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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Namesake/Anaïs Mitchell

Is familiarity with Anaïs Nin's erotic novel A Spy in the House of Love a prerequisite for modern songwriters? You might think so, considering how often it turns up in popular music. Published in 1954, the book concerns a married woman (thought to be a fictionalized version of Nin herself) who carries on multiple affairs and thinks of herself as "an international spy in the house of love." We'll focus here on Anaïs Mitchell's allusion to the author and the book, as hers is among the more direct as well as the more recent references. The song's title provides the first clue, but it also includes these lines: Oh, but I, in the name of my namesake/Am a beautiful fly on the wall/Of your four-chambered heartbreak/A spy in the house of your love. (The Four-Chambered Heart was the title of a previous Nin novel, published in 1950. Along with A Spy in the House of Love, it is part of a five-novel sequence known as Cities of the Interior.)

Other references:
The Spy, from The Doors' 1970 album Morrison Hotel, features the line I'm a spy in the house of love.

A line from the novel, "I am an international spy in the house of love," served as an epigraph in the liner notes of Carly Simon's 1979 album Spy.

The dB's 1984 album Like This includes a song called A Spy In The House Of Love.

The 1988 album What Up, Dog?, from Was (Not Was), includes a song called Spy In The House Of Love.

Deborah Holland recorded her song There's a Spy (in the House of Love) with Animal Logic on their self-titled first album in 1989. More recently Holland re-recorded the song as (There's a) Spy in the House of Love (note the traveling parentheses) with her new group, The Refugees, for the album Unbound, released this year.

The English rock band The House of Love took their name from the novel, and called their 1990 collection of b-sides and rarities A Spy In The House Of Love.

Junction Seven, a 1997 album by Steve Winwood, features a song called Spy In The House Of Love.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I see how it is, I don't even get a mention for introducing you to Anais Mitchell! Harumph, sir.