Feminism, Pop Culture

On Liz Phair, TLC, and White, Middle-Class Suburban Feminism

This began as a comment on Latoya’s post about Liz Phair over at Feministe, in which she references my Broadsheet post on the re-release of Exile in Guyville. As so often happens, the comment got so damned long I decided to make it a post.

So first, for the record, I actually didn’t (and wouldn’t) call Guyville “The album that made me a feminist.” That was a case of the editor writing the headline and overstating things. But still, Latoya’s post gave me a lot to think about in terms of how I wrote about the album a few months ago and how I responded to it as a teenager.

If I had that post to do over, I’d definitely take out the bit about Phair’s themes being “universal.” It was really a post about my personal response to the album up to that point — and even if trying to extrapolate that to something “universal” weren’t problematic for all the reasons Latoya lays out, it was both a huge stretch and lazy writing. I was trying to figure out as I wrote why Phair’s very personal songs struck me on a very personal level, even though I hadn’t had most of the experiences she was talking about. And it’s because she tapped into a recognizable male-female dynamic that was indeed larger than individual experience — but that’s still a far cry from a “universal” experience. At 18, affluent, white Chicago suburbs just like the one that produced Liz Phair were just about my entire universe — but there’s no excuse for still thinking about it that way at 33.

It’s really interesting for me to consider what people are saying about the brand of anti-consumerism and feminism that grows out of white middle-class suburbs, ’cause… dude, yeah. Another reason Liz Phair went over so big among my friends is that she seemed solidly “alternative” at first — at the time, we automatically eschewed anything popular, because liking it would have threatened our identities as outcasts and misfits. (We’ll set aside the fact that by the time new music got to us, it was usually doing well all over the country, even if it wasn’t mainstream, per se. This was pre-internet [for us], and we were young, so we liked to think we were discovering all this shit.) And of course, in the scheme of things, as white, middle-class people, we were far from outcasts or misfits — but we felt like that within our own communities and thus felt the need to actively reject everything a majority of our peers thought was cool.

Which brings me to TLC, whom Latoya has mentioned in this post and another Feministe guest post as part of her “awakening as a hip-hop feminist.” I also loved them at the time, but I mostly kept that hidden around my friends, because the band was too commercial to be acceptable in my crowd. I slipped “Depend on Myself” onto a few baby feminist mix tapes I made for friends, but if I’d ever tried to play Ooooooohhh… on the TLC Tip at a party, it would have met with a whole lot of “Why the hell are we listening to this Top 40 crap?” 

And the funny thing is, I responded to that album immediately the first time I heard it, but Guyville took several listens before it grew on me. And I only gave it those several listens because I would have felt like an outcast among my merry band of outcasts who weren’t really outcasts if I hadn’t learned to love it. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized I really do love a lot of commercial music (and books and movies) — and although popular shit often is just a bunch of non-threatening mediocrity, it’s also sometimes good stuff (on some level) that represents the wisdom of crowds. But back then, in that white suburban misfit framework, I had to apologize for listening to TLC or lining up for a summer blockbuster. It just wasn’t done. (To give you an idea of how deep this went: Although loving Guyville was de rigueur among my friends, it was not acceptable to love the track “Never Said,” because that one actually got a bit of airplay.)

And in terms of all the frank sexuality shit Phair was constantly lauded for, even then, I would have taken “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” over “Flower,” any day. I never liked “Flower,” still don’t, and am not a big fan of “Glory,” either. (I don’t even want to know about “Hot White Cum.” That one came out way after I stopped listening.) The songs I ended up loving were the faster ones, the less “I’m a girl singing folk songs about blow jobs — isn’t that a scream?” ones. Realistically, the more commercial ones. “6’1″”, “Help Me Mary,” “Divorce Song,” “Mesmerizing” — and yes, “Never Said.” I fucking love “Never Said.” There, I said it.

In retrospect, I can’t believe how ridiculous it was to conceal my love for certain bands and songs just because my friends would have raised their eyebrows, but then, part of the reason I came to love Guyville, and came to see it as an album that influenced my feminism, is because loving it was a community activity, within the angry middle-class white girl community. Ditto Ani Difranco. We didn’t have words for a lot of stuff we were just starting to figure out, but they did, and when we went to a show or sat in a dorm room together and sang along, it felt like we were making a collective statement, even if it was only to each other and the four walls around us. I cracked up when I saw Feministe commenter Crys T’s description of Ani as “what’s-her-name, that musician who set up her own record label in the 90s and all the US-based white feminists worshipped her,” because… yeah again. But when my friend Spillah told me she dedicated “If He Tries Anything” to me on her college radio show, despite the fact that it was an industrial show and I was about 900 miles, ahem, out of range, both the song and the act made me think hard about the power of female friendship — something I’d always taken for granted and, quite honestly, seen as inferior to the male attention I desperately wanted (but was also terrified of). And among other things, listening to Ani made me confront my own homophobia. From the time I was able to understand the concept of fairness, I was theoretically pro-gay rights, but down not-so-deep, I still didn’t want to risk being mistaken for a lesbian, still would have seen that as an insult — which I came face to face with when I hesitated to blast “If It Isn’t Her” or “In or Out” down the hall just as loudly as other songs. There were a lot of little awakenings there for someone who was raised in what was then the most solidly Republican congressional district in Illinois.

Basically, Ani Difranco and Liz Phair helped me take baby steps out of the white, straight, Christian, middle-class, good-girl cocoon I grew up in. They were all about shocking and rejecting the kind of authority figures I’d grown up with, which I didn’t yet realize were a pretty fucking easily scandalized group. They were only baby steps, but I was only a baby — mature for my age in many ways, yes, but still so young and so sheltered. They spoke to me both because I was white and suburban and because I wanted the fuck out of that world.

I’ve been a city girl for over a decade now, and I can’t even imagine going back to the ‘burbs, much less the one I grew up in. But making that transition involved (and still involves) a shitload of unlearning. When I first moved to Toronto (Toronto!!!) I walked around clutching my purse to my chest and waiting to be violently attacked at any moment, because all my life I’d been taught to fear the whole concept of an urban environment — all those people you don’t know everywhere! “All those people who don’t look like us” and “All those poor people” went unspoken, but of course that was at least 75% of the point. When I got to Toronto, I had no idea what cities were really like, I just knew they were the opposite of the suburbs — and I knew the homogeneity, materialism, elitism, entitlement, and female submissiveness that had defined the culture I grew up in were not what I wanted to define my adulthood. Basically, Liz Phair and Ani Difranco were singing “fuck you” to all that at a time when I wasn’t yet ready to do anything but sing along. They were like big sisters who had already moved out, calling home to confirm that yes, Mom and Dad are fucking crazy, and it is way better out here. Even if they’d hardly seen any of the world by then, they’d already seen a lot more than me. 

Would I love Guyville or Imperfectly (the first Ani album I heard) so much if I heard them for the first time now? Almost certainly not. For starters, one of the shitty things about getting older is that new music can almost never set me on fire the way it did in my teens and early twenties. On the plus side, that’s largely because I have seen a lot more now, and found my own words, my own friends and lovers, my own wisdom. I don’t need song lyrics to make me feel like somebody gets me anymore — and I’m already older than a whole lot of current musicians, so the insights they offer are a lot less striking to me, to say the least. I haven’t bought a new album by Liz Phair or Ani Difranco in years, and I’m not particularly sad about having outgrown them. But man, those were the perfect albums at the perfect time in the perfect environment for me back then, and I do miss getting that geeked about new music. 

On the other hand, I just downloaded Ooooooohhh… on the TLC Tip, since my CD of it is long gone, and it’s still pretty damned fun to go back to old music. 

Shapelings, what do you think of all this? What was the music that OMG CHANGED YOUR LIFE when you were young? Do you still like it, or do you cringe looking back? Somewhere in between? Tell me stuff.

158 thoughts on “On Liz Phair, TLC, and White, Middle-Class Suburban Feminism”

  1. And of course, in the scheme of things, as white, middle-class people, we were far from outcasts or misfits — but we felt like that within our own communities and thus felt the need to actively reject everything a majority of our peers thought was cool.

    Erm… *tugs collar, looks around uncomfortably* I’m sure I don’t know anybody like that.

    If I enumerated all the times I denied music I truly loved for fear of not fitting in with whatever little rebellious group I was trying to fit in with at the time, I would have a comment longer than than Hall and Oates’ back catalog. That’s actually one of my favorite things about getting older – I just do not give a fuck anymore about fitting in with any particular subculture. Given my personal history, that is extremely liberating.

    For starters, one of the shitty things about getting older is that new music can almost never set me on fire the way it did in my teens and early twenties. On the plus side, that’s largely because I have seen a lot more now, and found my own words, my own friends and lovers, my own wisdom. I don’t need song lyrics to make me feel like somebody gets me anymore — and I’m already older than a whole lot of current musicians, so the insights they offer are a lot less striking to me, to say the least.

    I’ve noticed this about myself, too, but I hadn’t really thought about why. I just assumed I was heading on a rocket sled into adult contemporary land, but you make a good point. Similar to the idea I was never able to really appreciate Virginia Woolfe until I was older, I was having a conversation with a coworker about how you can’t really fully appreciate Mary J. Blige until you get a little older and have been around the block a few times.

  2. “Crucify” by Tori Amos, off Little Earthquakes. The line “just what God needs, one more victim” completely changed how I perceived myself. There’s being a vulnerable victim or being a strong survivor, and you have to make a choice. God has enough on His mind than to have to deal with me. Still love the album, but mostly for sentimental reasons – it was the soundtrack to my senior year in college.

  3. My freshman-year equivalent was Lisa Germano, who sang about being victimized by men, which I didn’t have much experience with; being weird and shunned, which I totally did; and being kinda crazy, which I also did. Plus she played violin really interestingly, and about forty other instruments to boot, and had instrumentals, which no other albums I was buying at the time did. And I didn’t know anyone else who listened to her, so I was obviously so awesome for knowing about her. Hmm, now I need to go find my old CDs.

  4. They were like big sisters who had already moved out, calling home to confirm that yes, Mom and Dad are fucking crazy, and it is way better out here.

    I fell solidly in love with Springsteen’s song “Independence Day” because it seemed to say what I felt about my dad.

    “Now I don’t know what it always was with us
    We chose the words, and yeah, we drew the lines
    There was just no way this house could hold the two of us
    I guess that we were just too much of the same kind”

    I found that song on Bruce’s live album in 85 or 86, and I hadn’t known any of his pre-Born in the USA music at all. But oh, it was just this amazing recognition that I wasn’t alone.

  5. I FUCKING LIVED for TLC. And though I am nearly 10 years your junior, *I* was afraid to come out about it because, at the time, I was in middle school and COMPLETELY alone. I would have been ostrasized for openly appreciating anything remotely cooler than I was.

    I never got into Liz and Ani–no particular reason why not, but my crew was a.) Mostly male, and b.) Theatre kids…showtunes, ya know?

    And, “His Story” is one of the best ‘up-yours’s that I’ve ever heard.


  6. I think “Little Earthquakes” was the first music I actually liked for itself and for myself. I listened to a bunch of stuff before that and I enjoyed some of it and some of it I just pretended to enjoy, but there was always this ulterior motive – as a teenager, I didn’t listen to music because I liked it, but because the people I liked liked it, and I wanted them to like me. Like you say, it was about putting on an identity rather than just enjoying music.

    But I found Tori Amos before any of my friends did. It was like suddenly coming out of a fog and looking around and saying, “oh, this is me! this is what I like!” It was a liberating moment, the dawning realization that I could listen to whatever the hell I wanted and it didn’t have to matter to anyone but me.

  7. the dawning realization that I could listen to whatever the hell I wanted and it didn’t have to matter to anyone but me.

    Nettle, I am a Springsteen fan in Seattle.

    I understand.

  8. Okay, I love that Tori Amos has already come up a couple of times because she’s a perfect example of someone else that the white baby feminists went batshit for at the time, but whom I never really took to. Though I admit that I enjoyed singing, “God sometimes you just don’t come through/Do you need a woman to look after you?” at the top of my lungs while I was going to a Catholic college.

  9. Shoutout to penguinlady — I feel the EXACT same way about Tori Amos and Little Earthquakes. Perfect background music to my freshman year at Sarah Lawrence, a very feminist school outside NYC.

    I also was addicted to L7’s Bricks are Heavy, and still give that one a spin every now and then. My diet pill is wearing off, indeed!

    Music is amazing in its ephermal permanence. For example, while most people write off disco music as a trifle in a trifling decade, I hear a bold statement of defiance and liberation!

