PREMIERE: Catey Shaw Breathes Femininity Into Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Cover “American Girl”

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From the minds of Richard Gottehrer (founder of The Orchard and Instant Records) and Instant Records’ Allison Zatarain, Instant Love is a collaborative project launched on International Women’s Day and is rolling out a new song from a different female vocalists every two weeks. Reshaped classics from the past, Instant Love is more than just songs about women; this time around, they’re songs about women for and by women. Singer Catey Shaw says her version is more poignant than innocent as the original version alludes.

“It was an interesting challenge to find a song that could be flipped a bit with a change in vocalist. It’s funny how different the lyrics sound when read in an unfamiliar voice. I always knew Tom Petty’s “American Girl” as a happy classic song, so when Jay Levine and I sat down and dissected it a bit it was surprising to find this kind of sadness. There seemed to be such an innocence about it, which now reads as a poignant contrast to the world as we now know it.”

A testament to friends, mothers, wives, sisters and everything in between, Highlight is premiering Shaw’s version of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ hit “American Girl.” Check out the song below and what Gottehrer and Zatarain had to say about the making of Instant Love.

 

 

What does this song mean to you?
Zatarain: “American Girl” is a classic. It’s a song you sing on a road trip with the wind in your hair and the feeling of freedom. I was surprised to hear the melancholy in [Shaw’s] version. Her female voice flips the story to be about love, concern, and understanding for a lost girl. And that’s at the heart of the Instant Love series – changing the meaning of a song with a different narrator, and uncovering new feelings between women through music. For the past century, women have heard about ourselves through a male gaze, which although is at times romantic, it can also feel objectifying, sexual, and foreign. I hope this new version of “American Girl” connects with female audiences in a new way.

 

Why do you think it’s important for this song (or these songs) to be out in the world?
Z: The Instant Love series is a journey. It started out as a way for women to uncover and celebrate nuanced feelings for each other previously left out of popular music. We were aiming to stay modern and reflect our culture’s changing definitions of gender and love. But these songs are relevant in so many other ways. They apply to feminism and feeling stronger as a group from within. They apply to nurturing self-love in women, which arises when we sing about ourselves. And they apply to sexual fluidity and the shades of gray in relationships with women as well.

 

What was your favorite part about working on this song/this collection?
Z: There is so much to love. I feel that the Instant Love series has a lot of heart behind it, and doing something positive within the entertainment industry is very rewarding. We also get to meet so many new people from around the world! At a record label, there is usually a long cycle of working with a particular artist and recording songs. Whereas with Instant Love, we release a new single every 2 weeks! So we’re in a perpetual state of meeting new artists, managers, musicians, and producers, talking about songs and arrangements, and catching live shows. It’s a great feeling to know there are people from various cultures around the world that can come together for a beautiful and artistic expression.

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