“Life-Sized Marilyn Monroe” by Wild Strawberries
(Words/Music: Ken Harrison, Album: I Bet You Think I’m Lonely, Strawberry Records 1994)
Wild Strawberries are a husband/wife duo on vocals and keyboards respectively, with husband Ken Harrison doing the bulk of the songwriting, mastering simple songs filled with nostalgic lyrics which are perfectly suited for his wife Roberta Carter Harrison’s sweet and sultry vocals. “Life-Sized Marilyn Monroe” put them on the map in Canada and gained them enough notoriety to have Sarah McLachlan lend a hand on guitar on their next album. While the band’s heyday seems to have been in the early 90s, this is an album I still reach for on occasion when I need something “poppy” but not completely mindless.
“Life-Sized Marilyn Monroe” hit the radio about the same time as Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” and tells a more subdued story of a spurned lover. Because it is softer and more understated than Morissette’s tirade-laden song, it comes off as a stronger and more mature response. Filled with lyrics which allude to Romantic icons of the past (Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Rudolph Valentino, Jimmy Dean) who died tragic, early deaths, the singer seems to have escaped into a fantasy world and one is left to wonder whether she has unrealistic expectations for her romantic partners. Are they supposed to live up to these icons or does the relationship parallel their doomed and tragic lives? Either way, the song provides interesting fodder for the listener (as does the rest of the album) and when it finds itself in my CD player, it often stays around for awhile.