Near The Black Forest

Songfacts®:

  • Vanessa Daou is an electronica artist who found success in New York City's underground scene as part of the duo The Daou, with then-husband Peter Daou. In 1994 she released her first solo album, Zipless, based on the poetry of feminist poet/novelist Erica Jong. The singer and the poet not only had an intellectual connection, but a familial one, with Jong being Peter's aunt. The single "Near the Black Forest," based on Jong's poem of the same name, is an exploration of sexual frustration. Daou seductively sings about a lonely house near a black forest where she listens to the clocks ticking outside its walls (a thinly veiled reference to a vagina).
  • The album borrows its title from Jong's controversial 1974 novel, Fear of Flying, which followed the sexual awakening of a married female writer. It also introduced the phrase "zipless f--k" as a euphemism for a no-strings-attached sexual encounter – a definition both Vanessa and Jong view as simplistic. Vanessa explained in a Songfacts interview: "While on its surface it represents an unfettered surrendering to all sexual impulses, I've always interpreted it in a broad, more existential way, reflecting a big embrace of all possibility. To get 'zipless' is a philosophical act, couched as a sexual one."
  • The video, filmed at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, was in hot rotation on VH1's Sex Appeal in the mid-'90s. Vanessa recalled making the dance clip: "I was in awe of the architecture and enthralled by the location, the Queens Hall of Science. My idea behind the video was to merge past and future, portray a mix and clash of cultures - think Mad Max meets the bar scene in Total Recall. The walls of the Queens Museum were undulating and embedded with blue-tinged glass. The experience was a mixture of the surreal and the erotic. We were all swept up in unison, by the rhythm of the music, by the swaying bodies, and by the singular poetry of that awe-inspiring space."
  • "Near The Black Forest" is also the title of a chapter in Jong's Fear of Flying.
  • This was used in the 2004 French film Lila Says, starring Mohammed Khouas and Vahina Giocante.

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