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World Cafe Looks Back: '90s Alternative | February 27, 2012

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This episode of World Cafe honors the alternative rock movement of the 1990s, with six artists who rose to mainstream success: Kristin Hersh, Belly, Liz Phair, Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield, and Matthew Sweet.

We begin with Hersh, who helped define the college rock sound of the late '80s and '90s as lead singer of Throwing Muses. In this interview from 2001, she describes the songwriting process of "Your Ghost" with R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe for her first solo record. Hersh's half-sister and bandmate in Throwing Muses, Tanya Donelly, eventually left the band to form Belly. She appeared on World Cafe in 1993, to discuss the success of her album Star and share her "meanest" song, "Untogether."

Liz Phair floored fans and critics with her 1993 debut Exile in Guyville, a song-for-song response to The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. In this 2003 session, Phair discusses the struggle to live up to the overwhelming weight of her first album, as well as the way motherhood affected the creative process behind her pop-infused self-titled release.

In a session from 1992, both Juliana Hatfield and The Lemonheads' Evan Dando discuss the records that brought their music to a wider audience. For Hatfield, that release was Hey Babe, her first solo album after she left the Blake Babies; for Dando, it was The Lemonheads' It's a Shame About Ray, which featured Hatfield on bass and vocals. In this interview, Hatfield discusses her inability to write a song with just three chords, while Dando describes working with Johnny Depp on the music video for "It's a Shame About Ray."

Finally, we turn to a 1995 session with Matthew Sweet, who enjoyed enormous critical and commercial success with his 1991 debut, Girlfriend. In this interview, Sweet and host David Dye discuss the shrinking size of headphones, as well as Sweet's work with producer Brendan O'Brien.

This segment originally aired on October 13, 2011.(link)

Playlist

Hour 1

(( )) for interlude music

Fiona Apple "Fast As You Can" When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King...
Kristen Hersh "Your Ghost" Recorded Live for the World Cafe
Belly "Feed the Tree" Star
Belly "Untogether" Recorded Live for the World Cafe
Belly "Gepetto" Star

((David Bazan "Bearing Witness" Curse Your Branches))

Liz Phair "Divorce Song" Recorded Live for the World Cafe

((Doveman "Castles" Conformist))

Evan Dando & Juliana Hatfield "Everybody Loves Me But You" Recorded Live for the World Cafe
Evan Dando & Juliana Hatfield "It's a Shame About Ray" Recorded Live for the World Cafe
Matthew Sweet "Girlfriend" Recorded Live for the World Cafe
Matthew Sweet "Sick of Myself" Recorded Live for the World Cafe

Hour 2

Santana "Smooth" Supernatural
Buena Vista Social Club "Chan Chan" Buena Vista Social Club
Buena Vista Social Club "Dos Gardenias" Buena Vista Social Club
Moby "Run On" Play
Macy Gray "I Try" On How Life Is

((Midlake "Bandits" The Trials Of Van Occupanther))

My Morning Jacket "Golden" Recorded Live for the World Cafe
My Morning Jacket "One Big Holiday" Recorded Live for the World Cafe
Old 97's "Jagged" Fight Songs
Dido "Thank You" No Angel

((Tame Impala "Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind" Innerspeaker))

Harriet "I Slept With All Your Mothers" Tell The Right Story
Harriet "Sign" Tell The Right Story
Tom Waits "Hold On" Mule Variations   

((Alela Diane "Lady Divine" To Be Still))