Item added to your cart.

Hips and Makers (30th Anniversary Edition)
Kristin Hersh
Catalogue Number
Release Date
May 3, 2024

Kristin Hersh on Hips and Makers:

Hips and Makers was a secret. Not a dark or ugly secret, but a skeleton I dressed perfunctorily and left in the closet so it could stay quiet, which it seemed to prefer. Acoustic songs were not Throwing Muses’ bread or butter, so I let them pile up, bone by bone, until I had what could have been a working body, if it hadn’t lacked muscles and viscera.

Some, like ‘The Letter,’ and ‘Close Your Eyes,’ were written when I was a teenager, crashing in the Doghouse, an empty apartment in Rhode Island. Some, like ‘Your Ghost’, were written on the road years later; some, like ‘Velvet Days,’ at 4am while my baby slept.

Dude had a song called ‘Houdini Blues’ with many of these lyrics, but none of us could remember how it went. So, I wrote this music filling in and tweaking the lyrics, then sent it back and he said, “Yeah, that’s how it went.” A very Dude moment. My parents were hippies, but they were hippies from Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They taught me all the Appalachian folk songs I know. ‘The Cuckoo’ is the only one that isn’t about a guy getting drunk and killing his girlfriend.

Some, I’d recorded for Billy, just for him. I thought we had an understanding that he was my husband, but he saw it differently: that he was my manager too, and sent them to my business manager, who gave them in turn to Michael Stipe and [US label] Warners. Between them all, the decision was made to release these demos. It was like someone walking into your house and publishing your diary. There was no production value, long silences, and some gnarly screeching. I didn’t get it, and I waited for them to admit they felt sorry for me and just leave these songs in peace.

Really, none would have seen the light of day if I wasn’t desperate to get out of a corporate recording contract, having told Warners that I was never going to deliver the sexist product they required to put promotional money behind turning someone into a pop star. I didn’t wanna be a pop star anyway — in one year and out the next: I wanted to be a working musician for the rest of my life. Even if it had to be outside of the industry entirely. So, Warners were offered the exchange – my solo record in trade for my freedom.

But, I said, don’t release demos, that’s too weird... let me go into the studio and make a record on purpose. Michael was often on the phone while I was in the studio, saying, “Don’t change it, don’t screw this up.” And it was surprisingly easy to get these goofy songs down, except for the cello. Though none of my studio training with the band had taught me anything about recording this gravelly, wobbly instrument that I couldn’t control. It was like trying to record a horse: barrel-chested and much more texture than, say, a bass. I whined about this to Michael one day and whatever he said next, I didn’t hear, because his voice and ‘Your Ghost’ were playing at the same time. I interrupted him and said, “You have to sing on it; your voice is between the cello and the song.”

I used [producer] Lenny Kaye as a gentle ear, to sit in the control room so I didn’t have to break any performance spell. He knew all the Muses’ records and where I stood on product versus substance, so I trusted him. He opened the beers, cracked me up when I needed that, and let me take him to the beach between takes.

So, I added muscles and viscera, in other words, and no lipstick. Just made a body that still preferred to be quiet, even though now it had to walk all over the world and make friends. Which it seems to do quite well, as quiet as it is.

When they sent me the cover art — Shinro’s beautiful painting — they had written my name on it. I called, laughing, saying, “No, no, no... don’t do that. Just write Hips and Makers.” I could hear the eye roll. The art director said, very patiently “Whose name did you want us to write on it?” I froze in fear: Oh shit, nowhere to hide.

It's called Hips and Makers because it’s a, ‘sort of why we’re here,’ phrase. Keep it simple, in other words. We have bodies and love; give with these in every sphere.

Digital Tracklist

Disc 1

  1. 1 Your Ghost 3:16 Buy

    Your Ghost

  2. 2 Beestung 3:08 Buy


  3. 3 Teeth 4:10 Buy


  4. 4 Sundrops 4:02 Buy


  5. 5 Sparky 1:29 Buy


  6. 6 Houdini Blues 4:26 Buy

    Houdini Blues

  7. 7 A Loon 4:18 Buy

    A Loon

  8. 8 Velvet Days 3:52 Buy

    Velvet Days

  9. 9 Close Your Eyes 5:27 Buy

    Close Your Eyes

  10. 10 Me and My Charms 4:16 Buy

    Me and My Charms

Disc 2

  1. 1 Hysterical Bending 3:56 Buy

    Hysterical Bending

  2. 2 The Key 3:36 Buy

    The Key

  3. 3 Uncle June and Aunt Kiyoti 2:33 Buy

    Uncle June and Aunt Kiyoti

  4. 4 When the Levee Breaks 4:35 Buy

    When the Levee Breaks

  5. 5 A Loon (String Version) 4:26 Buy

    A Loon (String Version)

  6. 6 Sundrops (String Version) 4:12 Buy

    Sundrops (String Version)

  7. 7 Me and My Charms (String Version) 4:32 Buy

    Me and My Charms (String Version)

  8. 8 Velvet Days (String Version) 3:42 Buy

    Velvet Days (String Version)

  9. 9 The Key (String Version) 3:40 Buy

    The Key (String Version)

  10. 10 Velvet Days (String Version - Instrumental) 3:42 Buy

    Velvet Days (String Version - Instrumental)

Show All Tracks 25

Kristin Hersh

--:-- --:--

Privacy Settings

This site uses cookies. For information, please read our cookies policy. Cookies Policy

Allow All
Manage Consent Preferences