A two-time Barclaycard Mercury Prize winner PJ Harvey gave a subtle tribute to the late novelist J.D. Salinger in her album Is This Desire?
In fact, the English singer-songwriter has a few literary allusions in the album, which was released in 1998.
But in the second verse of the album’s opening track “Angelene” you hear Harvey achingly singing, “Rose is my color, and white / Pretty mouth and green my eyes.” [audio http://ordre.blogspirit.com/media/01/01/1080882819.mp3]
You can read similar lines in “Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes,” a Salinger story originally published in The New Yorker in 1951.
The short story, later collected in Nine Stories, is about Arthur, a New York lawyer, whose wife is cheating on him. In a phone conversation, Arthur hysterically tells his friend about a poem he dedicated to his wife Joanie.
“Or I start thinking about–Christ, it’s embarrassing–I start thinking about this goddam poem I sent her when we first started goin’ around together. ‘Rose my color is and white, Pretty mouth and green my eyes.’ Christ, it’s embarrassing–it used to remind me of her.”
In contrast to the song, Harvey is singing about a prostitute named Angelene who is searching for love. Either way, her allusion to Salinger’s story can’t be mistaken.