    It seems that these experiences with music go beyond the basic mechanics of melody and harmony. They become indeliably linked to personal and social experiences, and its power cannot be disavowed.

  10. That’s actually one of my favorite things about getting older – I just do not give a fuck anymore about fitting in with any particular subculture. Given my personal history, that is extremely liberating.

    Oh, hell yes.

  11. My biggest lifechanger music was probably REM. I remember seeing them perform “Driver 8” in MTV in what… 1983 or 84? and being like “Whatever that is, I want more of it.” I was a massive REM fangirl from then until, oh probably Automatic for the People, which is the last album they released that really resonated with me. I still listen to AftP and everything prior on a fairly regular basis, though.

    Second biggest would be The Smiths. I bought The Queen Is Dead without having ever heard it (I must have read about it somewhere, as this was pre-internet) and I still remember thinking how crazy and wonderful it was. I also still remember how the cassette tape smelled (kind of like the cheesesteak wrappers at the lunch counter next to the hospital where my mom worked).

    What I think I missed out on the most was Freestyle (Shannon, Expose, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam) because it’s totally fucking awesome and would have been way better to listen to while driving around in cruising circles than, like, The Cure (who are awesome, don’t get me wrong, but it made our weekend cruising really moody and introspective when I now believe that such endeavors should be buoyant and joyous).

  12. Growing up, Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” album was quite an eye-opener for my 16 year old self.

    I had to deal with a lot of anger while I was growing up and listened to a lot of hard rock/metal to somehow channel my feelings, but all of the bands I listened were exclusively male. For me, Alanis was the first female singer that wasn’t afraid to be angry and strong and sing about feminist topics (even if a lot was, in retrospect, feminism light).

    I still enjoy listening to that album, even though it doesn’t really represent me any more.

  13. My Big Musical Discovery in high school was, um, the Beatles. I didn’t listen to a lot of pop music because I was a classical music nerd, but I got over it by early college and started listening to the Cure and David Bowie — twenty years too late, as this was in the early 2000s, but whatever. At least I’m not emo.

    I love a good deal of suburban white feminists (Ani, Tori, Dar Williams, the Nields, the Indigo Girls — what I also affectionately refer to as ‘lesbian music’) as well. And, uh, En Vogue. TLC, yeah, “Waterfalls”, because I wasn’t embarrassed to admit that I watched MTV occasionally (at other people’s houses), but I was weirdly counterculture. Y’know? Too busy listening to Beethoven to have tastes in indie music.

    Why do I feel like I need to prove that I listen to music that isn’t by suburban white people? Good lord; I grew up listening to jazz and 60s and 70s funk; Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind, and Fire was the soundtrack of my childhood (again, ten years late — I was born in ’82). I didn’t NEED to discover that stuff in high school or college, because I already listened to it daily.

    Oh well.

  14. Tori Amos totally was a godsend for me, not entirely for feminist reasons (though partly), but also because I was coming to terms that the fact that I actually had artistic aspirations made other people think I was this adorably precocious lunatic. Which is pretty much exactly what Tori has always been. I was also really into anyone who sang about (what I didn’t know to call) queerness, whether explicitly (Ani, Indigo Girls) or obliquely (Tori, R.E.M., The Smiths).

    I don’t need song lyrics to make me feel like somebody gets me anymore — and I’m already older than a whole lot of current musicians, so the insights they offer are a lot less striking to me, to say the least.

    What I’ve been finding is that lyrics I used to love read reeeeally differently to me now that I’m an adult. [FJ and Lynne will recognize the following rambling from my personal LJ.] A few months ago, I got the R.E.M. song “Nightswimming” in my head and had to listen to it for a day straight. It’s always been one of my favorites, but I had an incredibly clear feeling of change when I heard it this time. When I was a teenager and it came out, I loved the sense of gentle danger in the story, the way the nightswimming makes the world numinous in an irreplaceable way. But when I listen to it now, I hear the frame narrative of the song; I recognize it in a way that makes me feel like I never even heard it before.

    It’s not like years ago,
    The fear of getting caught,
    Of recklessness and water
    They cannot see me naked
    These things, they go away,
    Replaced by every day

    I fucking bawled when I realized that this song which has meant so much to me is also about nostalgia, adulthood, and the banality of everyday life. Holy shit. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me?

    This is also pretty much exactly how I felt when I reread Mrs Dalloway last year.

  15. Not to be all snotty, but what’s with the assumption that if you’re white and feminist that you must have grown up with money, or at least “comfortably middle class?”

    And this isn’t aimed AT you, but rather this is the millionth time I’ve seen the generalization about “middle class white feminists” as though that’s the monolith of white feminism. As though po’ white trash feminists don’t exist.

    It gets a touch alienating. But I don’t know what I’m trying to accomplish here, maybe just letting you know that some of us who were raised on a steady diet of tuna casserole and hot dogs cut up in mac and cheese have embraced feminism, were in fact raised feminist by mothers with blue collar backgrounds who saw that the only way to improve the lot of all women was to embrace feminism and teach her daughters that they could do anything they wanted regardless of gender.

    Sorry, I know this is slightly off topic, but my hackles have been raised by this for some time. Not trying to hijack the thread, honestly.

  16. OH Karin! That is another good example! I would have been MORTIFIED if my dirty punk rocker college friends knew I secretly loved Alanis Morissette. I totally suppressed my feelings about that album until about three years ago when “All I Really Want” came on in a Starbucks (I KNOW RIGHT???) where I was having a coffee while I waited for my husband to get a haircut and I had this epiphany moment: this is a good fucking song.

  17. Ooh, Alanis! That’s a whole other story. By the time JLP came out, I was already crazy about Liz and Ani, and I rejected her on “too popular” grounds and “Look up ‘irony,’ dumbass” grounds. (In fact, her popularity was what made me realize that Hot Young Angry White Chick was a disturbingly marketable commodity to men, which squicked me.) BUT. The summer of ’95, I was a camp counselor with a cabin full of 14-year-old girls, and they were apeshit for Alanis. That album was our constant soundtrack in the cabin, and I grew to love it in large part because I saw how it worked on them just the way Guyville had worked on me.

    I also, of course, demanded that they listen to Liz Phair and Ani Difranco and made converts out of all of them. But I do have a major soft spot for Alanis because I suspect she did provide the first feminist click for a whole hell of a lot more young girls than Liz Phair did at the time.

    And yes, I too, would have been mortified if any of my friends from home knew I really did like her at the time.

  18. From my first record purchase at 7ish (Blondie’s “Tide is High”) to discovering the 10,000 Maniacs in junior high to loving Bruce Springsteen in college (long after my mom seemingly tortured me always wanting to listen to him), I just love strong lyrics. As I get older, I am finally also starting to embrace music that sounds good – damn the lyrics. Right now, I am loving the Mamma Mia! soundtrack – totally inexplicable because I am not really into that kind of stuff, but it’s so fun. As Kate said, music doesn’t hold quite the same “power” that it once did because I don’t need somebody else to give voice to whatever I am going through, but I do still get struck pretty deep by powerful lyrics (current obsession: “The Beauty Way” written by Eliza Gilkyson and covered by Ray Wylie Hubbard). I had never heard of Liz Phair until much later in life, maybe because my own musical taste really reflects my own white, working poor background.

  19. And to be less rambly, I was only semi-aware when I was in high school that in the group of misfits I belonged to, the aversion to hip-hop music was racially charged. I went (at first) to a big, suburban, mostly white high school in the age of grunge music, and there was this mostly unspoken sense that white teenagers who liked and identified with hip-hop were poseurs (and beneath that, of course, the sense that whatever music you publicly liked said something about your very soul). Now I recognize that dismissal — that the white kids were poseurs for liking “black” music — as a kind of racial policing. I look back on that now and wonder how many of those “poseurs” were also trying to escape mentally from suburbia, and what their relationship to music and race was. I just don’t know. When I moved and ended up at a more racially diverse school, the sense of music-subculture-based tribes didn’t seem as strong — but again in retrospect it might be that I just didn’t know how to “read” the kinds of alliances that were at play.

  20. GGR, I took the point of Kate’s post to be anti-universalizing, about the belated realization that what felt to a younger her like feminism, period, was actually a really specifically socioeconomically located phenomenon — not that there aren’t white feminists who aren’t middle class, but rather that she now knows that the way she personally experienced feminism as a young woman *was* through a white, suburban, specifically middle-class lens.

  21. I think Alanis continues to put out really good, strong music that reflect the changes that she has gone through in her life. Although I sort of rejected her early on as being too popular as well, each new release right up to her latest “Flavors of Entanglement” have been pretty beautiful and personal, and seem to match my own evolving self.

    geekgirlsrule – I know where you’re coming from.

  22. Not all white people are middle class or suburban, as geekgirl so eloquently said.

    My own growing-up life-changing-music thingies were the Talking Heads, Prince, and Elvis Costello. And Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, whom I fell in love with from the record collection my much older cousin left behind when he headed to California in 1968. ;)

  23. Sorry, I know this is slightly off topic, but my hackles have been raised by this for some time. Not trying to hijack the thread, honestly.

    Totally not a hijack, geekgirlsrule! I’ve never seen it as an assumption that all white feminists are middle-class (which is probably, of course, because I am, so I don’t see how alienating that is) — but rather as generalizing about the middle-class subset of white feminists who have tended to dominate feminist discourse for a long damned time, and who have major blind spots about both race and class.

    Honestly, I don’t love hearing about “white middle-class feminists,” either, because it’s usually in the context of getting my ass handed to me. And that’s another reason why I’ve never thought of references to that group as alienating — because I’d love to distance myself from a lot of those references, even though I can’t. But it’s absolutely true that when people (including me) use “white feminists” as a shorthand for “white, middle-class feminists,” that’s just perpetuating the idea that white, middle-class women are the default feminists, and everybody who doesn’t fit all three of those categories is Other. Thank you for pointing that out.

    ETA: I just edited the post to add an extra “middle-class” qualifier right up front, which will hopefully make it more clear that I’m talking about white, middle-class people specifically, as opposed to just equating white with middle-class.

  24. I totally refused to admit that I liked Alanis until my girlfriend in college listened to her all the time and I could no longer deny it. I am trying hard not to divide things into regular pleasures and guilty pleasures anymore, unlike my younger self!

  25. I was only semi-aware when I was in high school that in the group of misfits I belonged to, the aversion to hip-hop music was racially charged. I went (at first) to a big, suburban, mostly white high school in the age of grunge music, and there was this mostly unspoken sense that white teenagers who liked and identified with hip-hop were poseurs (and beneath that, of course, the sense that whatever music you publicly liked said something about your very soul)

    See, the people I hung out with were the poseurs. :) The aversion to TLC was because they were “cheesy” — but gangsta rap was appropriately anti-authoritarian, so we all had albums by Public Enemy, Ice-T and NWA, to pretend we actually knew shit about shit. Every bit as fucked up in terms of race and class, but it wasn’t that we wanted to avoid black musicians — it was that we wanted to co-opt their experiences, to go along with the outcast identity. Yes, the charitable interpretation is that we were indeed trying to mentally escape suburbia, but that doesn’t change the fact that we were complete jackasses about it.

  26. I adored Hole. When I was in high school, all of my guy friends were crazy for Nirvana. I loved Nirvana too, but when “Live Through This” came out, it was a revelation. ‘Courtney is surrounded by whiny grungy guys too! It’s like she KNOWS me.’ Plus, the album kicks ass.

  27. Okay, so I’m still young . . . but my favorite band, The Mountain Goats, changed my life about 3 years ago. Not for feminist reasons – they’re just the most amazing band I have ever heard in my life, and okay, I needed the Alpha Couple songs at that point because my parents were going through a pretty bad divorce that was involving my sister and me to an unhealthy degree. Plus, they’re just the best band ever. Ever.

    I have a feeling, though that I’m getting to that point where I don’t need music to affect me that way anymore, though. I haven’t bought anything but Mountain Goats albums in years. My music-obsessed partner introduces me to new bands, and no matter how good they are, I’m very “meh” about it all. I agree, I’m past the point of needing to be understood. I’ve found who I am, and I don’t really need a soundtrack anymore.

    Back when I was REALLY young, Paula Cole’s “This Fire” was my sort of “aha” moment. My overprotective mom bought it for me due to the radio-friendly “I Don’t Want to Wait,” but when I first listened to it, I knew I had to play it quietly for fear she would discover that Paula Cole was not so mainstream as she thought. The opening track, “Tiger,” so perfectly represented how I WANTED to feel and be. I was growing up in the suburbs, very overprotective, lots of constraints on my life. and I wanted to be the narrator in that song so desperately, and be allowed to express that anger and freedom.

