To the younger Americana audience, Edie Brickell is most recognized as Steve Martin’s duo partner, and to rather she may be best known as the mam of Songwriters hall of Fame icon Paul Simon. But before she to be either of those, she front Edie Brickell & new Bohemians, who breakout (and pretty much only) hit, “What ns Am,” took optimal 40 radio in a different direction in 1989.

The band’s folky jazz sound was a breath of fresh air for radio listeners who were recovering indigenous a te of hair bands and omnipresent MTV acts. Propelled by a fretless bass, “What ns Am” was heralded as every little thing from beatnik-inspired existentialism to complete gibberish. Through lyrics she spoke practically as lot as she sang, Brickell came across to some as a human being who didn’t know a lot about life and maybe didn’t really treatment to. A depth look at those words, however, revealed one artist that was a entirety lot smarter than she may have actually seemed.

Many writers battle to rhyme the critical word that every line, also though a rhyming word isn’t constantly what’s ideal for the song. In this case, no a solitary line of this song rhymes with any other heat in the exact same verse. There room rhymes, however, from in ~ one city to the next. In various other words, two of the currently of the first verse,

Philosophy is a speak on cereal box religionIs a smile on a dog

rhyme v two lines of the 2nd verse,

You are watching: What i am edie brickel

Philosophy is a to walk on slippery rocks religionIs a light in the fog.

The lines also contain the same number of syllables. The clever, outside-the-box lyric writing, and when merged with a sound that was unlike anything rather at the time, it’s basic to see why the song, and also the album it come from (Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars), did so well. Brickell normally shares creating credit ~ above the song with guitarist Kenny Withrow, though all 5 members the the tape are provided as writers in the ASCAP ACE database. However she told Vanity fair in 2011 the she to be the lyricist top top the tune.

“The lyrics came from my one elective in my an initial year in college, civilization religions,” she said. “From the time I could first think, i wondered, ‘what does the remainder of the human being think? I know what these Texas people think , however what’s walk on in the remainder of the world?’ So ns took this civilization religions class, and also I was automatically annoyed in ~ the chatter walking on in the classroom. To take on behaviors, to take on some type of dogma, ns felt defeated the purpose of evolution.

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The song just blossomed indigenous irritation.”

The band broke up a pair years later on without ever before having had another significant hit, but they occasionally regroup to document or pat a one-off show. Brickell has gone on to end up being a respect singer and writer exterior the pop world, winning a Grammy with Martin and also collaborating v him top top the Broadway musical Bright Star.