NPR logo DiFranco Still Dodges Traps a Decade Later

DiFranco Still Dodges Traps a Decade Later

'Napoleon' by Ani DiFranco
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Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "Napoleon"
  • Artist: Ani DiFranco
  • CD: Canon
  • Genre: Rock
Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco has spent her entire career living up to the implicit promises that she set down in 1996's "Napoleon." courtesy of Ani DiFranco hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of Ani DiFranco

When Ani DiFranco first released "Napoleon" on 1996's Dilate, her open letter to a fellow singer navigating the thin line between selling out and being heard was shot through with the idealism and naiveté of youth. Even though she was no rookie — it was her seventh studio album in as many years — it was easy enough for DiFranco to blithely insist that she could walk unscathed through the same traps that trip up everybody else.

It's the type of song that can be absolutely unforgiving to any artist who revisits it years after first committing it to tape. But despite the passage of time, the new version on DiFranco's career retrospective Canon only serves to sharpen the bite.

That's because DiFranco has spent her entire career living up to the implicit promises that she set down in "Napoleon." Like Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill," the song still serves as a mission statement, and with the weight of experience behind it, her guitar playing grows claws and the vocals go for blood. Re-recording the song serves as a progress check, re-energizing DiFranco and confirming what she already knew back then: that her choices would leave her with no regrets.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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