    I put “This Fire” away through most of college and grad school, but actually started listening to it again just for the heck of it. It’s a totally different perspective now. Now I sort of am that narrator in “Tiger.” It’s definitely not literal, but it’s interesting to see that I became what I wanted, even though when I was 12, I really couldn’t articulate what I wanted – I could just hear it in a song.

  28. Pink and Savage Garden. Savage Garden as a kid, Pink in high school; specifically, the songs “Affirmation” (hey, you mean I’m not a bleeding heart like Daddy says?), “Crash and Burn” (you’ll really be there for me? Promise?), and “I Don’t Know You Anymore” (alienation from my family; even in elementary school it was a big thing for me); few years later when their second album came out, I was all about “To the Moon and Back” (I WILL fly away, try and stop me), and “Promises” (which I didn’t really get, but somehow it got to me).

    Pink, it was her I’m Not Dead album, my senior year of high school. I was deeply depressed, dealing with my uncertain sexuality and the aftermath of being raped by a guy friend and keeping both secret because I was certain my dad would hate me. “Runaway,” “Long Way to Happy,” “Dear Mr. President,” and “Conversations With My 13-Year-Old Self” got me through my senior year and my gap year before college. And really, I’m in my second year of college now, second year away from home, and doing so much better.

    I still adore Savage Garden, and Darren Hayes as a solo artist, and have everything they’ve ever recorded; as for Pink, I was never really a fan, but I listen to I’m Not Dead and thank her a little bit for getting me through two bad years.

  29. Kateharding: Thanks, it’s just something that gets bandied about so much that it makes me crazy. I think the growing up poor is where my Marxist streak comes from.

    As for the music that OMG! changed my life… Um, Metallica “Master of Puppets,” Slayer’s “Reign in Blood” and Madonna… I think I’m a little older than some of you. But seeing Madonna just be unabashedly sexy and NOT the back-up dancer or singer to GUYS really tripped something for me. In fact she had male back-up dancers… they followed her lead. That was awesome.

    Do I cringe when I think about my earlier devotion to Madonna? A little. But you have to respect her business sense. She knows just how far to push it to create controversy to spur sales, but not so far as to make herself unsaleable. She’s good at jobbing the system.

  30. The first band that really made me go “ohhhhholyshit” is Nine Inch Nails. When “Pretty Hate Machine” came out, it served as perfect musical accompaniment to the enormous amount of anger and sadness I was carrying around with me. I was 17-18 years old and fucking furious at the world and grief-stricken over having my heart broken and “Something I Can Never Have” was played over and over again. (And still is, really.)

    Since then, NIN seems to have a knack for releasing records perfectly timed to borderline disastrous moments (emotionally speaking) in my life. Which, if I didn’t dig Trent Reznor so much, I just might be pissed off about. I’m still a major NINnerd all these years later (coming up on 20).

    As for woman artists that really rang my bell in a big way? I’m on the Tori Amos train. With a generous helping of of Bonnie Raitt. And good GRAVY, “Live Through This” by Hole.

  31. When I was in 7th grade (97-98) I discovered No Doubt and had the album Tragic Kingdom in heavy rotation. Gwen Stefani pretty much rocked my world back in the day. I also started listenting to a lot of heavy rock as well as alternative, punk, and ska. Rock music in general seemed to speak to a lot of the crazy emotional stuff I was going through at the time.

  32. Do I cringe when I think about my earlier devotion to Madonna? A little. But you have to respect her business sense. She knows just how far to push it to create controversy to spur sales, but not so far as to make herself unsaleable. She’s good at jobbing the system.

    I’ve never been a huge fan of Madonna’s music (although I am partial towards the “Ray of Light” album for some inexplicable reason), but I’ve always respected her as a businessperson and entertainer. She’s impressive, and sometimes I want to listen to her music just because of her business sense.

  33. Music doesn’t capture me at all, actually, unless there is a thumping beat and I am dancing. In this way, I am the opposite of my partner.

    That said, in high school, I’d say it was Yaz, Upstairs at Eric’s.

  34. Yes to Ani, Liz, and Tori. All of the above were my OMG favorite thing ever in high school. But there were others, too.

    Like Lush, The Usuals, The Replacements, Blake Babies, The Breeders, Eve’s Plum, 10,000 Maniacs, and REM.

    I still listen to most of those albums. But I like that I’ve branched out in my old age (not actually that old, just feels that way) So, yes, I’m loving Martha Wainwright, another angry folky white girl with a guitar, but I’m also loving that a friend of mine has turned me on to Ms. Dynamite and M.I.A., that my brother has me listening to Kanye West (and drinking gin, for that matter) and I can’t believe I ever missed Rachid Taha, Ice Cube, or Citizen Cope. There’s even some country music I like, and I thought for sure the world would end before that happened.

    Yay for no specific subculture!

  35. Hilariously (because I have been a musician for most of my life), I don’t know that music was ever really all that illuminating for me, except in an experiential way (performance is like a drug).

    Oooh, except for Don McLean’s “Vincent,” which gave me a love of all things Van Gogh, and some kind of weird insight about being misunderstood. It’s not feminist, but it totally knocked me on my metaphorical ass.

  36. SM, I think I need to really listen to “Nightswimming” again. I had the same perception of it when I was a wee thing. I had a similar experience hearing “World Leader Pretend” again a few years ago. It has a different connotation from a grown up perspective.

  37. calixti – Yes! Pink and Savage Garden were both really important to me – I think we’re about the same age so it makes sense.
    Savage Garden I think at least in part of the hint of queer sexuality at a time when I was semi- sub consciously coming to terms with my bisexuality.
    I remember Pink got a lot of stick over ‘Stupid Girls’, and yeah, she arguably screwed up feminism-wise there, but to me she completely redeemed her self with songs like ‘Dear Mr President’.

    Also, Tracy Chapman was another one of my obsessions, and is still one of my favourites.

  38. Heh, this amuses me as I today have been listening to one song on repeat which gives me that feeling (as I’m only 19 I’m sure it will be one I think back on) Wicked Girls Saving themselves by
    Seanan McGuire who I love and like many of my favourite musicians is someone I personally know who is not a proffessional musician. An amazing song for anyone unsatisfied with the way women in stories like The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia end up. Another big one there is talis Kimberley.

    As for people more than a couple of thousand of people have heard of, Tori definately for me is one. I loved TLC but never thought about them in a feminist way…

  39. nin through high school, also pink, alanis.
    now (for the past couple of years) tori amos has opened up the other side.

  40. The music that didn’t really change but certainly influence my life (and I still love) was all things Radiohead. Not for any good, empowering, feminist reason but contrarily because I found it to be extremely self loathing, like me for much of my youth. (Yes, I loved to wallow).

    In the interim, I got really angry and fell in love with Saves the Day, Alkaline Trio, and Hot Water Music.

  41. Once again I feel super young, because my big “Aha!” moments was with… Gwen Stefani. “Just A Girl” was such a big fucking deal for me, I can’t even begin to describe it. Tori and Liz came later, when I was in college. But Gwen was what it was all about. Tragic Kingdom was the first CD I bought and played till I wore holes in it. Also Alanis and Fiona Apple. I still love Fiona to death, actually. She was perfect for the lonely-tragic-angst I thought I had going.

  42. Yorke, given your name and your comment, I hope you’ll forgive me, but Radiohead is on the long list of bands that I Just Don’t Get What the Fuss Is About. Around the time period discussed in this post, “Creep” was so fucking overplayed, I wrote them off as a Boring Popular Band (though I secretly liked the song) — and then, ten years later, they suddenly became The Most Amazing Artists in Existence, according to nearly all of my friends, but I’m just not feeling it. I like them fine, I just don’t understand what makes them so much more groundbreaking and brilliant than a dozen other angsty British bands.

    A friend’s husband — a guy in his thirties — once told me with a straight fucking face that if I don’t get the brilliance of Radiohead, it can only be because I “haven’t suffered enough.” I’m thinking it’s more like I just don’t love to wallow enough. :)

  43. No U2 fans out there? WAR was a big one for me in high school. Oh, and the Cars. Their first album is brilliant.

    College: Pink Floyd stole my soul for at least 3 years. And then there was INXS. Go figure.

    College break: Indigo Girls (eponymous album). God, I wore that tape (not cd) out.

    College, round 2: Late in the game I discovered REM. (Although I can remember blasting “Superman” in my house in high school….)

  44. Yo Kate –

    Good post. It is interesting to see how different things affect us as we grow older.

    For starters, one of the shitty things about getting older is that new music can almost never set me on fire the way it did in my teens and early twenties.

    Tell me about it. I still get the shivers sometimes, but it’s something really deep, like finally understanding a Prince lyric or discovering Skin from Skunk Anansie. A lot of the stuff I listen to now is hold over – songs that hold memories from high school or college, or artists who keep reinventing themselves (like Van Hunt) so I am compelled to keep listening.

    In reference to this though:

    If I had that post to do over, I’d definitely take out the bit about Phair’s themes being “universal.” It was really a post about my personal response to the album up to that point — and even if trying to extrapolate that to something “universal” weren’t problematic for all the reasons Latoya lays out, it was both a huge stretch and lazy writing. I was trying to figure out as I wrote why Phair’s very personal songs struck me on a very personal level, even though I hadn’t had most of the experiences she was talking about. And it’s because she tapped into a recognizable male-female dynamic that was indeed larger than individual experience — but that’s still a far cry from a “universal” experience. At 18, affluent, white Chicago suburbs just like the one that produced Liz Phair were just about my entire universe — but there’s no excuse for still thinking about it that way at 33.

    I was really careful when I wrote that post to make sure that it didn’t come across as “if you like Liz Phair, you suck!” That wasn’t the point at all.

    I came across a ringing endorsement about an album from a whole lot of women I liked, and I was kind of bummed when I didn’t like it. If that album lit your teenage world up, awesome. Don’t apologize for that.

    The point of my piece was to not lose sight that *everyone* doesn’t necessarily interpret or interact with the world the same way. So the problem I have isn’t necessarily “Liz Phair made this awesome feminist album!” but when people say “Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville is the album that defined all of girldom in the 1990s.”* My girldom didn’t look like that or sound like that. So as long as we realize this, and not try to co-opt any one thing as “the one true soundtrack for feminism” everything is gravy.

    *Obvs, you didn’t say that. Some one else did, in one of the pieces I read while prepping the post.

  45. Heh. I think you nailed, it! I believe the love is firmly in the wallowing!

    For example:

    Limb by limb, tooth by tooth
    Tearing up inside of me
    Every day, every hour
    I wish that I was bullet proof

    Wax me, mould me
    Heat the pins and stab them in
    You have turned me into this…

    Yeah, definitely paradise for whiners. So I definitely forgive you (and my husband…. and my BFF who consistently remind me they aren’t in on the fuss, either). And your friend’s husband sounds unintentionally hilarious!

  46. I was really careful when I wrote that post to make sure that it didn’t come across as “if you like Liz Phair, you suck!” That wasn’t the point at all.

    Oh, I didn’t think it was! And I’m not apologizing for liking her here — just placing that in context, which is something I’d never thought to do before.

    ETA: I just got that maybe you thought I was apologizing/taking offense because I said “There’s no excuse for thinking about it that way at 33” — and what I meant was, there’s no excuse for still thinking about my 18-year-old universe as THE universe at 33. (If that wasn’t the point of confusion, never mind.)

  47. @Nomie –

    Once again I feel super young, because my big “Aha!” moments was with… Gwen Stefani. “Just A Girl” was such a big fucking deal for me, I can’t even begin to describe it.

    We must be about the same age then, because I have the same memory. It was the first cassette I bought with my own money (and later, the first CD when my sister destroyed the cassette), it was the first CD that *all* my friends would listen to (and that says a lot because we were drastically different), it was my introduction into rock music, and it was the beginning of the falling out I would have with my mother about listening to “white girl music.”

    Something I left out of the piece that Kate linked to was that while most of the girls I emailed hadn’t heard of Liz Phair, we were *all* rocking to Tragic Kingdom. We’re trying to figure out what that says about our merry multi-racial multi-continental band.

