Photos By: Rachel Frank
By: Hannah Winokur
If you are born in 92’ or any year near it, you know the damn song. It is a song everyone can recite at least one line from. So when we heard that song was going to be sung…we had to be there. Vanessa Carlton was coming to San Diego, and playing at The Casbah. Casbah typically means a little grimy, a little punk, a lot of beer. But not on Sunday January 24. Casbah meant poetic, piano playing, songwriter princess Vanessa Carlton.
She opened with a song off her new album, which was quickly followed by a timeless favorite “White Houses.” A song about the shedding of innocence, the mistakes a year girl in lust makes. Prior to beginning White Houses she took the time to disclose to the crowd that the song had a lasting effect on her younger brother, that it tortured him and made him all too knowing of his older sister’s short-lived promiscuity. A mere six months prior he had approached her with a heavily weighted “WHY?” as this song entered their conversation. Vanessa had to take the time to share with him (and us) that White Houses is not a personal anecdote, it is a co-written narrative. This was news to me. And to her brother.
Moving forward and away from the private details everyone assumed were Vanessa’s own… Liberman-her latest album is formally introduced. It is here where you begin to realize she is so much more than the pop gal with the catchy song. She references her immigrant grandfather chasing the American dream, and chasing it so fast that he changes his name. In order to alleviate the burden of being an immigrant at such a time her grandfather assumed the surname “Lee,” rather than his birth given “Liberman.” And THAT is how her most recent album came to be titled.
Well here is a fun fact, Vanessa is wed to Deer Tick frontman John J Mccauley. She spares a time in between her songs to talk about him, their lofty age difference (6 years), their daughter, their home in Nashville. It all makes her very human and approachable. She elaborates on her private life with jokes about a shitty teacher she has had (Kay), she scoffs about giving up on her dream of being a ballerina (a consequence of the shitty teacher), and she makes sure the crowd is engaged in each song.
Vanessa Carlton is a true singer songwriter. There is no glamour, or sparkly performance to conceal how she is really feeling. There are just 5 candles and a kick-ass violinist-Skye Steele- as she serenades a bunch of 90’s kids. And yes. She did play “A Thousand Miles.” And it ruled.