Last year, my neighbor and I traded assignments to make each other a compilation CD. Dan is some 20 years younger, so we each had vastly different backgrounds and assignments to offer the other. Upon completion of my playlist, I was horrified to realize that I didn’t have any women on my playlist. That wasn’t fair.
I have good representation in my collection and I have sought out women to listen to my whole life, but it was just sort of a bad coincidence. To mend my karma, here’s a playlist featuring women. I’ve got it all: rockers, punks, electronica mavens, soul vocalists, poets, and heroin-shooting Euro girls, all spanning about 6 decades.
The timing is appropriate. I wasn’t ready for the woman’s march last month, but the movement must not have an end; any contribution at any time is appropriate. I’ll look to do this again in a few months. (Sorry for the YouTube commercial breaks – disturbs the flow, doesn’t it? It’s not me.)
- Heart – “Crazy on You”
I was 11 years old when I first listened to Heart on my little AM radio, and my older brother had Dreamboat Annie. We listened to these girls over and over.
- Patti Smith — “Because the Night”
Let me go out on a limb: Patti Smith is one of the great artists of the 20th century. She does not compare in fame or stature to Andy Warhol or David Bowie, but she’s got the stuff. She can write, she’s tough, she leads a great band. She’s led people to new places, she’s a healer and a teacher: a shaman. Ever see her perform? Listen to her records, read her books, look over her photographs and drawings. Girl’s got game. I’m on a pretty short limb.
- Laurie Anderson – “Beautiful Red Dress”
“…I just want to say something … for every dollar that a man makes, a woman makes 63 cents. Now fifty years ago that was 62 cents. So, with that luck, it’ll be the year 3888 before we make a buck…”
That was in 1989. By 2015, women were making 80 cents to the male dollar, depending on what statistics you believe. Pay disparity is real, but beyond that, there is no simple truth. The statistical methods and the misguided “myth busters” get thick pretty quickly, but start at US Department of Labor blog Myth Busting the Pay Gap (But hurry! DJT is sure to censor this post and all other posts by DoL staff.)
- The Pretenders – “Precious”
“You shouldn’t let your manners slip you’re too precious”
- Talking Heads (Tina Weymouth) – “Heaven”
I remember reading an interview with David Byrne; he was really proud to have a woman journeyman bass player, Tina Weymouth, in the band. Other bands at the time had women fronting, like Blondie, but Tina wasn’t a sex symbol, just somebody that could play. We’re all better off when we all play together, thus it’s appropriate to include Talking Heads here.
- Lady Gaga / Tony Bennett – “The Lady is a Tramp”
I love this.
- Amy Winehouse – “You Know I’m No Good”
I wish we knew how to help suicidal drug addicts. Rehab doesn’t do it, telling them, “don’t do that” doesn’t help. Jail doesn’t help. I generally think, you know, they just weren’t meant to be long in this world, but that’s insufficient. Amy had many unique talents, and I fear she had a lot left to offer us.
- Honey – “No One Wants an Alien”
This shows up on a Wipers tribute album. I like Honey’s voice and wish I could listen to more of her. I don’t really know who this is, and you can’t go searching the internet for “honey” girls.
- Bow Wow Wow – “I Want Candy”
Not sure a 14-year-old girl singing about cum stuck to her sweater is at the heart of the women’s movement, but it’s a cool song that was at the heart of the UK punk scene. This song will resurface later when I do playlists to celebrate “great drumming bits” and “I heart guitar riffs’.
- X – “Your Phone’s Off the Hook, But You’re Not”
The harmonizing vocals of Exene Cervenka and John Doe has a quality that only comes from a boy-girl duet, and damn, they do it well. And Exene is one great punk poet.
- The Slits – “So Tough”
If this playlist does nothing else for me, my goodness, I’d forgotten how interesting The Slits are to listen to. With great touch, they put a song together that’s strong, gentle, tasty, yet nasty.
- Slant 6 – “Baby Doll”
I lived in Burbank one summer in the late 1990s and a girl-punk band come on the radio, but I missed who it was. Quickly, I ducked into a record shop in Hollywood that I frequented, but they hadn’t been listening to the same channel. They asked, with a blank expression, “well, who was it?” I’ll never know who I was actually listening to, but they sent me home with a Slant 6 CD. They’re awesome.
- The Kills – “Hard Habit to Break”
I’m rediscovering this band, but I can’t remember how I knew them before. Recently, I’d decided that I wanted a T-shirt with a volcano and it, and searching, I found the T-shirt for their Fire and Ice album. hmmm…The Kills…I haven’t listened to them for a while. Cool stuff. The store on their website doesn’t work.
- Siouxsie and the Banshees – “Hong Kong Garden”
Siouxsie Sue was my gateway drug. There I was innocently sitting in my dorm room listening to Journey when this crazy man walked in my room screaming “Journey??” and walked out. He returned holding Once Upon a Time – The Singles. I have never listened to Journey again, and have, for over 30 years, turned my attention to the innovative, the cool, the unusual. Gone is the Top 40.
- Ladytron – “Destroy Everything You Touch”
BBC Radio’s 6 Music hosted an all-synthesizer show the day after the women’s march, and this was the most-requested song.
- Nina Simone – “Do I Move You”
Next month I’ll review the record-of-the-month club that sent this to me in December. I could not stop playing it, one side after the other. Flat out, Nina can sing.
- Alabama Shakes – “Hold On”
Girl’s got soul in her rock ‘n’ roll.
- Nico – “The End”
Must I learn to stop ending playlists with a pun? I don’t know. Nico did some pretty interesting things, writing some of her own songs, and playing the harmonium. The thing, though, was her voice. Strong, atonal, and kinda freaky. She makes ‘The End’ her own, which is the best kind of cover.
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