  48. Hands down, Tori Amos. Her music saved me. She’s still the only artist that I would go to the ends of the earth for.

  49. I have always had a distaste for whatever is popular, too, and I’m just not sure where it came from. It really wasn’t peer pressure – I think I did it to myself. I had friends who either loved top-40 pop or liked “alternative” bands, neither of which I liked, probably because they were so popular. Maybe even though those people were my friends, I associated popular things with the other kids who ostracized and teased me. Like the back-of-the-bus bullies who pressured the bus driver to play the radio station playing nothing but Pearl Jam every single day. It made me hate all that shit. (Note: now I have a healthy respect for Pearl Jam. Because I’m not surrounded by obnoxious junior high school kids singing it all the goddamn time.) I was really happy to like the “classic rock” (i kind of hate that term) I grew up hearing all the time – I was never very conflicted about liking and hanging out with my parents. My own personal rebellious thing was getting way into Queen in junior high.

    In college I basically had to learn to stop being embarrassed of myself for liking music – I had no confidence about how my tastes would be perceived. It persisted enough that I could barely bring myself to admit I liked anything to anyone – either because it was too popular, or because it was too unpopular. I still have some problems with this. But college did a lot to help me learn that it was okay to like mainstream pop (BNL!) and chick music (Sarah MacLachlan!) and hip hop and even some country, though I didn’t come to terms with that until later (I also came from a town where the white kids swore up and down that they just hated rap (ugh), and everyone talked about how much they hated country music). And then I had to relearn that it was okay not to like stuff my friends did! I tried really hard to like Tori, because SM loved her so she must have been awesome! But it just never clicked for me for some reason. Bjork too, actually. (Sorry SM!!)

    Since college I’ve gone hard-core folkie. My dad is delighted I think the rest of my family thinks it’s cute but weird or they’re just flat-out horrified. It’s pretty funny.

  50. KATE I hear you about Radiohead. I tried really hard with them, too. I thought I was the only one who didn’t get it!

  51. I discovered Rent when I was 14, and almost immediately fell in love. To this day I can’t quite describe why I love it so much, but I do know that music/show is very intimately wrapped up with who I am.

    And I definitely hear you on hiding your preferences from friends because of what’s socially acceptable. Characteristic of my love of Rent, I’m a big musical geek, and I’m getting into opera. Despite being 24, I’m still ashamed of this and automatically assume everyone will ridicule me for my geeky tastes in music. I’m getting over it, but it has been crippling in the past.

  52. Oh and I just want to say something about Ani. I didn’t listen to her because everyone else was listening to her (see above). And every time I hear one of her songs, I love it. So clearly, I missed out on having that when it was current and when it really might have resonated with me at a younger age. And to this day I never got around to buying any, so I still don’t know her music.

    The more I think about this, the more it seems like the reason I felt this way was always about a lack of confidence in my own opinions. I didn’t want anyone to KNOW I liked something they liked, because… hell, I have no idea why. It’s always been that way, though.

  53. @Latoya: Thanks for reminding me of Skunk Anansie! I adored them and their songs!

    I liked No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom, but it didn’t really touch me the way that other albums and artists did. Additionally, Gwen Stefani’s voice gets on my nerves pretty quickly, so I can only listen to one, max. 2 songs.

    @Kirsten: I’m just starting to really “get” Tracy Chapman; I’ve always liked her songs, but now I really understand them.

  54. Icehouse. The Australian band. Their ‘Man of Colours’ album came out when I was 12 and I listened to it until the tape wore out! They kind of had a sound halfway between Aussie Pub Rock, and David Bowie and Depeche Mode’s love child. Iva Davies was always a bit mopey and sensitive-artiste so it worked for me for a few years.

    I liked Alanis for a while when I was 18 but shortly afterwards had a large CD collection of Nine Inch Nails, Sisters of Mercy, KMFDM, Depeche Mode, New Order, Dead can Dance, etc. And assorted classical music, because most of it’s GAF. ;) Especially Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Variations on a theme of Thomas Tallis. That one gets me every single time.

  55. Umm . . . The Toadies. Not because they were exceptionally good, or because their music made some kind of statement. But they were from Fort Worth, and they had songs in movies and stuff. They were famous, super famous locally, but they hung out like regular people (they all looked like middle school teachers, too. Which I thought was pretty awesome.)

    Also, in my group, we completely rejected country music for the same reason y’all are talking about rejecting popular music. It was a long time before I could embrace my love for Dolly Parton, and the Dixie Chicks, and the entire Outlaw country genre, because I had to overcome that big hair, big belt buckle stigma.

  56. I have to get on the Tori bandwagon. For whatever reason, probably internalized sexism, I’ve avoided the female artists like Ani, Bjork, and Tori. Just now I’ve started listening to them, and I adore Tori Amos. Notably, From the Choirgirl Hotel is really helping me get through my recurrent pregnancy loss.

    I still don’t like Ani DiFranco.

    And are there any other Doors fans in here?

  57. No U2 fans out there? WAR was a big one for me in high school.

    I was actually a big U2 fangirl in my early adolescence — in distinct opposition to the other artists who understood my oh so tortured existence, listening to U2 actually made me feel connected with the world at large. They made me like people in a sort of humanist way. Still do, actually. The sweeping grandiosity of their music (and their self-presentation), which I know some people find pretentious, has always felt really life-affirming for me.

  58. And see, I was so embarrassed I only JUST TOLD YOU THIS! But you introduced me to Peter Mulvey, and now I’m a huge fangirl. Oh, and Dar – you probably didn’t realize that, because I COULDN’T TELL YOU I WAS INTERESTED, but you were the first person I knew you listened to her! And she’s my other fave!

    I’m not sure if the friendship fail is that I don’t like them (I tried! I swear!!) or that I can’t tell my friends what music I like!

  59. I know you’re kidding! But I’m such a weirdo!

    Also, I don’t HATE any of them. It just doesn’t do much for me.

    Uh oh. I’m still a fashion loser. I’m better than I used to be, at least!

  60. I think Tori Amos and Kate Bush helped me realize that losing my religion would not kill me in a nuclear-blaze sort of way. Little Earthquakes was shattering to me, and I have everything Tori has ever done.

    I also love U2, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, John Lee Hooker. I adore Aretha Franklin.

    I have really gotten out of the music habit because my girlfriend of 13 years is just not a music fan or a music collector. She did make me love Rage Against the Machine. “Auction Block” is genius and “Broken Man” is my girlfriend’s autobiography.

    Oddly enough, she loves the musical “Wicked.” One I saw the musical — and listened to the cast recording 1,000 times, it hit me. Wicked is about a girl who is the wrong freaking color. I don’t know why I never saw it before.

  61. I’m old. I grew up in a city with two radio stations – CBC and country. The first music I bought was a Tom Petty tape.

    I have sucked all the coolness out of the room. My work is done.

  62. Sniper, I haven’t known that many huge Tom Petty fans, but most of the ones I have known were ex-boyfriends. (That’s why they’re exes! Noooo I’m kidding.)

  63. Kate: A friend’s husband — a guy in his thirties — once told me with a straight fucking face that if I don’t get the brilliance of Radiohead, it can only be because I “haven’t suffered enough.

    I love Radiohead, but that explanation has to be one of the most pompous things I have ever read. Was he wearing a beret and smoking cloves when he said it?

    Who else did I love? Jane’s Addiction a wicked bunch. My love for Jane’s made being able to touch Perry Farrell at Lollapalooza last month just the kick-assingest. As for U2, I love them now, but back in ’87-’88 when they were “Joshua Tree”-ing all over the place? Ugh. Couldn’t stand them. It took them sleazing it up with “Achtung Baby” to capture my heart.

  64. BIKINI KILL, julie ruin, and to a smaller extent, le tigre all involve riot grrrl feminist Kathleen Hanna, who is so body-positive, and wonderfully in-your-face about allll types of issues from racism to being on welfare to being an incest survivor.
    bikini kill is FULL of screaming so beware. but le tigre is good for those who like something more melodic.

  65. My love for Jane’s made being able to touch Perry Farrell at Lollapalooza last month just the kick-assingest.

    Just to reinforce the “I’m old” theme here, I’d like to point out that I saw Jane’s at the first Lollapalooza.

  66. Kirsten – I was, like, seriously a kid when I first fell in love with Savage Garden. I’m talking, Disney Channel when they still showed cartoons in the afternoon and the So Weird era, before and during the time they had those weird little monster/machine/whatever characters (I can’t remember what they were called, but their name started with a Z). I was in middle school when they split up, and I CRIED LIKE A BABY until I found out Darren had gone solo in high school (at which point I cried again–tears of joy that time).

    Of course, my first crush was when I was seven, and it was on a pretty girl in the other second-grade class, so I suspect the hint of queer sexuality may have had something to do with it, even if I didn’t realise Darren Hayes was gay until he announced his civil partnership. ^^;

  67. OK — confession time … early on I was a horribly sexist music fan in that I tended to stay away from the lady singers. Give me Elvis (both of them) the Beatles, Kinks, Smiths, Neil Finn, Replacements, Husker Du, U2 etc.

    The lady who started to turn me around years ago was Jane Siberry. “Taxi Ride” anyone? That one used to move me to tears. And Patsy Cline. She just sounded like a grown woman singing about some real life feelings. And Emmy Lou, and Patty Griffin and … and ….

    As a lot of people have already said, it is ironic that as I get older and my inhibitions about what to like fall away that there seems to be little new material that totally turns me on. One gigantic exception to that rule is Rufus Wainwright, who just amazes me and routinely takes my breath away with his beautiful music.

  68. I can only remember being obsessed with a couple of artists/bands in my younger years. Tori sucked me in back in grade nine — my parents actually bought me Little Earthquakes, and I followed her pretty passionately for years. I found a musically similar artist a few years ago, Hannah Fury — her songs based on Wicked (the book) are so much better than the musical, and everything else is equally wonderful. I can’t listen to “I Can’t Let You In” without tearing up.

    My ongoing obsession, though, has been Cowboy Junkies. It took twenty years of fangirlness for me to catch up to them in concert this summer, and the way their songs touch me is consistent in degree, if wildly varied in the specifics.

    Oddly enough, I didn’t discover Ani or Liz until I was in my mid-20s, but I still fell in love. I was heavily involved with The Vagina Monologues (College Campaign) at that point, which may explain a thing or two.

    I do, however, remember Alanis as a pop princess. Hee! Her repackaging was right at the end of high school for me — or maybe just after.

  69. Oh, I was al over the Ani/Tori/Dar/Indigo Girls thing. Sarah McLachlan, too. Dude, Lilith Fair was while I was in high school. I still have my t-shirts. “Elsewhere” was *everything* to me at that age:

    oh, the quiet child
    awaits the day that she can break free
    from the mold that clings like desperation
    mother, can’t you see I’ve got live my life the way I feel is right for me
    might not be right for you but it’s right for me

    I wouldn’t say I’m *over* it, exactly…. I still like them. But in a different sort of way, and as part of a larger selection of music. And I don’t need to make those statements, to do that kind of separation from my parents or mark myself as outcast (which, I’m aware, this music doesn’t really do, anyway, but that was my perception). It just can’t be as important at 26 as it was at 14.

  70. The lady who started to turn me around years ago was Jane Siberry…

    Mimi on the beach! Mimi on the beach! Mimi on the beeeeeeeech!

  71. I recently got back into Ani Difranco and I actually love her more now than I did as a teenager. I think I’ve outgrown Tori Amos a little though…. I still like to listen to some of my old Tori cds but I don’t love them like I did when I was younger.

  72. Cindy, if you haven’t read the book “Wicked” yet, you might really love it. The fact that she’s really just the wrong color, and therefore misunderstood is, I think, a bit of a stronger theme in the book. And there’s some really deep thinky stuff about animals vs. Animals (the regular kind vs the kind that talk) that has some really huge implications vis a vis double standards and such crap, and Glinda/Galinda’s persona backstory reads like a statement on classism. It’s utterly and completely awesome.

    As are several of Gregory Maguire’s other books. Notably “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” which will completely throw you for a loop. I liked “Mirror, Mirror” and “Son of a Witch” Okay, but Stepsister and Wicked are the shit.

  73. It was mostly Tori Amos and the Indigo Girls:

    “years go by – will I still be waiting for somebody else to understand?”

    and anything the Indigo Girls wrote about getting over yourself and taking life by both hands.

    Later, when I was wondering whether I was actually succeeding in any of that…it was Ani Difranco, snips of Paula Cole —

    “she’s trying to sing just enough so that the air around her moves
    and make music like mercy that gives what it is and has nothing to prove”


    “half of learning how to play is learning what not to play,
    and she’s learning the spaces she leaves have their own things to say.”

    The bit in “Joyful Girl” when she asks herself if the things she does are just instead of the things she’d rather do more. And then the bit with the girl in the mirror:

    “she looks me in the eye. She says, if you prefer the easy way…no? well, OK.”

