in an episode of Homicide:  Life on the Streets (Watch this, awesome clip, unrelated to the music.)  They used the buildup at the beginning of the song as a buildup to a raid on a house.  At the time it seemed perfect, and I was probably a bit suprised to hear an old, non-single, belly song on a current tv show.

Belly's second album, King, was actually the first album of theirs I purchased.  Ok, I didn't purchase it.  I got "12 cds for one penny" from columbia house and never purchased my 6 full priced ones.  The whole album is good.  One memorable song was the single Super Connected.  Here's a lyrics snippit:

So You're Super-connected now?
All the freaks gather around,
and the crowd in your bedroom waits,
for a piece of your personal space.
Are their heartstrings connected
to the wings you've got slapped on your back?

I doubt the lyrics are meant to be interpreted in the way I have interpreted them, but my thoughts were that she was describing a girl on IRC or IM late at night with random people who (truthfully or not) seemed to be infatuated with her.  All the freaks gathering around her, crowded (virtually) in her bedroom, trying to get a piece of her personal space.  Were they really only infatuated with the girl they imagined her to be?

Anyway, after King, Tanya Donelly broke up the band.  She was the band after all.  No one cared about those other people, whomever they were (though the female guitarist did join L7 which weren't too bad.)  She's released a few solo albums since then.  The only one I've listened to is her first one, Lovesongs for Underdogs.  Most of the songs are good, but the album is full of gibberish lyrics, par for the course.  Pretty Deep was the first single with video to come out.  It wasn't bad.  Had some gibberish about a camera and a dead body on the beach that was only a tire.  Manna, though is a very good song.  It's mellow, yet builds up into a calm excitement.  

To conclude, Belly and Tanya Donelly's music is mostly a light, happy listen, with a few really good songs.  Give these two songs below a listen and, if you have time, check out the ones linked above.

Belly - Gepetto

Tanya Donelly - Manna


  1. I should have been born about 10 years earlier so I could have experienced the 90s fully..

    Followed! Check out my blog, it's about music as well!

  2. Love the songs! thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks. Appreciate the recommendations.

  4. LOL i know the girl. havent seen her for ages though. great to take this blast from the past here :)

  5. Not bad. I'd listen to more if I come across it.

  6. Oh, can I comment on a six year old post? If so, sorry for 'necro-commenting'. I think her lyrics are reasonably decipherable in general terms, while it is the case that she'll always have to confirm the exact meaning from her pov. But this is just because she (especially on Star) writes about childhood experiences and memories but makes then surreal (to match how they seemed to her at the time). Hence you get this dark yet playful fantasy world. 'Feed the Tree' is what the old man is doing: because he's dead, is decomposing, is composting, is feeding the tree.