It’s a few years old – but it’s so funny, and so spot on – please do check it out. It’s hilarious. Biting satire/parody – and beyond that it’s just the perfect attitude; the perfect tone…why do we accept a world to live in where female artists are defined by questionnaires that ponder their make-up and health-care regimes; that wonder how they manage to fit in looking super-fine around breeding. Oh, and making marketable and (therefore) wonderful music on the side.
Aretha Franklin is just about the finest vocalist – and musician – alive. Male/female, it doesn’t matter. She’s just extraordinary – you listen to her at her best and she’s stunning; she blows your mind, she makes you wonder how you ever got through life without/before hearing her. She is that good. And better.
I never questioned Emmylou Harris – when hearing Red Dirt Girl or way back when she was working with Gram. I just listened. I just heard something extraordinary. And beautiful. And wise. And wonderful – her covers album, her live album, her earlier albums that turned country on its ear – I wasn’t measuring those as the work of a female singer/songwriter; I was only ever listening to those – just as I do now – as one of my favourite singers. And performers. She might as well be Neil Young or Bob Dylan. Just as she has sung with both of them. Been a part of some of their best work.
Joni Mitchell? Well you’ll never find a writer and singer and performer better. Just make sure you ignore all those calls that describe her as the female Bob Dylan. She’s so much more than that – and so much more around and beside that, and so much (is) irrelevant to that.
Isn’t it ridiculous that we call the female artists out for being “the female _____” – some version of Bob Dylan or Neil Young or whoever we consider important?
There’s nothing – and nobody – I’ve ever heard in my life that compares to the first time I heard PJ Harvey and Liz Phair and Emmylou Harris and Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone and Karen Dalton and Nicole Atkins and Anita O’Day and so many others.
My favourite female musicians are simply some of my favourite musicians – I’m never really thinking of their gender. I simply think about the music I love. The music that moves me. And so much of it comes from Cyndi Lauper and Suzanne Vega and Natalie Merchant and Sinead O’Connor and Kate Bush and Dory Previn and so many more…
Laura Nyro? Are you kidding me? A legend. A hero.
Kristin Hersh? One of the greats – a writer of prose and songs so good that I’m surprised more people don’t know about her.
Fleetwood Mac? A great band – or several great bands obviously. But don’t look to Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie as eye candy or the token females. They made the post-blues version/s of the band – their songs – and the tension manufactured by them, and through them, was what resonated. They were the reason the band meant something to more than one generation. They are the reason the band is still written about.
Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Kim Gordon’s part in Sonic Youth, Marianne Faithfull, Patti Smith – whatever – and whoever…don’t ever just (or ever) refer to it as female singer/songwriter music – don’t ever call it out for the gender.
I listen to Babes In Toyland because I love music. And I love the music that they make.
Women In Rock issues – or Issues – are not something I care to comment on, or care about. I love music. And if I think it is good it resonates with me. And everyone I’ve named in this post – and so many names outside of this post – keep me listening to so much; keep me on my toes, keep me feeling alive – and happy – for all that music offers me.
Patsy Cline is one of my all time favourites – just as Otis Redding is. Why do you think there is any difference – beyond the genre of music? Why do you think we cover it differently? This is something I have never understood.