    And Paula Cole – “it’s me who’s too weak and it’s me who’s too shy to ask for the thing I love.”

    It was a lot about deciding that life was too short.

    And to whoever commented on “Nightswimming”? EXACTLY.

  74. @Sniper — you sent me looking for “Mimi on the Beach” on You Tube and there’s only a snippet there. But now I’m watching “the Walking” video with big goofy tears running down my face. I can’t believe that record came out 20 years ago already.

  75. I’m delurking for the first time…

    I’m only 18, but as many of the other women here have experienced, middle school SUCKED ASS. What I thinked helped me get through it was Pink’s album “Missundaztood” I definitly identified with some of the songs(“Don’t Let Me Get Me”, “Family Portrait”, My Vietnam” were the big ones) and helped me feel less alone in the world(I was the big, fat girl with the weird family who tried to hard to be cool).

    back to lurking…

  76. U2. I love them now, but back in ‘87-’88 when they were “Joshua Tree”-ing all over the place? Ugh. Couldn’t stand them.

    There’s no hating on the Joshua Tree, now. Red Hill Mining Town? LOVE.

  77. Haha, I had a similar kind of peer group, growing up. A couple of my friends were very into indie music, and quite knowledgeable about it, and the rest of us were just desperately trying to keep pace with them and not make the mistake of liking the ‘wrong’ things.

    As far as contemporary female musicians/vocalists went, I really loved Tori Amos, The Cranberries, and Björk — but when I was in high school I started listening to Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. I found an old tape of my dad’s, Glenn Miller, and then listened to some slightly later stuff like Frank Sinatra. Something about *older* music really, really got to me, and that is probably the stuff that I would point out as ‘changing’ me — even though my brother made fun of me for liking OLD FOGEY MUSIC. I still loved all the contemporary stuff, though, including TLC. I was never a huge fan of like 90s R&B, but TLC was always the exception for me — they always seemed smart, and I am a nerd.

    And, you know, hardly any of it makes me cringe now. I think I had pretty good taste in music. As a litle kid I loved Chuck Berry, the Beatles, the Doors — timeless, canonical stuff. Then again, I had a huge thing for Rick Astley too, when I was about 10, so… yeah. My recollection of good taste may be ever so slightly flawed :)

  78. I can’t believe that record came out 20 years ago already.

    Good grief. For some reason your post just triggered a memory of watching the video for the Motels “Only the Lonely” and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. That was 26 years ago.

    I think I need to find that album.

  79. Hall and Oates. And yes, since I am an alter cocker (or is that “alterna cocker”?) I’m talking about 1970s Hall and Oates. Eighties Hall and Oates were fine even though “Maneater” always annoyed me, but before I ever knew squat about jazz, or soul, or hard rock, or any kind of confessional songwriting they helped me find a way into all four, all at once, when I first listened to Bigger than Both of Us at age 13.

    And later on, when Daryl Hall said in an interview that he liked Television and Cheap Trick, I found both of those bands and from there I found punk and New Wave, in addtion to the soul and jazz and confessional songwriters I was already starting to mess around with (Laura Nyro would be my next obsession).

    Nobody else in my school was listening to that stuff, at least not that anyone would admit. Before Hall and Oates, I was strictly an “I like whatever’s in the top 40” kind of person. Once they snuck into the top 40, everything went nuts.

    Now, a lot of BTBOU sounds kind of cheeseball to me, but it still drives me insane that nobody ever puts “London, Luck & Love” on any of their best-ofs because I think it’s one of the best things they ever did, and I’ll bet that if someone requested it at one of their shows they wouldn’t even remember how to play it. Imagine having so much great material in your arsenal, going back over decades, that you forget some of your best tunes.

    Funny aside: At 13, I still couldn’t hear any kind of country music at all. Not even the really good stuff. A friend and I exchanged albums: She swapped me Gram Parsons’ Grievous Angel and I gave her BTBOU, and both of us handed our albums back to one another with disgusted looks on our faces and said, practically as a chorus, “How can you listen to that shit?” Later on I liked Parsons just fine (once I “got” Dolly Parton, “getting” Parsons was pretty much inevitable from a songwriter’s viewpoint), but at the time I couldn’t hear anything but three-chord whine. Turns out the simple stuff had more resonance for me after I spent lots of time soaking in the more musically sophisticated stuff.

  80. Holy crap, Meowser — I’m a bit of a H&O binge right now because I finally realized that — Holy shit those are great catchy songs! And then I did a tiny bit of research and realized Daryl WROTE ALL OF THOSE HITS (not “Family Man” though) — sorry for yelling, but WHAT an accomplishment and I’m embarrassed to say I never realized it. And then of course, his amazing singing abilities.

    I’m in the music biz and some friends of mine have been on the “Live From Daryl’s House” webcast. Have you checked that out? What a great use of the interwebs.

  81. I am extraordinarily music obsessed, so some of the music that did was:

    L7, Babes in Toyland, The Slits, Black Flag, Lydia Lunch, Exene Cervenka, 7 Year Bitch, DOA, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Bad Brains

    In later years (say the last decade up to now) Sepultura, Body Count, Public Enemy, Tupac, Otep, Rollins Band.

    All stuff that has had huge impacts on my life in one way or another.

  82. I saw one of Daryl Hall’s webcasts, from right around Christmas. It was pretty cool. I’m planning on checking out the archives of the rest when I have a minute. I got to see them live last year, which was a blast, like being 14 again without the crap. (I had seen them live a couple of times as a teenager, too.)

    I do like a lot of John Oates’ solo songs, like “Back Together Again” and “Melody for a Memory,” and their voices are so great in harmony. Oates also cowrote a lot of their hits with Hall singing lead, I’m pretty sure — as did Sara Allen (Daryl’s then-girlfriend) and her late sister, Janna.

  83. Where I grew up (I’m counting both West Virginia and Vermont here), the one kind of music that no one was allowed to admit to liking was country. I’m still shy of mentioning my fondness for anything that side of bluegrass if I don’t know the people I’m talking to, but I really like the cheesy Randy Travis and Trio songs my mom and I used to sing along with.

    I don’t think I was ever angry enough to like Ani or Liz Phair, but I’ve been a sucker for songs that even peripherally mention science since I started listening to music that was neither my parents’ nor popular among my peers. (It started with TMBG and Phish; most recently, I think, is Mirah and Spectratone International’s album from the perspective of small (mostly?) invertebrates.)

  84. Oates also cowrote a lot of their hits with Hall singing lead, I’m pretty sure — as did Sara Allen (Daryl’s then-girlfriend) and her late sister, Janna.

    I’m sure you’re right — I had just always ignorantly assumed that they were a couple of pretty boys with good voices and a repertoire chosen by an A&R department. Not that they were doing original material. There is that authorized Nick Toches bio that I want to check out — but it’s not in print and is a little pricey for me at the moment.

  85. The first two albums that set my world on fire? Seriously?
    Funny thing, but they weren’t by women at all.

    “Whatever and Ever, Amen” – Ben Folds Five
    Duncan Sheik – Self titled

    Even now I find something new and beautiful about Duncan Sheik and that album is over 10 years old.
    “But I won’t believe you now/ I gotta check this out/Nothin’ you can say will convince me otherwise…”

    As for “Whatever and Ever…”
    What social outcast hasn’t nursed the thoughts that Ben Folds articulates so pithily in “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces?”
    “Now I’m big and important/one angry dwarf and 200 solemn faces are you/look who’s tellin’ who what to do?/kiss my ass goodbye”

    For a South Side raised Chicago girl, those albums were pretty radical for me.

  86. For starters, one of the shitty things about getting older is that new music can almost never set me on fire the way it did in my teens and early twenties.

    Can’t remember where I read this, but I do remember reading that it might not just be acquired wisdom; there may be neurobiological reasons for the way your emotional reaction to new music changes as you age. Don’t know if that makes you feel better or worse :)

    I was definitely into the Liz/Ani/Tori thing (and am–I got the Chinese symbol for fire tattooed on my ankle inspired by the opening line of Liz’s “strange loop” and the fact that I was taking Japanese at the time), but of the three I mostly only thought/think of Ani as really feminist, and for all of them, most of my favorite of their songs are the ones about heartbreak. Tori in particular definitely has her feminist moments (the line from “God” that Kate quoted is good, as is “why do we crucify ourselves”), but, people, she has also written lines like “don’t make me scratch on you door/I never left you for a banjo” and “ballerinas that have fins that you’ll never find.” I always liked her for the piano.

    But I have also been super into Bob Dylan for a really long time now. So much so, I can’t even say anything about how much I love him.

    And, Kate, I TOTALLY feel you on the whole not wanting to admit you loved pop music thing. I went through a whole phase where I didn’t even like admitting I USED to listen to Britney & Christina, and then a friend of mine (the same friend, interestingly, who got me into Liz Phair) and I started liking Ashlee Simpson “ironically.” Then we realized that “La-La” is a damn catchy song and admitted to each other that we secretly liked it–ssh, don’t tell–earnestly. Four years later, we are both unabashed pop music lovers (and I, at least, have finally admitted that I freaking love YA fiction and hate Jane Austen. Yeah, I said it).

  87. I found Jagged Little Pill on sale right before it had actually become popular, bought it and loved it, then suddenly it was played everywhere so I rolled my eyes and gave it to my little sister. Yeah, I was definitely ashamed of the popular. :) (She was, of course, confused that I owned something popular, but happy to have it for herself).

    Anyway, I switched over to Sarah McLachlan, which both had the “right” kind of popular (among weird arty people) and was music I quite liked, and played Fumbling Towards Ecstasy waaaay too many times.

  88. calixti: HELL YES “Affirmation”! I think that song planted some seeds in my mind that didn’t germinate for years to come…

    Alanis Morrisette definitely rocked my world when I was in middle school, and the song “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks was one of my earliest “girl power” anthems. But the band that will forever represent my formative, rebellious, “This is who I am and you can get over it or shut the fuck up” years is Marilyn Manson. Not exactly feminist, no. But as manufactured and commercialized as Manson’s brand of rebellion was (and is), to me he represents everything I discovered as a teenager that the adults around me didn’t want me to know about, and in that way it’s related to feminism and all the other ideas that were looked down upon in my rural, conservative hometown. I knew pretty early on that Manson was a businessman and he knew how to pitch evil and rebellion in such a way that TV evangelists and concerned talk show hosts would do all his advertising for him. But I didn’t care, because I felt like I was sharing a laugh with him as he subverted pop culture and twisted the media around his little finger. It’s a bit embarrassing how much I can still identify with that angry, not-gonna-take-it-anymore teenager who used to blast “The Beautiful People” in her room, but I guess it wasn’t that long ago, in the greater scheme of things. Funny enough, before I read this post tonight I had spent about an hour watching old Manson and NIN videos on YouTube. (And, um, some Backstreet Boys too…maybe… Can you tell what time period I came of age in?)

    I feel like I’m experiencing feminism fail because I own a couple of Ani Difranco albums, but I’ve never been able to really get into her, or Tori, or Indigo Girls, or anyone like that. Never got into the Lilith Fair thing. I think that if I had been properly introduced to them earlier in my life, they might have spoken to me more, but as it is I’ve just never caught the fever for them. I DO love The Butchies (lesbian feminist rock FTW), but they’re unfortunately defunct. :(

  89. Oh, also:

    And of course, in the scheme of things, as white, middle-class people, we were far from outcasts or misfits — but we felt like that within our own communities and thus felt the need to actively reject everything a majority of our peers thought was cool.

    Kate, I think this applies to me and 99% of everyone else who’s ever loved Manson, as well. :-/

  90. Tangentially related, I love that new Kid Rock song about “Sweet Home Alabama,” but it kind of disappoints me too, because everytime it comes on I think that they are going to play Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.”

  91. As far as genre love went, I went goth-ish – Souxie, Sinead, the Smiths, Dead can Dance, Cocteau Twins, … and Kraftwerk, for some reason. But my friends and I were all over the map: I loved Peter Gabriel and the Police the Beatles and Marillion and Patsy Cline and Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday and Jesus Christ Superstar and Attila the Stockbroker and Billy Bragg… Oh, and KD Lang. And U2 and Rage against the machine and the Beasties.

    My best friend had a very much older brother that loved music, generally, and he’d pass stuff to her and we’d go nuts for it.

    And then, my Big City Friend introduced me to Latifah and Salt and Pepa and I thought my head was going to explode for how cool that was.

    Everyone would say “I like everything but rap and country”. That’s what was said.

