An intense, personal, exquisitely revealing celebration of female pleasure; London-based songwriter Anna B Savage has shared her latest single, ‘Chelsea Hotel #3’. Taken from her upcoming album which is due via City Slang later this year, the track is an affecting, powerful exploration of female desire, and how Savage has learned to dismiss the damaging tropes associated with it.
Fans of Leonard Cohen may be familiar with Savage’s opening lyric – “He was giving me head on my unmade bed” – as it’s paraphrased from Cohen’s track ‘Chelsea Hotel #2’. Over tentative guitar sounds, revealing lyrics, and through her measured, captivating vocals; Savage reveals how she learned to prioritize herself, and how female pleasure is not “secondary”. She subverts Cohen’s storytelling, re-writing the narrative to rid her feelings of shame and confusion.
Savage explores the meaning behind ‘Chelsea Hotel #3’ in more details: “‘Wank More’ was my 2016 New Year’s Resolution. It was part of my need to battle all the internalised bullshit I had ingested about women. I’ve spent the last few years actively unlearning things I spent my first twenty years passively being fed. Like how women are sexualised, but never allowed to be sexual, they are the object (sometimes even an object). It took me until 21 to start masturbating, even longer to realise that sex was also for me (groundbreaking, I know) and that I had agency and could and should ask for things. It’s wildly frustrating and sad. Out of these thoughts came ‘Chelsea Hotel #3’.”
“While it’s a naked nod to Cohen’s Janis Joplin in ‘Chelsea Hotel #2’, in my mind it’s an even bigger nod to Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick, a book which prompted me to be able to express myself in this way. The man in ‘Chelsea Hotel #3’ is a stand in for all men, and as I’m telling my story, here he plays the role of the passive pawn and “muse”, a like-for-like role reversal of how women have “inspired” men for centuries. The song is a groan of boredom for the role of passive, mute, muse women, and a scream for female autonomy and pleasure.”
Produced by William Doyle (East India Youth), ‘Chelsea Hotel #3’ marks the first new music for Savage since her 2015 EP, which caught the attention of Father John Misty and Jenny Hval (both of whom brought Savage out on European tours). Savage defiantly sings on her new track “I will learn to take care of myself”, and we fully believe that she will.