    And suddenly I realized I liked rap ( this was before bitches and hos, and my mixtape was only female rappers ) and I’d just started to like KD Lang and Patsy Klien (my godmom’s new girlfriend was into country, and she was soooo cool….)

    I think that moment was an awakening to me. Music as “John Hughes Highschool Genre Theme Songs” was about drawing cultural lines.

  92. Count me as another 15-year-old who, a few years later, totally agreed with the casting in Dogma (that is, Alanis Morisette = God). Jagged Little Pill–the album–helped me deal with so much typical teenage angst, including falling down the stairs at school and getting dumped by my first real boyfriend on the same day. (If I ever write a YA novel, that’s so going in it.) I’ve been into musical theatre for most of my life (appreciation, not performance!), and I went through a significant Webber and Gilbert and Sullivan phase around high school too.

    As for musical coolness, pretty much anything besides bubblegum pop and country was acceptable amongst my classmates, so I had to hide my love of Britney away, of course. And I now am pretty sure that the strict moratorium on country was a response to living in Appalachia and trying not to conform to stereotypes of the region.

    And speaking of uncool things and songs that you appreciate more when you get older: when Katherine McPhee sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow on American Idol a couple of years ago, I actually paid attention to the lyrics for the first time as an adult. And bawled.

    Agreed on the song lyrics not being as moving anymore…I’m now much more likely to be affected by the overall musicality of new songs, not the words. The only artist that I’ve really felt lately is Swati, whom I think I’ve mentioned before, and even that doesn’t begin to compare to everyday teenage intensity.

  93. Can I get some love for Joan Jett please?

    Oh, I am so old. I’m gonna be 40 in three months.

    Actually, when I was a teenager in the ’80s, I was mainly into hard rock and heavy metal. Lots and lots of Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin and stuff like that. Yup. Plus I also searched the universe high and low for women metal artists, of which there were very few back then: Girlschool, Lita Ford, Rock Goddess, Lee Aaron. (Hey, that was considered heavy metal back then.) And I was also pretty far stuck into U2, Big Country, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Then when I was 18, a little homegrown Canadian band called Blue Rodeo emerged – alt-country, totally the opposite of, well, everything I seemed to like – and have been the One True Love of My Life ever since. Oh, except, I was totally a blues snob from 20 – 26. :D I didn’t really start to listen to anything “feminist” until after that, when I started working in the women’s movement.

    Was it life-changing? I dunno. It’s all music that still stands out for me. I do still listen to Iron Maiden once in awhile. That kind of stuff was life-altering to me, because I had a bad home situation, and the music was so loud and furious (yet good) that it filled all the empty spaces and expressed all the rage I couldn’t. I resurrected every one of their albums after I got deathly ill last year – the energy fueled my healing. But Blue Rodeo….they still give me peace and absolute joy. Whenever I’m down, even today, Blue Rodeo is the cure.

  94. Oooohhh!! *does an excited little dance at her desk*

    What a great thread!

    Penis Envy by Crass – the most inspirational, life altering, subversive, confrontational and quite frankly terrifying musical experience that my 13 year old, second generation punk self ever encountered. Just thinking about it now still makes me shudder and bristle with fear and anticipation. Not to mention the single “Reality Asylum” and the effect that had. Blimey!!

    My gang of white middle class alternative/Goth/Punk type chums were all chaps, while my female friends were more into the happier-sounding dance based music of the mid 80’s. I was an uneasy fit in each of these groups though, and most surprisingly it was within the Goth/Punk gang that I often felt isolated and unwelcome.

    Despite avidly listening to bands such as Crass, Conflict, New Model Army and the like, all of whom shared musical manifestos of equality, pacifism; concern for animal rights, etc., my ‘alternative’ gang was infuriatingly sexist. They were all convinced that women were silly, ornamental, twittering creatures with no real place in the important world of political debate and utopian ideology. They didn’t even believe that women were truly interested in the music, but instead were just hanging around like succubus groupies, hoping to ensnare all the men with their sexual wiles. I know there’s no need for me here to go in to any detail concerning the hostility/attraction dynamic, but suffice to say, I had absolutely nowhere to turn.. poor old me….. UNTIL…. crash, bang, wallop! I happened upon the recordings of the glorious Eve Libertine one rainy afternoon in the back of a small, dusty record shop.

    It was the one Crass album that none of said gang owned – oooh and I do feel sorry for them, they so missed out! Here she was, an intelligent, articulate and ferocious woman, expressing rage and disgust, and not caring a toss about being considered militant, aggressive, greedy, sexual, opinionated or any of the other things that my both my male and female contemporaries deemed unfeminine and undesirable.

    Sorry to sound so gushy, but I feel extremely grateful at having found this record, particularly at the time that I did. For me it was truly one of those early life changing experiences, and I’m still in awe of it today. In essence, it gave me permission to think, learn, and feel ok in my own skin in ways that hanging out with my mainstream ‘alternative’ group of mates couldn’t achieve in a million years.

    As soon as my nieces hit 13, I’m going to buy them a copy each :-D

  95. bellacoker –

    Yes I know exactly what you mean about that Sweet Home Alabama riff!!

    I keep expecting it to go into Werewolves of London too – and I’m so disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

  96. Dorianne, I saw the Runaways play in London when I was 17 – I hated ’em, but I went to see them anyway. (Though I do have a fondness for Joan Jett now). And la di da – I loved Icehouse too, especially the Love In Motion album).

    Music is as necessary to my well being as oxygen. I’ve always loved to dance, sang in a (crap) band at college and worked part time in the HMV shop on Oxford Street for most of the time I was there. But, for impressionable adolescent me, music was first and foremost the soundtrack to my fantasies. When I got older – and life got correspondingly shittier – it fulfilled that purpose even more. I could escape into emotions and experiences I hadn’t experienced yet. Music acted as a springboard for the fiction I wrote to escape the crappier aspects of my life – and music and writing still primarily fulfill that purpose for me. A song might inspire me in quite an oblique way – sometimes it’s the lyrics, other times it’s simply a mood.

    I grew up listening to and loving The Beatles, The Who and proper Jamaican Ska on the radio but hit my teens in the Glam Rock era – consequently I loved artists that were really theatrical like Bowie, Roxy Music and early Split Enz. At 14 I was in love with Alice Cooper while my best friend was sighing over Donnie Osmond. Many of the bands I liked as a teen were either deeply unhip at the time or else so hip no one else had ever heard of them. I used to die a million deaths when I had to ask for anything in the local record shop. And I totally get the thing about being liberated from the self-imposed restraints of cool. I’ve only recently permitted myself to like Duran Duran! It’s brilliant being a grown up and no longer caring what other people think of my music choices.

    Only one song has ever touched me politically and it’s really obscure – though la di da or one of our other Antipodean Shapelings might know it. It was written by Robyn Archer, an Australian artist better known for cabaret than rock these days, and appeared on a live album called Rough As Guts. It was called Size 10 – and it was about refusing to take shit about your size or believe you were ugly just because some fashion pundit told you so. It had a line in it about the wisdom of learning to see ones body through a lovers eyes, how lovers see you in all your flawed glory and let you be. This was in the very early 80s and, as you might imagine, rocked my world to it’s very foundations. In fact, given that I still had a year or two before I discovered FA, it probably planted the seeds of defiance and possibility.

  97. Alanis has been mentioned, but I’m not sure about this particular song – hopefully I’m not repeating anyone! I was never the sort of kid who was massively, obsessively into one band/singer over any others, but Alanis’s ‘Not the doctor’ was a fucking revelation to me:

    I don’t want to be the filler if the void is solely yours
    I don’t want to be your glass of single malt whiskey
    Hidden in the bottom drawer
    I don’t want to be a bandage if the wound is not mine

    and “I don’t want to be your other half, I believe that one and one make two” helped me realise what had made me so uncomfortable about all the ‘other half’ stuff I heard everyone spouting.

    (Obviously, this is all personal and I would now be much more open to a relationship where we BOTH offer to bandage wounds that aren’t ours, but at the time… wow)

  98. I love this post! I was totally part of the Chicago suburb middle class we’re too cool for you group. But the first music that really moved me was Bob Dylan. Pretty much anything Bob Dylan. This started a decade long aversion to anything current (oh, except the Indigo Girls. I love the Indigo Girls). A few years ago, when I was 25-ish, I realized that I was missing out on a whole world of great music. So now there is a ton of music that I love from all different genres. Unlike Kate, I still get really passionate about bands when I find something I like. I used to shun anything that was electronic in anyway. Now I love bands like Spiritualized and Postal Service.

    But my favorite female artist, this week anyway, is Brandi Carlisle. She does write music I can still identify with. “All of these lines across my face/tell you the story of who I am/so many stories of where I’ve been…” I like women who sing about wrinkles :)

  99. Wow, Kate, you’ve just articulated the thoughts I hadn’t yet spent time thinking.

    And I’ve semi-recently found an old mix tape that stars “What About Your Friends?” and man oh man, they knew stuff, those TLC women did!

    Thank you for taking the time to be so smart and to share it with the rest of us!

  100. @Ashley – OMG, Rent changed my life in high school. I was in with the theater crowd, loved musicals (have you seen Tommy?), and I saw Rent so many times, on Broadway and in Boston and once while it was travelling. I was from this small, VERY white town in Vermont, but somehow that show clicked with me. Mostly, for me, I’ve carried the message of living your life and not having regrets because you never know when it’ll all end. We sang a compilation of songs (highly edited) for my senior chorus pops concert, and it was so perfectly representative of the closeness of my friends through any odds. *sigh* Good times.

    @Kitty – I’m with you on “Bitch”. I was far from it in high school, but I have this distinct memory of that song coming on at my first semi-formal dance and all the girls loudly singing along. It was like at any moment there would be a revolution.

    And I have to join in on the Alanis love. During my first heartbreak at 16, “You Oughta Know” play over and over and over for me, even though we had this really innocent relationship where he definitely could not have been thinking about me when he fucked anyone else because we never fucked. But whatever.

    But you all reminded me of a song on that album that I feel like really awakened the feminist tendencies in me.

    “You took me for a joke
    You took me for a child
    You took a long hard look at my ass
    And then played golf for a while
    Your shake is like a fish
    You pat me on the head
    You took me out to wine dine 69 me
    But didn’t hear a damn word I said”

    Again, I was young and innocent, so it’s not like I’d experienced anything much like that, but I was also mature for my age and really didn’t take well to people treating me like a child or dismissing.

    As far as my tastes now, I’m mostly a country gal – that’ll happen when you live in Nashville for two years – and basically I love music that I can sing. And I love anything with really great lyrics, which is why I still love Jewel after all these years.

  101. for me it was joan jett’s – “bad reputation” when i was 13….yay!

    more recently….ani difranco’s “dilate” and “not a pretty girl” and spoken word artist alix olson’s “built like that” and “independence meal”…

  102. Rickie Lee Jones. God, no one else sounds like her. On Saturday Afternoons in 1963 blew me apart. Still does.

  103. hey dorianne: i got ya! i will ALWAYS love joan jett and lita ford.

    forgot to mention i had (and still have) mad love for debbie harry, patti smith, wendy o. williams, siouxsie, annabella lwin (of bow wow wow) and alison moyet….it always broke my heart that there were few women of color in the punk/goth/brit pop scene….

    hopefully that’s changing…..

  104. Jane: “I love Radiohead, but that explanation has to be one of the most pompous things I have ever read. Was he wearing a beret and smoking cloves when he said it?”


    For me, the big life-changing band was Nirvana. Everything was different forever after that “Heart Shaped Box” video I saw in the seventh grade. I was going through, or that change led to, the same big dramatic mean girls experience that a lot of us had. But, if not for that, I would not have the fancy life I have now. Nirvana led to everything else: The Melvins, The Jesus Lizard, Hole, Shonen Knife, Sonic Youth, old school punk like the Sex Pistols and the Germs, I had an industrial phase, a vintage surf rock phase, etc….I like a whole ton of bands. These days I like all that stuff plus newer indie rock (Jaguar Love and Ratatat are two favorites with new releases) Japanese anime theme songs, and I’m having a black metal phase right now. Ludicra is a really good female-fronted black metal band.

  105. Jagged Little Pill was my first love, but I loved it without really understanding what it meant (and also played it unironically alongside the Spice Girls. I was 12; give me a break).
    By the time I could understand it in my mid-twenties, though, Garbage set me on fire. I can’t remember the number of times that I growled along with Vow from Version 2.0. Plus, their upbeat song about a drag queen or a transwoman, I can’t really tell, is the world’s biggest earworm. (I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.)

    And now Shirley Manson is playing a hard-ass CEO on The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I can’t wait.

  106. I’m one of the, like, two people who is utterly and equally devoted to musicals and country music, and I could admit to neither of them as a teenager. Although, I don’t think teenage me knew she was into musicals because I only knew of the oldies (Oklahoma, South Pacific, etc) that didn’t speak to me rather than the newer ones (Hairspray, Spring Awakening, Ragtime, Rent, The Last Five Years, Wicked, Chicago, etc) that currently rock my world.

    It was Alanis for me too. I haven’t listened to Jagged Little Pill in years because hearing the guitar bits at the very start of it is like being transported back to teenage me in a way that’s still just freakily too real. I listened to it so often, for so long. I still do that poncy thing where other people say they liked that album and I think “you can’t possibly have gotten it as much as I did”. Oh, fake-cool teenage self, there are many ways in which I do not miss you. (And other ways in which you were awesome.)

    Other stuff that rocked teenage me or provided a soundtrack for the stuff I hadn’t experienced yet: Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, Aerosmith, Dixie Chicks (OH GOD I LOVE THEM), the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack (actually a really good album), the Buffy soundtrack, and Hole — who were actually a bit of a feminist awakening too, especially Live Through This, and v. v. unpopular at my school where all the boys still wanted to be Kurt. I also fucking loved Avril Lavaigne, but couldn’t admit it to myself or anyone else. Sk8r boi is a badly-spelled work of pop genius.

    These days my feministy self is all about Ani diFranco, although initially I was rolling my eyes at myself for being a queer cliche. And then I listened to “School Night” and was like, no, she’s just astounding. Shut up, self. Yay. I’m still stuck with my self-imposed disdain for most new music, though. If it hasn’t been around for at least five years I…don’t really care. Which I’m sure means I miss some great stuff, but I can live with that.

  107. Ugh, my friends all loved Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine. I NEVER understood it. My adoration for white boy suburban angst (REM, Nirvana, Pearl Jam) only goes so far.

  108. Oh man, if we’re going to start talking about musicals I will be here ALL DAY. Rent was a huge part of high school for me and my friends.

    Yesterday I found out that a new friend and I had been to the same Ani concert in high school and we geeked out for a good five minutes over that. D’awww.

    Latoya, I think the conclusion is that Tragic Kingdom was fucking awesome. XD

    And on a more recent note, the last artist that really set me on fire is Amanda Palmer, also in her work as half of the Dresden Dolls. Articulating my rage perfectly, and with an excellent aesthetic to back it up.

  109. Most everyone I would ever mention has shown up on this list except for one:


    Monkey Gone to Heaven, Gouge Away, Where is My Mind, Wave of Mutilation, and Gigantic, to name a few, are classic. Gotta love fat bald Frank Black, and Kim Deal is my fave bass player ever.

    These days I’m an enormous Patty Griffin fan, and would urge everyone to go out and discover the magic that is Patty. I discovered her when “Flaming Red” came out, which features a song called “Tony” about a fat gay teenager which I think hits a nerve with anyone who was fat and/or queer in high school.

  110. Hi! Delurking for this one. Count me in as one of the Tori lovers. My first boyfriend did a major mindscrew on me that mixed up sex, religion, and control in a weird way. So when Tori sang “So you can make me come, it doesn’t make you Jesus,” I was right there with her. The album “Little Earthquakes” spoke to my experience in a way nothing else had to date. Oddly, her later stuff has never done much for me.

    These days I’m pretty heavy into more folky stuff. My love of Dar Williams in her girl-with-guitar days knows no bounds. And I still find stuff that moves me to tears. As a San Francisco Bay Area girl, Vienna Tang’s “City Hall” about San Francisco allowing same sex marriages makes me weep with pride and love everytime I hear it. I also can play the Dixie Chicks “Home” album and “Not Ready to Make Nice” over and over and over.

  111. I am about 80% Rock Chick and have been since I was a kid. If I had only known in high school that there were guys who didn’t give a hang what I looked like, but dug me—or got interested in me in the first place– because I was way into Black Sabbath. Of course I found this out too late. And hey, “War Pigs” still gets cranked way, way up and howled along with when it comes on the car radio.

    I don’t think there has been any music that has been life-changing for me, but there is music that has affected me very deeply. It’s all about raw emotion for me. The summer after John Lennon died, I was 16 and heard _Plastic Ono Band_ for the first time and *nothing* had ever rocked me back on my heels like that album did. Music stripped all the way down to the bone + raw, naked honesty and emotion. Holy shit.

    The next thing to send me reeling was _Danzig II_, which I heard for the first time in 1989, when I was 24. Toss Black Sabbath, The Doors, a shovelful of heavy blues and a dash each of Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash in the blender and what emerges is what is for me an album of pure, howling bliss and heaven, music that reached so far down into me it was licking my tailbone from the inside. Maybe it did change me somehow, because I feel like I have never been the same since then, but I’m not sure I can articulate what changed. Except maybe somehow the howling intensity of this music had the power to sustain me through the long, bleak years that were most of my 20s and 30s. It vibrates on my frequency. _Danzig III_ and _IV_ even moreso, and those two are, even to this day, like deep, rich soul-fucking.

    At times of what felt like unbearable heartache, the two albums that could soothe me and make me feel like I could endure were _Danzig III_ and Sarah MacLaughlin’s _Fumbling Towards Ecstasy_. There’s an odd pair for you!

    Also on the “deeply affected by” list: Townes Van Zandt, Melissa Etheridge, Alice in Chains.

    And undying love for: The Doors, Black Sabbath, AC/DC (Bon years only), early Alice Cooper, Elton John, Sisters of Mercy, Mission UK, The Cure, CCR, The Cult (Yay-uh!).

  112. @ macnabb:

    i loves me some danzig too…… in fact “777” is my one of my fave “getting dressed (in black, of course) to go out drinking” song and “blood and tears” will have a special place in my heart forever…..

    glenn said that one of his influences was bill medley of the righteous brothers….i’d love to hear him do “unchained melody”




  113. @Isabel, add the banjo line to another tori song I thought I thought I knew the lyrics to, but secretly just made them make sense, for years I’ve been singing “Never left you for a badgering” which made some sense… like she didn’t leave him to get yelled… or something.

    Anyway, obviously mine was Tori, and I’ve calmed down on that a lot. For years my friend and I would follow her around the midwest on her tours like she was the dead or something. I still listen to her music a lot (although American Doll Posse is so. so. bad) but sometimes I find her a little too nuts and I end up getting called on to defend her a lot, and I’m like, “I can’t defend ‘Yo George’ or her strange chicken dance or the time she said that breast milk is like tequilla…”

  114. I’ve never been a big Ani or Tori fan. They both have their moments, and actually I like a lot of covers of their songs, but I have a hard time listening to them a) because I find Ani’s style to be a little bit annoying really b) there’s so much 90’s “look at me be a feminist” baggage that goes along with them. But I did get pretty obsessed with Tracy Chapman for a bit in high school and recently rediscovered her CD when my computer crashed and I lost all my music.

    And Patti Smith is still pretty damn awesome too. I saw her in concert last year. As is Bonnie Raitt, she even helps fund a camps so little girls can learn rock guitar. How sweet is that?

  115. sgabto, YES. When I was in middle school all the good little punk rock kids loved Nirvana (this was years after Kurt’s death, but we were nostalgic). I was reading one or the other of the many interviews in which Kurt pointed out that most of what they did consisted of ripping off the Pixies. “Hmm, who are the Pixies?” thought thirteen-year-old Linz. “Perhaps I should check them out.”

    So I went out and bought Surfer Rosa, and HOT. DAMN. I knew I had discovered something awesome almost immediately, but I think it was “Gigantic” where I really fell in love. My first car was named Kim.

    My other One True Musical Love–which, given that angry white girls are pretty thick on the ground in this thread, I kind of can’t believe hasn’t been mentioned yet–is Sleater-Kinney. All Hands On the Bad One came out when I was in eighth grade and I went crazy. Corin Tucker’s voice was like nothing I had ever heard before. They were singing about feminism, and they ROCKED. I was so in love. (I mean, I still am. This was only like eight years ago.)

    Also, I was of the generation of girls who were exactly the right age to deeply and unabashedly love the Spice Girls. Then, like everyone else I knew, I turned twelve, discovered punk rock, and spent the next few years fervently pretending I had never, ever, ever slammed it to the left or shaken it to the right.

    THEN, we hit college and started having dance parties, and it seemed to occur to everyone all at once: “Why the HELL did we stop listening to the Spice Girls?” They are so awesome! No dance party is complete without them! Zig-a-zig ah! Whatever the hell that means!

  116. Also, despite being a middle-class white feminist music geek, at no point in my life have I ever been even mildly interested in Ani, Tori, Alanis or Liz.

  117. For the most part, my desperate urge to find new music and to devour bands’ catalogs whole has abated a bit since teenagerdom. However, three years ago I discovered the Velvet Underground (where was I? how did I miss them before? Half of them are even from Long Island like me!). And they basically blew my brain up. I was starting viola lessons, so omg John Cale avant-garde violist!! After the first time I heard “Venus in Furs” I had to go outside and run around a while. Crazy-ass viola drones apparently do strange things to me.

    Also, following on what Linz wrote, Sleater-Kinney are gods.

  118. voluptuousrobot, it makes me so happy to see another Shapeling from Sarah Lawrence! I owe my FA Awakening to a misshelved copy of Fat!So? in the SLC library. I just had to say hi because it’s rare for me to run into anybody who has even HEARD of SLCm much less a fellow alumn!
    On topic, I’m a musician so music plays a huge role in my life, but in a much different way from those around me. It’s always hard for me to isolate my favorites, but Broadway showtunes certainly played a vital role in my adolescence. Mostly Les Miz, Rent, and Jekyll & Hyde.

  119. Jane!

    NIN Pretty Hate Machine was mine too! Not so much the later albums, but that one got me through my first year of university more or less sane. I basically played it on an endless loop. I can still sing all the words, and it has been a long time since school.

    Metallica (Master of Puppets and Ride the Lightening), Ratt, Judas Priest, Quiet Riot – nothing feminist but it all let me get the misfit rage out. I got feminist because my family was not – I suspect nothing angers smart, aggressive, ambitious girls more than watching their parents favour their little brothers.

    I was raised poor/working class oldest of 12 white girl on a farm in a very chauvinist family. Land rich, but money poor. I am now solidly middle class wealth wise, but like geekgirlsrule, seriously socialist as a result.

  120. I must have been a weird teenager (of course, I knew that already ;) ); there were a bunch of bands and artists that I liked a lot, but none that I felt changed my life or expressed what I was going through. I do remember novels that gave me that feeling, though, so maybe I just searched in a different direction for that connection.

  121. Not to be all snotty, but what’s with the assumption that if you’re white and feminist that you must have grown up with money, or at least “comfortably middle class?”

    Agreed. And it’s doubly hard if you’re white trash (or in my case, the British equivalent) but having your mother raise you to aspire to the particular type of middle class conformity that in her mind, goes with having money. That sort of middle-class wasn’t feminist at all, but harked back to an almost 1950s model of femininity and female success tied up with finding the right kind of man. Smart, socially geeky and an artist didn’t fit into that ideal, and it was very hard to abandon the idea that I was ‘supposed’ to try to be happy in that paradigm.

    I have to look back and say that really, truly, although I would have said I was in my early teens (and a big Beatles fan, although their music didn’t quite speak to me in that kind of a way) when I felt the first stirrings of awareness that girls got treated differently from boys and that it didn’t feel fair, it took many years after that – decades, in fact – for me to truly internalize it. For me to realize that not just were women in general as worthy as men, but that that applied to me personally as a woman; that what I personally thought and felt actually mattered.

    That was a long and fairly dark journey involving divorce, a period of depression and a whole heap of soul-searching. And musically, not strictly in the feminist sense perhaps but certainly in the sense of realizing where my feelings were coming from and starting to express them, Nirvana (very late in the day – it’s not just kids who are nostalgic, Linz!) were crucial. My musical tastes have branched out in a lot of different weird directions in the past few years, but that was the ‘This is me, take me as I am, and if you don’t like it, fuck you because I’m not changing myself to please you’ kind of turning point.

  122. Boy I’m really showing my age here, but I just loved “the only band that mattered.” That’s right, The Clash!!!!! Anyone else like them????

  123. The Song That Saved My Life: “Mexican Radio”, by Wall of Voodoo, back when Stan Ridgeway was still with them.

    I was in college in a place I hated, a weirdo among people who were heavily info conformity and were killing time before they got married, and generally just plain unhappy. What saved me was being able to get WLS on my radio — a station I couldn’t even get back home — and so I could hear early Prince (pre-Purple Rain, which was really the beginning of the end for him), and, one fine morning, this:

    “I feel a hot wind on my shoulder
    And the touch of a world that is older
    I turn the switch and check the number
    I leave it on when in bed I slumber
    I hear the rhythms of the music
    I buy the product and never use it
    I hear the talking of the DJ
    Can’t understand just what does he say?”

    It was weird, weird in the same way I was weird, weird and crazy and life-affirming.

    By the time the song was done, I knew — KNEW — I had to have the album once I got home so I could tape it for school. It kept me alive until the next school break. Sure enough, the entire LP (“Call of the West”) turned out to be a winner, not a clinker in the bunch.

    This incident was a rarity, because I almost never got into artists or genres when they were still fresh. Madonna left me cold and still does. Prince stopped being interesting nearly a quarter century ago. Didn’t discover Kurt Cobain until after he was dead, and then found out that their best riff — the bass line from “Come As You Are” — was ripped off from a Killing Joke tune. Though I gotta give props to someone signing about herbal abortion.

    The big irony is that I got what little exposure to artists of the last two decades — artists like Cobain and Natalie Merchant and Luscious Jackson and even the Dandy Warhols — because of the first, free iteration of Napster. I’d download a song by an artist whose name I’d heard of, then decide if I was going to buy their LPs. I bought the Luscious Jackson CD on the strength of “Naked Eye” and got into Nirvana via downloading “About a Girl” and their cover of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” It was a great way to try before I blew $20 on a CD. But when the boom fell on Napster, I stopped buying pop music entirely as I had no way to try before I bought.

  124. The summer after John Lennon died, I was 16 and heard _Plastic Ono Band_ for the first time and *nothing* had ever rocked me back on my heels like that album did. Music stripped all the way down to the bone + raw, naked honesty and emotion. Holy shit.

    Yup, yup, and yup. Though I heard it before he died, my brother being a Beatles/Lennon fan. I can hear “Well Well Well” in my head now, Primal Scream and all. I used to imagine updating the tune with Me’Shell Ndgelocello (sp?) handling the bass line, making it more sinuous.

  125. What’s Up Doc – I wouldn’t be worthy of the title of Londoner if I didn’t love the Clash! Heard the intro of Janie Jones and was never the same again!

  126. Oh man. I used to run around my high school trying to get people to listen to the Clash. People used to laugh at me for being such a giant music dork and then go back to their Aerosmith records. Now I hear them being played in coffeehouses by “kids” half my age or less. I swear they’re more popular with today’s kids than they were when they were putting out Give ‘Em Enough Rope and London Calling. (Same deal with the Ramones.)

    And Buffpuff, this is for you! (Recited from memory)
    He’s in love with rock and roll, whoooaaa
    He’s in love with getting stoned, whoooaa
    He’s in love with Janie Jones, whoooaaa
    He don’t like his boring job NO!

  127. The first cassette tape I bought “Pat Benatar – Tropico”
    Her voice was so powerful to me. I was probably 10 or 11 and I know I wore out the tape.

    “U2 – Joshua Tree” Only CD I was able to take on the bus on the way to my christian HS–my teachers thought it was a christian band…so it got me through the hell that was high school .

    “Smashing Pumpkins – Gish” Growing up ‘top 40’ this CD terrified and thrilled me to no end. No more NKoTB for this girl! This CD is still one of my favorites, as well as most of their other stuff too.

    “Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger” Drove around blasting that one in my 20’s. Love Chris Cornell’s voice.

    Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes and Sarah Mac -Fumbling…. I feel like they woke me up. I had been otherwise so repressed, as far as my sexuality. I didn’t quite know what to do with all the emotions that came out of those two albums for me.

    -and a quick nod of my head to Fiona Apple! I scared away one or two boyfriends by singing in the shower to that cd!!

    “Counting Crows – August and Everything After” Great CD to wallow to, and the closest thing to country I can stomach.

    “Les Miserables” Saw this at 18 or so at the Curran in SF. It changed my life. I just wept through the production.

    All of these I still like but for the nostalgia factor (except the pumpkins album is still one I highly reccomend). That soundgarden cd is almost *gasp* too loud now. But DAMN did I think I was rebelling at the time! I have often questioned why l don’t get emotional over songs like I used to. I still love a good crunchy lyric to get me thinking, but I have other outlets-and not as much drama.

    Cake is my favorite band now.

  128. yo buffpuff and what’s up doc: the clash! ahhhhhh…..yep, gots to have mad love 4 them as well….

    did either of y’all hear the series that joe strummer did on the bbc before he passed….he played some of the music from his collection……the series was wicked!

    i just thought about it…..buffpuff, you prolly did as you’re from across the pond…..

    hey meowser….it’s kinda nice to see that joe and the boys are being listened to by “kids” these days, innit?

    love me some ramones too….. *sigh* and, don’t get me started on patti smith!

  129. I was born in 1976 so I missed all the hedonistic sparkly disco craze, but I grew up listening to Donna Summer (I still have my mom’s Live and More double album with the 17 minute MacArthur Park Suite on it), the Bee-Gees, Gloria Gaynor, etc and the classic rock of the late 60s and 70s, the music of my mom’s generation.

    But in 1981, MTV was born and this was my real introduction to music, especially music from other countries and /or music that would never get played on mainstream American radio. I was exposed to punk, New Wave, funk, club, dance, and 80s’ alternative (I remember being facsinated with the B-52’s “Legal Tender” video because of the hair and I still love their music).

    But no one song or singer or group changed me, although listening to John Mellencamp’s songs about the struggles of the blue-collar and farm families during the decade of excess did open my eyes to what the media at the time glossed over. “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Dallas, and Dynasty” were hot, and it was all about the American Dream and even if you had it all, it was never enough. But music was an escape, something to dance to and have fun with.

    Today, I listen to mostly oldies. The only current music I like is dance/club/trance, the stuff that only gets played on Internet radio and features groups and singers mainstream has never heard of. But sometimes, a band will really strike me and I have to seek out their songs, like Muse and Placebo. I don’t know what it is about some of these British bands, but quite a few put out some damn good stuff and the lead singers really pull you into their minds (except for Coldplay, their music bores me to no end).

    Also, Weird Al Yankovic is THE MAN. ‘Nuff said.

  130. Clash Love!!! Yeah!!!!!!! Buffpuff, I so wanted to live in London around ’79/80! As it stands, I may be visiting next summer. Finally, after 30 years. I’ll try to dig out my old “I fought the law with the Clash” sheriff’s pin!!!!! I love it that kids today are getting into them. Just proves how good they were. And Diosa, I never did hear that set on the BBC, it must have been awesome…..

  131. I don’t think music has ever changed my life. Also, I’ve never cared whether I was liking the right thing or not, so my taste is random and not very coherent. I’m looking at CDs, and trying to remember what I liked as a teenager. Um…Andrew Lloyd-Webber musicals, U2, Tom Lehre, Simon and Garfunkel, Suzanne Vega, Police, Billy Joel, Erasure, A-Ha!, Wham, Eurythmics, Baccara. The Val Doonican songs I used to listen to with my granny.

    I think my favourite teen song, the one I used to play over and over until people begged me to stop, was probably ‘With or Without You’. And right now, my love for the Backstreet Boys is a great and glorious thing. My entire lack of shame, let me show it you. :-)

  132. I’m still young, but my music taste has always been based on what I think sounds cool. I admit I don’t concern myself too much with the lyrics (unless they’re exceptionally offensive or exceptionally awesome or some such thing) and for some reason I’ve never felt pressure to like certain music really. Sometimes I felt ashamed of certain artists, but it wasn’t a serious thing. I started to hate popular music in my teens, but it was mostly because it stopped “sounding cool” and definitely had nothing to do with anyone else.

    Nothing has changed my life so much but when I realized what an amazing tool the Internet is for finding new music (or old music I’d never hear otherwise) when I was about 15, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, and the amount of time I spent listening to music changed dramatically. It first started with trance music, then other kinds of electronic, then I discovered that hey this “screamo” stuff isn’t that bad, and I’ve just found all kinds of neat stuff since then and pushed my boundaries of music I can deal with/like. Mostly rock and electronic. I’ve become one of those “music is my life” types. Well, sort of. If I have nothing to do, I spend that time typically scoping out new artists or listening to a favorite CD. Whether I like it or not depends mostly on the rhythm and such.

    Sometimes it’s neat to hear a song I can relate to (one minor example is Natasha Bedingfield’s “Single”), but mostly I just want something that sounds nice to my ears. Even if it sounds awful to other people’s ears. :P

    I always wonder what my taste will be like as I get older. Will I still like this stuff? Will I have a sudden dramatic change? But meh. Whatever happens, happens. :P

    And I never really got into Tori or Ani or any of them because it’s just not my style.

  133. music that changed my life:

    ani. sappy but true. helped my young teen self realise it was ok to be a weird butchy hairy queermo. the first conversation i had with my first boyfriend was about her, so yay that. even though now i’m femme and pansexual and don’t feel i need her music quite as much, but it got me where i am today.

    the smiths. same as ani really, except to my older more bitter adolescent self. provided my senior yearbook quote.

    submission hold. oy, i don’t know where to begin! the song ‘rubbing salt into the would’ pretty adequately describes the relationship between me and the kid who introduced me to them, a preachy punk rock guy who called himself a feminist and ended up molesting me. but yeah, so beautiful.

    fifteen. kind of self-explanatory. i have the ‘survivor’ heart tattooed on my wrist.

    world/inferno friendship society. they found me really. start of a new happy chapter in my life.

    spearhead. hip hop that was ‘socially conscious’ (not like i knew what that meant at the time) and wasn’t toooo sexual or misogynistic. a cute hippie counselor named moses played them during a general hangout session at the summer camp i went to where i liked the adults (hippie types) lots more than the campers (rich suburbanites who kvetched about the hippie-ness yet came back every year), and it clicked.

    ghost mice. what can i say, i’m still a chris clavin fangirl. soundtrack to my ‘college years.’

    evan greer. played what i needed to hear at the time. we’re friends now, which is really funny all things considering. i’m a bit burnt out on his music/performing persona, but he’s a good kid.

    johnny hobo and the freight trains. not sure why i liked them so much, cos all their songs are about drugs. i’m friends with pat the bunny now too. but yeah, brilliant. though his newer stuff, wingnut dishwasher’s union, speaks to me a lot more now; pat and i have both grown older and happier, thank goodness.

    minor threat. i’m not sXe anymore, but that was a big part of my identity for a while, and finding out that there was a subculture of kid who were punk as fuck and still fucked shit up without getting fucked up calmed my aching 13 year old heart. helped me feel all badass, like middle schoolers need so much. i’m getting a tattoo of their sheep graphic on rosh hashana.

    i’m sure there’s more, but those are the big ones

  134. So glad somebody mentioned Meredith Brooks, because my musical feminist journey is loosely organized around what I call the “bitch” principle – that is, anything and everything all at once so the list goes:

    Bonnie Rait
    Dolly Parton (yeah, 9 to 5, plus, the woman is a marketing genius)
    Patsy Klein
    Salt N Pepa

    Erykah Badu
    “I don’t walk around trying to be what I’m not/
    I don’t waste my time trying to get what you got/
    I’m pleasing me/
    ‘Cause I can’t please you/
    and that’s why I do what I do/
    My soul flies free like a willow tree”

    India Arie (Brown Skin)
    Tracy Chapman
    and yeah, Gwen Stefani’s Just a Girl really hit me

    If nothing else, those women/that music made me recognize passion and general badassery, which I’ve always found lacking in ‘traditional’ feminist fare. Maybe that’s an unfair assesment, but the coffeehouse/flannel shirt/unwashed hair/fairy poetry brand of Ani/Tori/Alanis with it’s implications of etheral madness always seemed so corollary to the equally unkempt men whose aweful behavior was all to often the loci of indignation. Not that the men in question didn’t merit public denuciation, but I like my feminist music all about the capacity of the (female) artist. A/T/A, if I can label them that way, come across as so fragile that all the wholesome earthy goodness to be gotten out to of their ideas are lost in ‘poety’ metaphors.

    Wow, somehow that went on a lot longer than I thought it would

  135. I thought it was interesting that you said that you wouldn’t get the same things out of Guyville if you had first discovered it in your 30’s. I first heard it in the mid-90’s when I was 30 and have started to relisten to it at 44. It’s really quite a timeless album and the songs ring true for me todAY.

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